By Megan O’Connor
Brelby Theatre Company is all about positivity and building up our artists and we are especially dedicated to promoting our female artists and as such we have Brelby Artists nominate one new woman every month for us to treat like royalty. The power of women as actors, designers, writers, directors, creators, and people in general cannot be overstated and we decided for this season we would have our Queens interview each other and we at the Brelby Buzz are so excited to have April’s Queen, Carolyn Platt McBurney, interview our Queen for the month of May, Kay Gray. Kay is a collaborative artist at Brelby, first seen on our stage in last years production of Little Women: The Musical, and she has since remained as a costume and hair and makeup designer for The Tempest and Sea Fairies. She returns to the Brelby stage in the upcoming studio series show After Hours at Rosie’s Pub as the misunderstood but meritorious, Mary Magdalene. She sat down with her director and our reigning Queen, Carolyn, to talk about the benefits of art in education, hair and makeup design, and a little bit of insight into the character of Mary Magdalene. Read on and be inspired by our two reigning Queens!
Carolyn McBurney: Congratulations! You are Brelby’s Queen for a Day, and I can’t think of a better successor! Let’s find out a little bit more about your marvelous-ness. You’ve worn a different “crown” as a theatre teacher. What is the most important thing you think a theatre education provides young people?
Kay Gray: I believe that primarily, theatre education builds confidence and creativity by providing an outlet for students to use a different part of their brain and have some “play time”. With theatre education there is another plus, though, than just the fun and games. Within the structure of a theatre classroom and production preparation, there is reinforcement of the skills and knowledge that they learn in the core classes, math, english, science, and social studies.
CM: That’s so important for people to realize about theatre in school curriculums. In addition to teaching, you are also a hair and makeup diva. What is your favorite H&M design you have done?
KG: I designed a production of HMS Pinafore at GCU’s Ethington Theatre. It was done in the traditional Gilbert and Sullivan era style and was very colorful; the hair was bigger than life and the makeup was colorful and the cast was lovely and they all looked so good! I did that! It’s a good feeling. Consequently, I also won a Zoni for that, which is very validating:)
CM: And well deserved! And now here you are– Queen of Brelby. Have you ever been Queen of anything else?
KG: My friends call me the Queen of the Universe…some tongue in cheek, because I have a tendency to be a bit of a diva 🙂 Others, giving me a place of honor in their lives, honorary aunt or grandmother to their kids, and advisor and mentor to them. I accept this nickname in honor of these precious friends in my life.
CM: What brought you to the kingdom of Brelby?
KG: After I stopped teaching, I took a bit of a break from theatre because I had both knees replaced. When I finally was ready to go back and rejoin the theatre world, I had several former students who were always talking about Brelby and I had seen several productions. I loved the atmosphere, and vibe. When I heard that auditions were being held for Little Women: The Musical, I just had to audition! I love the music and was very excited to be cast. I was hooked on Brelby 🙂
CM: And we’re so glad! You are performing the part of Mary Magdalene in the upcoming production of After Hours at Rosie’s Pub. Why do you think it’s important that we hear Mary’s story? Do you think there will be anything about this role that surprises audiences?
KG: I feel that Mary is misunderstood in most people’s eyes. She was a very strong woman, had to be to just survive in the time that she did. Add to that the fact that she lived traveling from place to place helping to spread the gospel of Jesus (not a popular idea at the time) never knowing if they were going to be accepted, run out of town, beaten or even killed.
I think that the most surprising thing for the audience will be that Mary is funny and sometimes irreverent, like any other person. Her jokester personality and stand-up delivery of her story brings a realism to her that people might not see as a possibility until they see the show. I think with many historical figures, we memorialize them, but don’t give them a chance to… be. I love that Mary has a sense of humor, because, I feel that laughter is, indeed, the best medicine.
CM: I’m very excited for people to see the work you’ve been doing in this show. If you were Queen of the whole world, what edit would you make?
KG: I would have the leaders from all countries sit down together and talk about the differences that they have. Perhaps with a bit of acceptance and some love, peace might prevail. That may sound a bit naive, but hope springs eternal 🙂
CM: You’re the Queen, you make the rules! Kay, thanks for being such an inspiration to us all! I love working with you and can’t wait for audiences to see you again on the Brelby stage!