Players Guild Theater musical opens March 30
There were two main reasons Keitha Brown decided to audition for The Players Guild’s “Chicago”.
Reason # 1: “I thought it would be fun to do something with Aaron again,” she said, referring to her husband, Aaron Brown, who she’s been in acting with on and off since the mid-90s. , including a long there is a “Cabaret” production at the 8:15 Theater in Green that starred Keitha as Sally Bowles and Aaron as Cliff. The couple, married since 1999, are not doing too badly at the “Chicago” auditions. She landed the starring role of Roxie Hart, a murderous celebrity seeker in showbiz whose ambition exceeds her talent, and he plays Billy Flynn, a famous and suave lawyer surrounded by showgirls. Together, they perform a ventriloquist comic number titled “We Both Reached For the Gun”.
Reason # 2: “I wanted to dance again,” she said. “My dancing shoes have my maiden name underneath, that’s how long ago. Choreography is what I’m trained for. I’ve been doing this longer than I’ve been singing or performing. It brings me back. to my childhood days. ” Unfortunately, it was at the Cedar Dance Center in Canal Fulton in January 1995 that Aaron and Keitha met for the first time. “I was the only guy and there were 16 girls,” he recalls. The couple went on to participate in numerous dance competitions.
Most recently seen as the tragic Fantine in the Players Guild’s production of “Les Misérables” (“My All-Time Favorite Role,” she said) and as an upbeat country music legend in “Always. .. Patsy Cline ”from the Stardust Dinner Theater. Brown and her husband are selective in their theatrical activities due to the responsibility of raising three sons, whom she is also raising at home.
“During rehearsals you have to leave your family Sunday through Thursday every night for four hours,” she said. This is why she and Aaron usually alternate or “tag team”; he recently played Robert Kennedy in the solo piece “RFK” at the Players Guild. “We used to do back-to-back shows no matter what,” she said. “Now Aaron has his big boy job and we have three kids.” (Aaron is director of neighborhood investments for Habitat for Humanity East Central Ohio.)
It was the couple’s sons who insisted they audition together for “Chicago.” “They understand the arts, it’s in their blood,” she said. “We have always really supported them.” When asked if the boys would come see “Chicago,” she replied, “No, that’s a little too risky.”
Of her character on the show, Roxie, Brown said, “She only has one goal, to get into vaudeville, no matter who she has to walk on. We don’t have much in common, which I find funny. I find that I have no problem separating myself from my character. “
The role presents other challenges. “There’s a lot of singing and dancing at the same time, that’s something I rehearsed on the treadmill,” she said. “I love the Fosse style choreography. Michael (Lawrence Akers, the choreographer) does a really good job recreating this style. It’s awesome.”
Asked about her ‘Chicago’ co-star Heidi Swinford, Brown said, “Heidi and I have become really good friends, which is funny because on the show we’re rivals. We’re very similar in our methods. (acting) and the way we think too much about everything. When we play a role, it’s all-consuming. (In bed at night), I have to do the scene perfectly in my head before I can fall asleep.
The stage version of “Chicago,” which has performed nonstop on Broadway since 1996, is “much more ironic” than the 2002 film version, Brown said. “I didn’t expect it to be such a comedy. It’s a farce. It’s entertaining. A little escape for a few hours. (The arena theater) is really intimate and the people are really close to you. It reminds me of the 8:15 day old theater. I love when you can break that fourth wall and interact with the audience. “
NOTE: Due to prior engagement, Keitha Brown will not appear in performances of “Chicago” on April 6, 7 and 8. Sally Bowles in “Cabaret”.