Three Brownlees to grace three local stages in three different weeks

| May 6, 2015
Eight year old Daniel Brownlee has caught the acting bug from his parents Albert and Tamarah Brownlee.

Eight year old Daniel Brownlee has caught the acting bug from his parents Albert and Tamarah Brownlee.

By Madeline Marcelia Garvin

Everyone has heard the old adages that apples don’t fall too far from the tree, and he is a chip off of the old block. Essentially, these are threads that run so true when it comes to acting in the Brownlee clan. Late Friday afternoon on the campus of Indiana Tech, I was able to engage in conversation with a very talented, precocious young person, none other than eight-year-old Daniel Brownlee, the son of Albert and Tamarah Brownlee. Like his mother and father, Daniel has been bitten by the acting bug.

Daniel, who is frequently on the Honor Roll at Haley Elementary School, is in the third grade, and he will make his public debut on May 14 at the Black Box Theatre in The Magic Pebble Gang, under the direction of former Fort Wayne Community Schools teacher, Leslie Hormann, the Fort Wayne Youth Theatre’s director, who incidentally honed her skills under the great Harvey Cox. Nevertheless, Daniel informed me that this is not his first time on stage, because he has been in several plays, and was the only kindergarten student at Haley fortunate enough to capture a speaking role in Flakes and Hats.

When I inquired why he tried out for this particular role, Daniel stated that he had witnessed his other family members performing locally, so he wanted to try it as well. Thus, he informed me that he tried out for the production on a Tuesday, and he was contacted on Thursday that he would be cast as Lucky, a pirate, and he felt lucky to be called back. According to Daniel, this is a very lively play which focuses on some young people who find a magic pebble. Due to the discovery of this magic pebble, they are transported to a pirate ship, where a girl teleports the Captain and the Captain’s sidekick to a local community.  Daniel and the other cast members of The Magic Pebble Gang will have an evening performance on May 14, a matinee and evening performance on May 16 and a matinee performance on May 17.

For most families, transporting a child the caliber of Daniel to and from play practice would be enough, but remember the Brownlees are not typical parents. For, as pointed out in an October issue of Frost, both of Daniel’s parents, Albert and Tamarah have appeared on stage together at the Civic Theatre in Dream Girls and at the First Presbyterian Theatre in A Lesson Before Dying. This time, both parents will be appearing in two different plays on two different stages. Though unbelievable, this is indicative of this family’s passion for community theatre.

Tamarah is scheduled to perform in First Presbyterian’s upcoming production of Nunsense, a comedic musical about five nuns ensconced in managing a talent show to raise funds to bury the other nuns of the convent. The show commences April 23 and runs through April 26; May 1 through May 3 and May 8 through May 11. When I asked Tamarah why she chose to try out for this particular play, she shared that Thom Hofrichter, the director pulled her coattails early in the fall when she appeared in A Lesson Before Dying, and said that if you are interested in trying out in the spring, there may be a role for you in Nunsense. Being passionate and committed to community theatre, Tamarah took this to heart, and after discussing it with Albert, she tried out for the role of Sister Regina Hubert, the African American nun who is a primary character. Aside from having interacted with a college classmate who was Catholic, Tamarah indicated that she knew little about Catholicism. However, having had experience working with Thom, who she enjoys as a Director, she decided to give this a try, and she is cast along with five other wonderful females who also portray nuns in Dan Groggins’s  glorious musical, Nunsense, that is loosely based on Groggins’s actual life experience while interacting with some nuns in a convent.

Although Tamarah discussed her taking the major role as Sister Regina Hubert with Albert, there was simply no way he could refuse her request, because he will be appearing in the Civic Theatre’s upcoming musical production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Like Tamarah, Albert enjoys performing in at least one theatrical production a year. And, even though Albert had never heard of this play, he auditioned, because he found it interesting after reading the script, especially since there are six adults performing as children out of the play’s nine actors. Like his wife, Albert had just come off of A Lesson before Dying and was looking for another role in which he could perform.

Though Cabaret was one of the recent productions at the Civic Theatre, Albert stated that he didn’t think there would be a role for him in that. Thus, he is happy to be cast in this adult comedic musical as the comfort counselor, Mitchell Mahoney, who brings not only comfort; but also some comic relief in this somewhat risqué adult musical comedy. Albert can be seen performing on the main stage of the Arts United Center May 1 through May 10 with some very delightful cast members, who are exceptional dancers and singers, rising to the occasion to meet the expectations of Director John Tolley.

Overall, Albert indicated that as a board member, his goal is to see the Civic Theatre continue having performances with a wider appeal to diverse populaces and attract varied ethnicities to its stage. Aside from this, those attending the upcoming performances of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, if interested, can let CEO Phil Colglazier, who will be in the foyer prior to the commencement of each production, know that they are interested in a participatory role. Who knows? One attendee may actually be discovered that afternoon or evening.

Yes, the Brownlees have got it bad! And, if Daniel’s younger siblings have anything to do with it, they will be following in the family footsteps very soon. On a whole, it’s a good thing for the Fort Wayne community and the African American community to see diverse personages on stage; so hats off to the Brownlees! Daniel and Albert, break a leg! And, Tamarah, as Hamlet would say, “Get thee to a nunnery!”

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Category: Arts, Entertainment, Features, People

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Frost Illustrated is Fort Wayne's oldest weekly newspaper. Your Independent Voice in the Community, featuring news & views of African Americans since 1968.

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