Carey Rebecca Brown is no stranger to show business at all. In fact, she has been seen on The Great White Way in hits that include, Ragtime, and Radio City Christmas Spectacular! (Yes, she was a Rockette!) She is no stranger to the small screen, appearing in the hit FreeForm (formerly ABC FAMILY) 'Switched at Birth.' Now she has hit the road with the new national tour of the beloved classic, The Sound of Music! She talks about the show, being on the road, the new elements of this production, and much more!
Can you tell me about this new production of The Sound of Music? What is different from previous productions, is there anything added, is it still a 3 hour show?
Yes, with intermission it still runs about 2hours and 40 minutes, but I must say that the time really flies by. Our fantastic director, Jack O’Brien, has created a production that just flows. Each scene moves so seamlessly into the next. It is quite beautiful. The Sound of Music is interesting. It is such a beloved piece that everyone knows and can sing along to. Because of that, I think so often the story gets lost. We forget that there is a darkness to this piece. The action takes place in Austria just before World War II. People had no idea the extreme terror that was on the horizon. Jack and the other creatives did not want that to get lost in the hummable melodies so they have made it a point to remind the audience of this and of the politics of the time.
You play Sister Berthe in this show. What is the role of your character and how does she have an impact on Maria and the convent?
Sister Berthe is the Mistress of the Novices and I must say, I think she gets a bad rap. People always call her “the mean nun”, but I think she really just looks at things logically. She does not think Maria is suited for the Abbey for a number or reasons and, as we all know, she turns out to be right. To be a nun was not Maria’s true calling. She was meant to be with the Von Trapp family and to become a part of it.
Tell me something very interesting or unique about this show that we may not know!? Is there something crazy that happens in the show that we should keep our eyes peeled for? Is there some secret that you can let us in on?
Well, for those only familiar with the movie you will hear some songs in production that were not in the film. Like wise, there are some songs that you should not expect to hear in our production such as “I Have Confidence” which was written for the movie specifically and never in the original stage show.
What is one of your favorite songs and scenes from the show, and why?
I have to be honest, one of my absolute favorite sequences is the Preludium into the title song. So often in musicals, the show starts with a big opening number, but this show begins with the peaceful sound of choral prayer. We do not hear any instruments until we see Maria, on that bridge, soaking in every last minute she has before she has to return to the abbey. I think it is just beautiful and very exciting!
What city are you most looking forward to seeing? (other than Philadelphia!)
Hmmmm … this is tough because there are a few. I am really looking forward to Denver. I have never been and I have just heard the greatest things about it. I’m also looking forward to our two weeks in Chicago. Aside from it being a great city, I have a lot of family there and it’s always so nice to visit!
Can you share some of your pre-show warm ups you do to get ready for this show?
Well, a couple of hours before the show begins I like to eat a light salad or have a smoothie. I don’t like to go onstage feeling full so I leave plenty of time for some digestion. Then half an hour before places, I like to have a warm cup of tea as I’m getting ready and then I stretch a bit before I go on stage just to loosen myself up. It’s funny, your pre-show warm up really sort of starts as soon as you wake up. One of the first thoughts that runs through my mind every morning is, “how does my throat feel?”. That often informs what the rest of my day and “warm up” will look like.
You guest starred on the hit FreeForm (previously ABC FAMILY) TV Series "Switched at Birth", will you be making any more appearances on there? Do you like TV acting or stage acting more?
I did have a little role on Switched At Birth. It really was the loveliest set to work on. Everyone was so fantastically welcoming, even knowing that I would only be working with them for one day. I cannot say enough wonderful things about Constance Marie and Gilles Marini, who I had my scene with. I would love to go back and work with that group again, so if anyone from Switched at Birth is reading this …. (wink, wink). I must say, while I enjoy film and television, I just love the rehearsal process in the theatre. I also love the energy of a live audience.
What some people may not know is that you are actually from the Philadelphia area. You grew up in Swarthmore, PA from what I understand, and you are a diehard Phillies Phan (get the play on words there), LOL. So tell me, how does it feel to be returning to your hometown and bringing this show with you?
I mean, isn’t that how you’re supposed to spell “Phan”? My poor Phillies (more on that later). You know, Philadelphia is such a great theatre town and I grew up with some of the most supportive people who really nurtured my love of music and theatre and who, bless their hearts, are very proud that I am doing what I love. Now when they ask me when I’m coming back home to perform, it’s nice to finally be able to say, “I’m here!”.
What are you most excited for when you get into Philly?
I am really excited to see some family and friends. I don’t get back as often as I’d like, so whenever I have the chance to see people and catch up I always take it! We are pretty busy the week of the show, but I must say that I am hoping to spend some time in Old City and to get a vegan cheesesteak (I know, the blasphemy!) from Frankie’s on Fairview which is just outside of the city in Woodlyn.
Is this your first time performing on The Academy of Music Stage?
You know, this is my first time performing in a theatrical piece at The Academy of Music. It is very special.
Since you are a Philllies fan I do have to ask. Who is your favorite player? I know you are theater person, but i am sure you know that they have had not the best year. If you can, what do you think they need to do to better themselves?
Well, first let me say that I am a theatre person by profession and I, obviously, enjoy the arts, but I absolutely love sports too. The Phils. Ugh. It has been tough trying to keep up with them from afar. I receive daily emails updating me on all of their happenings, but last season it felt like as soon as I got used to seeing a newer name on the roster they would get rid of them! My heart shattered into a million pieces when we lost Jimmy! It still hurts! It then shattered again when Cole left us. My favorite players of all time are Rollins and Schmidt and I have a super soft spot in my heart for Juan Samuel.
What to do to better themselves? Oh dear, where to begin? The list will be too long, so I will just keep it simple and give the most obvious answer - they need to rebuild. They need players with great team chemistry and who excel at their specific positions , they need coaches who know how to best utilize the talents each player has, and they need management who knows how to fill all of these positions. I am hopeful that we are on the right path. Fingers crossed!
You were once apart of the 'Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular' show, what was that like? What is one secret you can tell us about being in that no one knows? Any crazy diets, or crazy stories from the run? What makes that show so special that every year it performs to SOLD OUT crowds, and keeps coming back time and time again?
That show is like a well oiled machine and you must be focused, focused, focused with every single move you make and every single note you sing. The Rockettes are an institution and, I’ll tell you what, those ladies are so impressive. You are doing 5 shows a day sometimes, so it is very hard on their bodies. They make it look so effortless and yet between shows they try to rest, eat (they burn SO many calories in one show alone), are up in the PT room taking ice baths, getting stretched out, and or massaged. These women are athletes and they take discipline and hard work to another level which is why they are always on point and why people are still so excited to see them every holiday season.
What is the best advice you can give to aspiring performers today?
I would offer two bits of advice. 1. BE YOURSELF! Do not try to imitate another performer even if you think they are amazing. Everyone brings something uniquely theirs to the table. Embrace your personal gifts. 2. Be kind to and support your fellow performers. We all have our strengths, we all have our weaknesses, and we can all learn from one another. Kindness and support make a sometimes difficult journey just a little bit easier.
Finally, finish this sentence.. Carey Rebecca Brown is…
A very happy lady and a work in progress!
THE SOUND OF MUSIC runs at the Academy of Music March 15-20 2016. For tickets visit www.kimmelcenter.org/broadway to learn more about the show visit thesoundofmusicontour.com. To keep up with Carey Rebecca Brown visit her website careyrebeccabrown.com