BWW Interviews: Brandy Collazo Talks Hillbarn's CURTAINS

BWW Interviews: Brandy Collazo Talks Hillbarn's CURTAINS

BroadwayWorld San Francisco spoke with Brandy Collazo of Hillbarn Theatre's production of Curtains, the Kander and Ebb musical opening this weekend in Foster City. Collazo, who plays Nikki in the who-done-it comedy, has performed extensively throughout the Bay Area with PCRT, DTC, Palo Alto Players, 42nd Street Moon and Willows Theatre. She has been nominated for a Bay Area Theater Critics Circle Award, and has received two Shellie Awards for Best Actress. Her experience also includes work with Hillbarn Theatre's youth conservatory. Read BroadwayWorld's interview with Brandy below!

Curtains was one of Kander and Ebb's last collaborations, so it certainly is special in that way. Do you have any past experience with Kander and Ebb shows?

I do! I was Sally Bowles in Cabaret with Pacific Coast Repertory's production a few years ago. It was a wonderful, wonderful experience.

Curtains is very different in style and story from Cabaret and Chicago. How would you describe the music and story of the show?

The music styles in Curtains are divided between the "show within the show" and the real-world. The show within the show is an elevated version of a 1950's Broadway musical. It's bright, almost overly cheery at times; big dance numbers, that feeling of the Golden Age of Broadway, but maybe poking a bit of good-natured fun at it too. The real-world is a bit less showy and the numbers have a bit more realism.

To me, Cabaret and Chicago (especially Cabaret) are much darker subjects. Though Curtains deals with a murder mystery and all that entails, the story itself is humorous, and in fact focuses more on love stories: lost love between the characters Georgia and Aaron, blooming love for Nikki and Cioffi, and strained love between mother and daughter duo Carmen and Bambi. But above all, Curtains is a tribute to the things that people love and enjoy most about musical theater.

It really addresses the art of putting on a show and what that means to the people who do it. The infamous saying "The show must go on" really applies here, because these characters are still working hard to put on a great musical even while people are dropping like flies!

It must be very special as an actor to put on a show that is in essence a tribute to musical theater. The New York Times wrote that Curtains is a declaration of passionate love for the theater. Will audiences see that reflected in this production?

Most definitely! There are so many wonderful lines in the script that support this, and it's a joy to get to play them out. The song "Show People" is essentially that declaration in a nutshell. I think that moving forward in the coming tech/dress week, our cast will continue to build relationships and energies on stage that carry into the audience and leave them feeling that they belong in this world, too.

The lead character of the musical is Detective Frank Cioffi, who comes in to solve a murder mystery, but really brings these characters and their love of what they do back to life. And I'm sure audiences will relate to his love of theater. As Nikki, you get to interact a lot with Frank. Tell me a bit about these characters and what it has been like developing them in the rehearsal process.

Oh I could gush about Ross (Frank Cioffi) forever! He's so wonderful to work with, because he is always prepared, always willing to try new things, and handles carrying the show with such grace. Plus he makes me laugh, and we can be nerds together. I feel this is the key to being a successful onstage pair! Our character development has been really fun for me because we get to portray a charmingly awkward duo who find a real connection amid the murder mystery, and I think that allows us to play around a lot. Nikki and Frank's storyline is wonderful because they are so genuine and earnest with each other. Separately, what Nikki's role might be in the mystery of the whodunit has been great to explore as well.

What have you personally related to as you've put this show together? And what will our readers relate to when they see it at Hillbarn?

I think that any role I have performed reasonably well has been a natural extension of my own personality. So, I can relate to Nikki's eagerness, her awkwardness and her desire to do the right thing. I also really get her when she says "I can't imagine doing anything else with my life" in relation to being an actor. It's a feeling I genuinely have. The characters in this show are so varied and it's such a big ensemble piece that there will be someone for everyone to connect to. Truly. Each person onstage has a story to tell, and the audience will find someone whose journey resonates with them, I've no doubt.

As the sets, costumes, music and more come together, what can you tell BroadwayWorld's readers to expect from Hillbarn's production?

Expect to laugh! A lot! To be moved, and surprised. Expect to leave feeling like you were a part of something special, because I truly think it will be.

Hillbarn Theatre's production of Curtains plays May 7 - 31. For more information and tickets, visit www.hillbarntheatre.org.

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