The Age of Aquarius dawns again this week when the legendary rock musical HAIR opens in Serenbe‘s Wildflower Meadow. The main production of the Serenbe Playhouse Summer Season–dubbed the Season of Change–this outdoor performance directed by Brian Clowdus opens Thursday, July 25th and runs through Sunday, August 11th. We caught up with lead actress, Kylie Brown, to get a vibe on this incredible venture, as well as the exciting Atlanta theatre scene.
You’re originally from Atlanta, born and raised, right? Did you study to become a professional actor?
Yes and Yes. I was born at Piedmont Hospital, actually, and grew up in DeKalb and Gwinnett counties.
I attended Shenandoah Conservatory in Virginia for a few years and left to work professionally. I’m also an ASHA graduate.
How old were you when you began performing before an audience?
My first performance in a “play” was in fifth grade. More in Middle and High School. My first professional work was at the Aurora Theatre as “Kim” in Bye Bye Birdie at age 17. I’d consider my first role at the Alliance Theatre to be my big break in 2004–I played “Belle” in A Christmas Carol and it was an absolutely wonderful experience.
When did you know theatre was your life? Is this something you’ve always felt or do you remember any specific crossroads?
I’m incredibly shy, so I’ve always performed out of necessity. I’m performing right now in this interview … Eeek!
How has being raised in the South impacted your outlook on life?
Southerners are terminally nice and being that way has not always worked in my favor! But I do prefer the kindness to what I see in other parts of the country. The South is home, the sights, sounds, smells. The Atlanta-area theatre scene has grown so much in the past 10 years. There’s a large group of theatre lovers here, which is wonderful.
This is your first Serenbe feature production, and I know you’re excited about that. Serenbe is truly a place like no other. What makes the Serenbe theatre experience unique?
Serenbe uses the entire community and its lovely environment as a backdrop. Every production is staged in a different part of the community. They once built a stage in water. This production of HAIR will be in The Wildflower Meadow, so the surroundings totally enhance the story.
Tell us about HAIR. How do you feel the themes of a 60’s Flower Child musical translate for a modern audience?
Hair changed everything about musical theatre, and the 60’s are still romanticized and attractive to people. Times are tough now, and that time is looked back on as a time when young people rejected the status quo and sought peace and love and a different way of living.
Yes, we’re all still searching for that aren’t we. And we witness social and political change almost daily. Your character, Sheila, starts out as such a wide-eyed ingenue. How are you connecting with her?
I can relate to her frustration with society and the absurdity of what is thought to be important by our culture (money, possessions, power) versus what truly is important.
The incredibly talented Brian Clowdus is the brains behind Serenbe, and he will be both director and producer for the musical. What surprises does he have in store for us in this production?
If I told you it wouldn’t be a surprise! Plus, I’m just in it. I have no idea what’s happening in the production office (but who wouldn’t want to be a fly on that brilliant wall). As talented as Brian is, I have no doubt there will be some beautifully artistic surprises in store for Serenbe patrons.
Is there a dream role you’ve always wanted to play?
This question is so difficult to answer. For today, my dream roles would be anything Shakespearean, Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire, and originating a role in a new musical. Also, the role of “Mom” would be a dream come true.
When you’re not performing, what else could we find Kylie Brown up to?
I enjoy a great deal of quiet time, playing my ukulele, reading, hiking, swimming, going to movies and the theatre. The beach holds magic for me, especially St. Simon’s Island, Georgia. I do have a ten-year visa for India in my passport that’s crying out to me, too.
What books can be found on your bedside table or in your e-reader?
- Any Pat Conroy novel
- Invention of the Human
If your house caught on fire, what non-living thing would you grab?
- Ganges water
Name three things you cannot live without (other than God, family or friends).
- Hot tub/sauna
Kylie, thank you SO much for taking time out of your rehearsals to talk with us — and thanks to Amy Lesesne for these gorgeous photos!