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, Shelby Huston. She has been seen onstage at Brelby in productions ranging from Spin to Return to Rosie’s Pub. She has designed hair & makeup for several productions, including our upcoming take on the bard’s comedy Much Ado About Nothing.
For today’s blog, Shelby reflects back on 10 memories at Brelby that have made an impact on her.
Going into my 13th show at Brelby, it’s very bittersweet to look back on the countless memories I’ve had since I wandered in as a clueless little crew member several years ago. I had no idea that one show would give me not only theatre experience, but amazing lifelong friendships and a support system I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world. These favorite memories might be out of order, they might not seem significant, but they are the ones that stick out to me on why this theatre holds such a dear place in my heart.
- Windfall. Windfall was my step into Brelby. I walked in terrified to my first day of Q2Q, only really knowing one person in the show beforehand. I was backstage, maybe day 1 or 2 of tech week. Mat Vansen introduced me and said “Hey! This is Shelby!”. Because there was obviously already a Shelby who was actively involved at Brelby, I was quickly given the nickname ‘Little Shelbs.’ With that nickname, I immediately felt like I belonged! I mean, I ALREADY HAD A NICKNAME!
- Postcards from the Apocalypse was my first time doing choreography for a show at Brelby. It was such a happy accident how it happened, but watching the actors collaborate with me and show me their own interpretations brought me back to why I missed dance so much.
- After Hours at Rosie’s Pub. Oh my lord! One of my absolute favorite shows I’ve ever done. I have never been in a cast that was so unconditionally loving, supportive, and kind. I think of you all so fondly. The last show I got to do with one of my very best friends, Alexxis Briviesca. The show where I got close with the breathtaking Ixy Utpadel and Brenna Jackson. My soul sisters.
- One night in particular of Rosie’s Pub, I had a horrible day. My then-boyfriend and I had gotten into a huge fight, I was late to call time, I was in tears backstage with Mat Vansen, trying to console me the best he could. When I walked out to warmups, my fellow ladies (and few strong men), took one look at me and I was immediately swept into silent hugs. Nobody asked what was wrong. Nobody said anything. I was overwhelmed with love and support. It made me cry even harder!
- The first show I really got to design for was Space Junk. What a dream. Dream cast, dream production team, dream director/stage manager. I was having the lovely Erin Coen try on dresses for her character, I asked our director, Luke Gomez, which one he liked better. He said “Which one do YOU like?”. I was in complete shock, because a director had never asked me as a designer what my preference was. I don’t recall answering anything besides a few blubbering words and flustered mumbles. I felt like my voice truly mattered as a designer.
- Space Junk part 2. During the run of Space Junk I was working full-time, going to school full-time, in a musical, and designing for SJ. I was a little bit of a busy bee. One Friday morning, Shelby Maticic messaged me asking if I could step in for one of the roles that night. One of our lovely ladies was out sick. I loved the cast, had a philosophy project due that night, and any sane person would have probably said no. But alas. Cut to 7pm that night and I was in makeup and costume, typing on my computer backstage while memorizing scenes from my voice memo recordings. Even though it was super stressful- it was some of the most fun I’ve ever had onstage. Also, because Robert Fata got to break up with me three times. That was gold.
- A Midsummer Nights Dream! My favorite memory from that show was that every night, I had the pleasure of doing both Brady Anderson and Michael Moramarco’s makeup. No matter what was going on that day, I knew that the moment I got to the theatre and got to spend 30 minutes with those boys would cheer me up. They even got me a card and wine for helping them- such sweethearts!
- Spin. Whirling. Twirling. My first big role at Brelby. The firecracker of Scarlet. I have so many memories from that show. Whether it was continuously apologizing to April Rideout backstage for the digs I had to give her, trying not to laugh with Jon Gradilla while we were behind the counter, or being tremendously bad at roller skating- I met some of my very best friends in that show. I knew them before show, but we stumbled into this beautiful friendship. We build each other up. They are the first I tell anything to. They were the ones there for me during one of the hardest times in my life. That show holds love in my heart, for many reasons. Mel, Sarah, Rebecca, Tyler, Jon- to Inspinity and Beyond.
- Heathers the musical. When I say that I cried when I found out we were doing Heathers, I mean that I sobbed for a solid hour. I love that show, and I not only got to design for it with an INCREDIBLE cast- but I got to work with the immaculate Jessie Tully. I think of Heathers as such an amazing learning experience for me. Jessie taught me so much about wigs, fake blood, even sewing men’s underwear. One day Jessie and I were running around trying to lighten the roots on the Heather Chandler wig, because we weren’t sure if it would be approved. In the span of 30 minutes we ran to 2 separate stores, looking for colored hairspray- I even pulled my own hair out of It’s bun to test the color on my hair to see if it would lighten. It was stress laughing, and a smidge of panic. Just for us to be told that the wig looked great already. Ahhhh, memories.
- I was lucky enough to be one of the few people from the first Rosie’s to be able to come back for the sequel. I played the remarkable Elizabeth Blackwell. Which meant British accent, an 1850s costume, and singing onstage. If I’m completely honest, I hate singing onstage. I have horrid stage-fright. I always have. The first few times I sang during rehearsal I was shaking so much I had to grab the mic stand. I thought, “I can’t do this, everyone’s gonna laugh at me. I’m going to look so stupid”. I thought I was the worst part of the show. One day, Sarah Bary turned to me and said “Your song is literally one of my favorite parts in the whole show, it makes me so happy”. I was shocked. After that, other people in the cast were coming up to me saying that they loved my song or they looked forward to it every night. Then I realized, how lucky am I to be able to share the stage with these people? That gave me the extra few pushes I needed. I still shook, I still got nervous, but I felt so safe with all these inspiring women around me.
It was hard to narrow down specific moments without going into an extremely complicated backstory- these are just some of the memories that make me smile to think about. I hope I didn’t bore you, but I had a lot of people to thank. I still do. Thank you Shelby & Brian, for continuing to allow me to work at a place that’s become such a safe place for me. Where I feel supported, loved, and oh so silly.