November 2019 Blogathon: James Beneze

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.

Roughly 5 years ago, while I was a GCC Theatre student, one of my best friends, Alexxis Briviesca, became involved with a local community theatre. She was always talking about how she had found a theatre home, and how welcoming and loving the people were. She encouraged me to come get involved. But I was scared, and not ready to branch out yet. The first show I saw at Brelby was Fangirl, and I loved it. Over the next year or so I saw a few shows at Brelby, and always felt this draw to get involved but I kept pulling away in fear. 

And then Alexxis got accepted to a theatre program in Manhattan and I was inspired to finally start trying to break out of my box. I distinctly remember when Brelby held a fundraising event for Alexxis. At the end of the event she dragged me over to Shelby Maticic and reintroduced us. We had a brief chat about my interest in getting involved and then I left. About a week later I got a Facebook message from Shelby asking if I was interested in stepping into the costume, hair, and makeup design spot for Cold War Kids. I immediately accepted and got caught dancing in excitement at work by a co-worker. So that happened…

With my involvement already cemented in I decided to take the leap and audition for Quest for Claus: the Musical. I was terrified going into that room because I hadn’t sung in front of people in a long time and there I was: auditioning for my first musical in front of Shelby, CJ, and Fernando. And all I wanted was to make a good impression. Apparently I did since I was invited back for callbacks.

At the first meeting for Cold War Kids, I was immediately welcomed with open arms and felt so accepted and at home with these people that I had just barely met that I just knew I wanted to be as involved as I could be with this theatre. Cold War Kids was an amazing experience of getting to collaborate with experienced artists and getting to stretch my creative muscles. And as soon as we opened I went straight into rehearsals for Quest for Claus. What a whirlwind that was. I made so many new friends and began to feel like a part of something bigger. At the opening night Gala there were so many people excited to see me after the show that it was overwhelming. I had never felt so appreciated as an artist before, until the end of year banquet.

At the banquet, awards were given out to all of the artists that had been involved with the season. I received the “Puzzle Piece Award,” with a description of “A piece we never knew we were missing, but couldn’t be complete without.” (Or something like that) That was when I knew I had found a home. Since then I have worked in practically every aspect of design, performance, and crew and become a member of the core Company. Brelby is, and always will be, my home and the first place I’ve ever truly felt appreciated as an artist.

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