Brooke Sunny Moriber: Fringe's Latest Femme Fatale

Anyone who has the chance to talk to Brooke Sunny Moriber will quickly discover a very poised, intelligent and creative individual. One in the theater industry who is constantly working and challenging herself with each new project she takes to task. I sat down with Brooke to discuss the many facets of her career thus far and how it all began...

"My very first audition was for Les Miserables and how that happened was that I sang at a party my parents had and one of my mother's friends cousin was a manager, so she called up her cousin and said that she wanted to have her hear me sing. I sang over the phone to her and she got me an audition and that was my first job. It took a couple of months - the process. I replaced the original girl, so it took awhile. It was very exciting to get the first job I auditioned for - it should always be that easy. I remember I was so terrified for my first performance but the minute I got on stage everything was ok. It was fun and a really great experience. I can't remember a time in my life where I didn't know this is wanted I wanted to do."

Brooke was fortunate to find immediate support right at home because her mother was an actress. "She's helped me a lot. She's the best acting coach anyone could ever get, and she's my rock and best friend."

"A year after Les Miserables, I was in Aspects of Love which was my first understudy job. It was a great cast, I loved the score and being able to do the show. I think it's my favorite Andrew Lloyd Webber musical - it's very beautiful and even though I was a kid, I really appreciated the music and thought it was gorgeous."

Next up for Brooke was Parade working with Jason Robert Brown. "He is so amazingly talented it's kind of insane. We did a lot of readings, a workshop - of all the shows I've ever done that was the one that I really felt like we were such a family and when we found out the show was going to close (on Broadway) there was so much crying - so much heartbreak. I had been involved with Parade for 2 years, it was really hard."

While she appreciates the big Broadway musicals - especially ones that inspire her like her experience with Wild Party, Brooke loves the new and interesting works, much like Alison Fraser. "That's exactly what I like to do. I've been lucky because those have been the roles that have been offered to me and I've just fallen into that but I'm so happy it's worked out that way."

Brooke was in Follies which she says was an amazing experience. Sondheim was present during the rehearsal process which Brooke was excited about since he is one of her favorite composers so she was "just so thrilled to be doing that. Just having his presence there was incredible. I was one of the last people seen for that role and they were having trouble casting it. They didn't think I was right for the role because of shows like The Wild Party, people just thought of me as the belter. But I'm actually a soprano - I started out as a soprano - so I kind of forced my way into the audition and let them hear for themselves."

Out of town, Brooke was seen in The Education of Randy Newman - as the first wife. Brooke hopes the show finds its way to NY because "it was a really great show and of course the music is incredible. I had a great time doing it and Danny Jenkins, who played Randy was amazing - he just IS Randy Newman. He's such a big fan of his that just the way he sings, the way he talks in it - it was unbelievable. I'd love to be involved in the show again."

Off-Broadway last season, Brooke was in Aunt Dan and Lemon - a very challenging role. The role of Mindy was not the role she originally went in to audition for (she went in for a smaller role), but she had worked with Scott Elliot before in a show called Hazelwood, Junior High and she wanted to work with him again because he was a great teacher. "He called me in but didn't think I'd be interested in the role of Mindy because of the nude scene that was in it and because it was so out there. So I went in for one of the smaller roles and he just asked if I would just read for Mindy and I said ok. I didn't realize there was any nudity in it and I thought (for that role) that they would just hire a star or something which is why I didn't go in for it. So I read for it and he said he'd really like me to do it. He was concerned and asked if I would have a problem doing the nude scene. So I called my mom up and asked her what I should do. She said 'What's your problem? It's a great part!" It WAS a great part, and a great experience." And was playing Mindy difficult? "The role is very challenging because she's a murderer. She's not immoral, she's amoral and I was so excited to play a part like that because it's rare to get such a juicy role for a woman and I felt really lucky. As for doing the nude scene, I would do it 10,000 times again if the role required it because it was freeing - it's just the human body, it's acting and in Aunt Dan and Lemon - it had to be in that moment otherwise the scene wouldn't have had the same affect on the audience. It wasn't gratuitous. And I wasn't the only one naked in the scene - Carlos Leon also was so I wasn't 'alone' "

Brooke has also been involved with a workshop of "WAS" and it's something she has tremendous faith in and is excited to be involved again when it plays in Dayton, Ohio later this year, directed by David Pittu. Brooke admires Joe Thalken who wrote the music and "is just waiting for him to become really really big one day because he's so talented..and it will happen" For those that haven't heard of "WAS" - it's based the book (by Geoff Ryman) on the real story behind the Wizard of Oz's Dorothy Gale and the girl who inspired L. Frank Baum to write it. It's vastly different than the show WICKED and involves not only the story of the real Dorothy in 1880, but also that of a man coming to terms with his illness in 1980 who had a childhood obsession with The Wizard of Oz.

While Brooke loves singing other peoples work, she's no stranger to the craft herself as she has embarked on creating her first album. She was working with a label (which she left a few months ago) and started working with new producers who she praises greatly. She's writing the things she's always wanted to write and is hoping to have a few tracks out as early as September. "The music is a combination of Avril Levigne and Evanescence. I'm so excited about it. I just started working with these guys and already feel this is it. That I'm finally doing what I want to do. "

Funnily, Brooke claims she is a terrible musician, playing the piano very badly. But she "plunks out the melody" and then hands it over to be arranged. She's always wanted to be in the recording industry and a few years ago realized that "the only way 'they' were going to listen to me is if I give them original music. I had always written music on the side but never figured I would be a writer but I love it so much now I can't imagine not writing my own stuff. I do my best writing when it's like 2 in the morning and I can't sleep and I am thinking too much so I'll just get up and scratch something out."

Brooke wants to take her singing career "all the way" and has confidence that it's going to happen. We joked that in the future she'll make a huge name for herself in the recording industry with hit songs and then will be invited back to Broadway and everyone will cry out "Stunt Casting!" - the ultimate irony. But Brooke stated quite clearly that she'll never give up musical theater "because there's nothing like it. I want to do it all - recording, film, TV, theater..."

Currently, she is in rehearsals for the fringe production of "Lulu: The Musical" a project she found out about through her agent. After visiting their website, reading the script and listening to the CD, she knew it was a part she had to get. "I was completely blown away by it. The music is gorgeous and the script is incredible and the role I am playing - they just don't come of the blue like this. So I auditioned for them. Since the music reminded me of The Wild Party (it's still different, but it takes place in the 20s like The Wild Party does) I sang a song from that. It wasn't a song I sang in the show, but I took a chance and it paid off. They called me back and wanted me for the role"

LULU: The Musical is NOT about the cartoon character, it's the story based on Frank Wedekind's plays. "It's a very complicated show" says Brooke, "but in a nutshell, it's about a femme fatale (LULU) who has a deadly combination of innocence and sexuality. In a way she's objectified by men, but she also knows her power over them and uses it. I don't want to give too much away. Wedekind's version takes place at the turn of the century but the creators have updated it to the 1920s and there's a specific reason for that - but you'll have to see the show to find out. It's pretty thrilling. You can read a details synopsis on the official site - but they were careful to not give it away...just come and see it!"

So what inspires and motivates Brooke both professionally and personally? "There are so many things that do but what I really want is to go as far as I can in this business (I know this sounds typical) that I will have enough power to say what I think and affect change in the many causes I believe in. I also dream one day of building a clinic. A cause that's very important to me is immune disorders and I read a lot about the power of the mind to heal the body. I believe in western medicine, but also those methods which don't necessarily consist of uses drugs to heal. So I'd love to set up a clinic that had all disciplines - western medicine, eastern, acupuncture, support groups, etc. What inspires me in theater are pieces like LULU. Pieces that are not typical. I love the dance shows, the revivals, and they are great but I am so inspired by new work and new composers. There's a whole new sound that's starting to develop now - a little more complex and people are starting to embrace that. The music in LULU is very complex - very lush and jazzy, but you will come out of the theater humming it."

Brooke's role models include Linda Rondstadt, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, and of course Barbra Streisand. "I'm inspired by singers with a beautiful tone in their voice and feeling behind it. There are some beautiful voices out there, but without the feeling, there's no heart. I also love Janis Joplin - extremely passionate. My favorite actress is Ingrid Bergman. If you watch all the old movies - she was so far ahead of her time. So real and honest. "

Having such a busy career, one wonders if Brooke even has any free time - and if so, what she does that's just for her. "I paint...and I draw, And if I couldn't sing, dance or act - that's what I'd do." You'll be able to see some of Brooke's work when her CD comes out as she plans to create the artwork herself. She also likes to read right before she goes to sleep. "It helps me go to sleep because I'm usually thinking too much when I lie down and reading puts me somewhere else."

Looking ahead, Brooke will be finishing her album and was just cast in Caligula as part of the New York Musical Festival. And while she has no immediate plans, Brooke did confess that she'd love to write a musical one day.

You can catch Brooke in LULU as part of the New York Fringe Festival August 24-28 at the Lucille Lortel Theatre at 121 Christopher Street (between Bleeker and Hudson) with performances on:

Tuesday, August 24th at 6:30pm
Wednesday, August 25th at 8:45pm
Thursday, August 26th at 10:15pm
Friday, August 27th at 2:30pm

Saturday, August 28th at 12 noon

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From This Author Craig Brockman

Craig Brockman and independent video editor and producer in the entertainment industry and has served as both Senior Editor and Multimedia Director for BroadwayWorldand. He (read more...)

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