It’s become a tradition at Brelby to spend the month of November reflecting on our artform and how it impacts us through our annual Blogathon. This year, in honor of our 10th Season, our Blogathon participants will be sharing lists of 10 things that have impacted them, whether they be lessons or memories…or are looking ahead towards future goals.
Today’s blogger, Melody Chrispen, has become a fixture at Brelby over the past several years. If you’ve seen a show at Brelby, chances are that you’ve seen her onstage, witnessed her call cues from the SM booth, or maybe you’ve chatted with her when arriving at our box office.
Enjoy her look back over her time with Brelby, as she highlights 10 Brelby memories that have impacted her.
Hello, dedicated Brelbians! I don’t know about you, but the blogathon is one of my absolute favorite Brelby traditions. It reminds me that the holidays are here and also how many amazing artists we’ve picked up over the years! Personally, I could talk about the impact Brelby and all the artists here have had on my life for days, but we don’t have time for that. So this year…I have chosen a few memories that have helped mold me into the strong, well-rounded, feminist art-maker that I am today!
The first memory I have chosen to share takes us all the way back to 2012, long before many of you even knew the name Brelby, I’m sure. A friend of mine was in a production of Twelfth Night. Being my favorite Shakespeare show, I had to see it. It was being performed on the patio of the OTG bar and inn. Scrappy, creative, impactful. I had never seen such a personal and REAL production like that. It reignited my passion for theatre at a time when I felt unloved and unwanted. But that was just the beginning of my journey.
My next memory jumps forward to June of 2013. My first production with Brelby: Godspell. Keep in mind that I came from a university that refused to let me take voice lessons because I was a theatre major not a music major. Sure didn’t stop me from joining this incredible PROFESSIONAL production and making some lifelong friendships, which unfortunately is more than I can say from my 4 years of college. Closing night was magical. We sang, laughed, danced, and cried our hearts out. I had found my spark for performing again.
Throughout 2013 I continued to get involved and support Brelby in any way I could. Brian and Shelby saw this, and in December of that year, they invited me to join the company; a true moment of clarity in my life. I had spent almost 8 years in educational theatrical settings working my butt off for an ounce of recognition. Here, within 6 months, I was given a promotion for lack of a better word haha. Despite how loyal I already was to this company, I did not feel deserving of this honor. But nevertheless, I would work hard to feel worthy of it, because I had found my home.
A few short months later, I was given the honor of performing my first ever lead in Be A Good Little Widow. Although I can look back now as a seasoned performer and see my flaws, words cannot express how empowered I felt during that show. On a personal level, I was overwhelmed to be given a role that I would have never received anywhere else. Girls like me…don’t get the romantic lead. But that’s the beautiful thing about Brelby. They’re changing that dialogue. Stereotypes don’t exist here. All are welcome.
This led me on my journey of becoming a well—rounded artist. I was given opportunities to design, to stage manage, and to direct. Christmas of 2016, Brian and Shelby trusted me with one of their babies: Non-Fat Soy Peppermint Mocha Latte…With Sprinkles: A Tale of Christmas Spirit. Such a fun show! I had been in love with this show for a couple years after having read it. On top of being a Christmas-holic, I am a sucker for romance. Directing this beautiful show with such a beautiful group of people is a memory that has had a lasting impact on me. It reminded me that the magic of Christmas, for me, lives in art. It is not a time of year, but rather a state of heart. Awww look at that….I rhymed.
And unfortunately…the mushy feelings don’t stop there with my share time. My next memory is that of Peter and the Starcatcher. In case you, my reader, don’t know me very well, let me express how very obsessed I am with all things Peter Pan. I have an entire shelf dedicated to figurines, I own 5 copies of the original book, I have had a sketch personally drawn for me by Disney animators, I could Disney-bound as every character, I’ve dressed as Captain Hook and Peter Pan more times than I can count, I have seen every movie version of anything related to Pan, I bought tickets to the tour of Finding Neverland as soon as they were released, and I am currently sketching a design for a full thigh collage tattoo. But what this show did was more powerful than I could have imagined. Of the 9 times I saw it, I can honestly say that neither I nor anyone else in the audience left with a dry eye. Just…sheer magic. A reminder to embrace adventure, believe in magic, and to have faith…because to have faith is to have wings.
At this point in my theatrical career, I felt unstoppable. 2017 saw my first lighting design in Brelby’s unexpected, a beautifully quirky play. It challenged me and empowered me. It led to me doing lighting design for a production outside of Brelby as well! I was pushing boundaries and fully loving every moment.
I can honestly say that 2018 has been the best year of my life. In fact, my last 3 memories all take place in 2018. First up: Return to Rosie’s Pub. I truly hope you all had a chance to see this beautiful show. Watching these incredible women tell their characters’ stories while also sharing their own amazing talents is something nearly unheard of. The impact it had on me as an artist and a woman is just…ugh. Words cannot express. A beautiful reminder of what it actually means to be a feminist in this world. My last 2 are somewhat selfish. The first is singing “Me and the Sky” during a cabaret from this year. The second is opening night of Powerhouse. I have spent the last 2 years working incredibly hard on my singing abilities and I can finally FINALLY say that I am a loud and proud mezzo! These 2 moments were milestones in my life. I sang out. With no fear of failing or being judged. And based on the feedback I received, I truly impacted some peoples’ lives. What. A. Feeling. Simply breathtaking. I try to be humble. To be a servant to others needs. That’s just who I am as a person. And I am so incredibly blessed to have found that within the realm of theatre. So I hope you enjoyed, if you’ve read this far bless your soul. Follow your dreams and choose to inspire.