Emmy Award-winning choreographer Suzy Miller has a confession.
Before she ever slipped on a leotard and toe shoes, she was a guitar-slinging singer in the Joni Mitchell mode.
“Back in the hippie days, I was a girl with a guitar,” said Miller, best known as the choreographer behind many of the San Luis Obispo Little Theatre’s most successful shows, including the “Legends” series and “Shimmy Shake Shine!” “Nobody really knows that.”
Her hidden talents are on display in “Miller and Miller by Miller,” produced by Mary Meserve-Miller and co-starring her husband, “Legends” veteran Mike Miller. The eclectic musical showcase, which also features guest singers Karen Kahn Pearson and Cody Pettit, runs Friday through May 6 at The Spot in Arroyo Grande.
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“This show incorporates everything: comedy, beautiful ballads, breathtaking four-part harmonies,” Suzy Miller said. “It’s fun. It’s beautiful. It’s raucous. It’s crazy.”
According to the choreographer, a passion for dancing — coupled with stints as an aerobics instructor and backup dancer — effectively ended her singing career.
While shooting a music video for the Swedish heavy metal band Krokus, Miller and her fellow backup dancers spent eight miserable hours barefoot on a chilly cliff overlooking San Francisco Bay. She came down with a cold and lost her voice for a week.
The choreographer didn’t return to her musical roots until five years ago, during Mike and Mary Merserve-Miller’s weekend-long wedding celebration at Yosemite National Park.
“On the last night, Suzy whips out a guitar. We all started singing around this little campfire,” Meserve-Miller recalled. “I said, ‘You need to do something about this. We need to do a show.’ ”
“Miller and Miller by Miller” finds Suzy Miller playing both guitar and banjo, backed by Mike Miller on guitar and harmonica. They share the singing duties with Pettit, best known as the star of Kelrik Productions’ “Avenue Q” and Sorcerer Productions’ “Forever Plaid,” and Pearson, whose local theater credits include San Luis Obispo Little Theatre’s “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change.”
In addition, each concert will include a performance by a Nipomo High School student. Proceeds benefit the school’s drama program.
The show features fresh takes on familiar songs by artists including The Beatles, Cat Stevens, James Taylor, Neil Young, and Crosby Stills and Nash.
Mike Miller teams up with Pettit on two Simon and Garfunkel songs, “The Boxer” and “Homeward Bound,” while Pearson goes solo with Carole King’s “Natural Woman” and Barbra Streisand’s “Don’t Rain on My Parade.”
Suzy Miller, meanwhile, pays tribute to her late mother with a soulful version of Linda Ronstadt’s “Long Long Time.”
“I’m going to have to pass the Kleenexes out for that one,” Meserve-Miller said.
Songs are interspersed with a series of playful videos inspired by Suzy Miller’s life.
“Inappropriate Boyfriends,” which pokes fun at her questionable dating history, is set to an instrumental version of Nat King Cole’s “L.O.V.E.” “There’s the Chippendale dancer, the bass player from a onehit wonder the male stripper working his way through college for an accounting degree,” she explained with a laugh.
“The show really ranges from poignant to hilarious,” she said.
Both women said The Spot, an intimate space that seats only 50 people, is the perfect venue for a small-scale show like “Miller and Miller by Miller.”
“There’s a very comfortable relationship with the audience,” said Miller, who collaborated with CORE Dance Company co-founder Zheila Pouraghabagher to stage “Confessions of a Love Junkie” at The Spot last August.
“We look at it as a night around the campfire with your friends — only your friends are really entertaining.”
Meserve-Miller agreed that audience members are in for a rare treat.
“This shows a completely different side of her,” she said of Suzy Miller. “I think people will be surprised.”
Reach Sarah Linn at 781-7907.