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Meet Bryn Dowling: A True Triple Threat

Bryn Dowling began dancing at the same time she was learning how to walk thanks to her dance teacher mother. Born in Utah (but practically an LA resident by age 10), she scored an agent at the young age of three years old. Mostly a commercial actress, it was at age nine that her mother realized Bryn could also sing. "She had me learn the National Anthem to sing in front of thousands of people. I guess you could say I have a stage mom! From Utah I would travel to LA every 5-6 weeks to have singing lessons with Seth Riggs. I would fit in as many dance classes while I was there, and any auditions if they came up."

Talent clearly runs in the family. "My younger sister Sarah Jayne Jensen has been in many Broadway shows including GYPSY, OKLAHOMA, WONDERFUL TOWN, URBAN COWBOY, and the national tour of FOSSE. My youngest sister Whitney Jensen is only 13 and already an accomplished ballerina. She was Clara in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular for two years and has won many international ballet competitions." Bryn also married into a talented family. "My husband's sisters Jackie Ford and Joey Dowling are both dancers and have been Radio City Rockettes. Joey has been in DANCE OF THE VAMPIRES, MAMBO KINGS, and currently SWEET CHARITY. We all live here in NY and work…we're very lucky!"

Growing up in such an "entertaining" family, Bryn was heavily influenced (musically) by such greats as Ella Fitzgerald, Aretha Franklin, Whitney Huston and Sandi Patti. "I remember seeing Gwen Verdon in DAMN YANKEES and loving her! I don't think my list has changed just gotten bigger now, with artists like Alisha Keys and actresses like Gena Rowlands and Cate Blanchette."

Bryn didn't just train with her mother at her dance studio. "I also trained at Ballet West, and in LA and NY. Seth Riggs was my singing coach. Recently I completed the 2 year acting program at William Esper studios. I've also taken classes at School for TV and Film, and HB studios. I have been performing for as long as I can remember and been working on and off since I was little, so I guess it's felt like a career for many years now."

Making her Broadway debut in FOSSE, Bryn developed habits to keep her at the top of her game. "I love doing pilates to keep strong and flexible. I also go to the gym on a regular basis. I give myself a barre, and sing everyday. I like taking classes to keep growing… FOSSE was an amazing show. I did the tour for a couple of months before I came to Broadway and worked with Gwen Verdon (who I have loved for so long) and Anne Reinking - who I met as a young girl when I attended her Musical Theatre Project in Tampa." Always up for a challenge, Bryn wants to work with "as many choreographers and directors as possible as it enables me to grow and develop on so many levels."

After her Broadway debut in FOSSE, Bryn was cast in THE PRODUCERS - a show she hails as an amazing experience and one that "I know I might never have again. Everything just clicked. We knew we were part of something brilliant from day one. We were asked to tell a joke at our auditions. I cannot remember what joke I told though (sorry!) I just remember thinking 'you have to tell a joke to MEL BROOKS! Good luck with that Bryn!' When I got the call that I got THE PRODUCERS I was so excited to be a part of a new show. At the time I was doing Fosse. Patrick Brady was the musical director there and was also going to do THE PRODUCERS. I remember him telling me that I would be the first thing on stage singing and opening the show. I was so excited!" Bryn felt right at home while recording her first cast album since she had spent years prior being a recording artist for EMI.

Next up, Bryn joined the ensemble of another show directed by Susan Stroman - THE FROGS. "THE FROGS experience was wonderful. As with THE PRODUCERS, I was able to work with 'Stro' in the creation of a new show, which is fun to be a part of. She knows what she wants and she is ready from day one. She's able to harness and showcase the individual talents of the cast. Working with Nathan is always a blessing. Just to watch him work is inspiring. He was also the writer of the show, which meant writing and rewriting throughout previews. Roger Bart and I would practically get a new scene every day before the show and Nathan was always working to make things better and funnier. There were many great actors in that show….I learned so much from each of them."

From there, Bryn returned to the choreography of Fosse when she joined the cast of CHICAGO. "Being in the show CHICAGO has been so much fun. First of all, it's such a great show to watch and fun to do. The special thing about this show is that the cast changes so often. You rarely have a week go by when you have the same cast, which makes this the most adaptable company I have been a part of - keeps you on your toes! I have been with the show less than a year, and in that time there has been 4 Roxies, 3 Velmas, 5 Billys, 4 Mamas, and 2 Amos'. The first time I went on for Roxie was an unforgettable experience. Brooke Shields was playing Roxie at the time and I fully expected the audience to be upset because they came to see her. Instead they embraced me, as did the cast, and supported me throughout the show. It really was an amazing experience."

While appearing in CHICAGO, Susan Stroman contacted Bryn and asked her to join the cast of the movie of THE PRODUCERS. "I actually didn't have to audition for the movie. Of course I said yes! Being on the movie set was fabulous. We filmed most of the movie at Steiner Studios in Brooklyn. It's a brand new movie studio, with huge sound stages-really beautiful. On one of the sound stages they recreated 44th street perfectly! In the movie I played many different parts similar to the musical, such as a Pearl Girl dancing with Matthew Broderick in "I Wanna Be A Producer," a little old lady, and a Bavarian Peasant in "Springtime for Hitler." My featured part is an usherette, where I appear at the very beginning and ending of the movie. Working with Nathan and Matthew is always so much fun. Matthew is always trying to get Nathan to laugh and it always works, because he knows what gets him. Staying composed around them is very hard- not always successful-but you try. They have a respect and love for each other that becomes so contagious."

I asked Bryn how she felt about seeing herself bigger than life on the silver screen and she said, "I just attended the premiere, and it seemed like I was with friends watching an amazing show, not really a huge movie musical opening across the nation. When I see it again with others who weren't part of the show it might hit me."

Bryn was on hand for the soundtrack recording session - perhaps experiencing a bit of deja vous. "I also appear in a little surprise at the very end of the movie, after all of the credits…which I guess you'll just have to see!"

Never taking anything for granted, Dowling's thankful for being able to do what she loves most. "I feel so blessed to have been given the many opportunities throughout my career. The most challenging aspect is in the realization of it all, that this is a business, which sometimes means you have to make difficult decisions. I always look for projects that challenge me." As with so many performers, Bryn would like to expand her resume with TV and Film. A true triple threat, let's hope that she's never too far from her next Broadway show.

For more information about THE PRODUCERS: The Movie Musical, click here.

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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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