It is Brelby tradition to dedicate the month of November to giving a platform for our artists to share their stories. This month our annual Blogathon theme returns to its roots with a visit back to the topic of “My Brelby Story.” We’ve grown a great deal over the past few years, and many of our original bloggers have moved on to new careers, new lives, new challenges, and new cities. Enjoy this year’s series with 30 Days of Blogs.
I don’t do musicals. That has been my mantra—akin in seriousness and lasting literary impact as Shakespeare’s “To thine own self be true” and Outkast’s “I’m sorry, Ms. Jackson, I am for real”—since high school, when I performed in my self-proclaimed “last musical ever.”
I was able to stick to that vow all through my university acting days and for years after, enjoying performing in a variety of straight plays and short films whenever time—and two adorable little boys—permitted. Musicals, I thought with a jovial chuckle, they’re just so singy.
Which did seem to be the case. The first production I saw at Brelby was Big Fish and…alright, I’ll give it to them. I cried. It was real good. I decided to keep slipping in and seeing shows every now and again.
Until this past summer when the stars seemed to align: my amazing friend Helen Morris was music directing a show I’d never heard of, Jasper in Deadland, and she gently encouraged me to audition. Everything else in my life was going through a totally uncomfortable transition, and so I thought, you know, why don’t we just stick to the theme? I auditioned and, to my delight/horror, I was cast as the antithesis to everything I strive to be: pure evil.
Literally. I was cast as Lucifer.
This was not just your every-day devil, mind you, but a red-necked, rappin’ version named Little Lu. She talked to herself, laughed with delirious and disturbing glee while shoving her 7’ long pitchfork in people’s faces shortly after lovingly stroking their cheeks, and broke out into a cocky line dance at every opportunity.
I mean, I didn’t say she was unlike me in every way.
It was extremely cathartic. The part, pushing my comfort zone, and, actually, the whole process of watching a show come together at Brelby. It’s a place of artistic freedom, where ideas are encouraged, impulses are honored, and the general theme seems to be, let’s go for it. It was a place where, despite semi-debilitating amounts of stress in my life at the time, I could go and take deep breaths, jump around and dance, giggle, and follow whatever artistic inclinations I had. (And that was usually just during the 5-minute warm up.)
I even managed to do that Big, Scary Thing: sing on stage.
Honestly, it’s been a total pleasure to see how Brelby works. It’s a community, a family, and one were mistakes aren’t forbidden. I love the transparent way Brian and Shelby run Brelby, and the honest investment everyone in the company has in one another and the success of the shows. It’s a safe, gentle place where only kind words are encouraged. I couldn’t be happier to have found it and, even though I’m taking a break from big shows right now, I still keep finding myself in the space, laughing and (dang it, yes!) crying my way through shows.
I think it’s a habit I’m going to keep.