Candy Brown is a face you may have seen, even if you can’t quite place it. She has a face and a youthful glide that belies her years. She moved to Denver six years ago and she says, seemingly surprised at how long it’s been herself. Having been the daughter of an Air Force career man, Brown was accustomed to moving, and unlike many others, really enjoyed it. “I think my parents never acted like it was a chore, but rather an adventure, so I thought it was exciting.” Born in northern California, the family moved to Queens, New York, where they had family, when she was not quite a year old. Brown began dancing at the neighborhood Bernice Johnson’s Dancing School when she was only two. At age 11, her family moved to the island of Okinawa and then to Minnesota where she attended high school and one year of college. It was during that year she took a dance class to fulfill a physical education requirement. Having not danced since leaving NY, Brown was pleasantly surprised at how much she still loved it. She went to Macalester College in St Paul, Minnesota to become a school teacher, but after the discovery of her new passion, she left the college and moved to New York City to become a professional dancer. If that story sounds familiar, yes, it was that story that became the tale of “Richie” in A Chorus Line.
Brown’s first Broadway show was Hello Dolly with Pearl Bailey and Cab Calloway. She went on to perform in Purlie with Cleavon Little and Melba Moore and then with Robert Guillaume and Patti Jo. She danced in the noteworthy television special Liza with a Z with Liza Minnelli, directed and choreographed by Bob Fosse, who became her mentor. Shows that followed included her first trip to Denver with the tour of Applause and the original Broadway companies of Pippin and Chicago. She was also part of the groundbreaking workshop that became A Chorus Line.
Brown left NYC for a career in television and film in Los Angeles where she was quite successful in commercials and episodic television (Six Feet Under, CSI: Miami, Chicago Hope, etc.). She acted in a few movies (Zebrahead, Baby Boy and Ali where she played the young Ali’s mother). She went back to NYC one more time to work with the acclaimed producer/director Hal Prince in the musical Grind.
Before moving to Colorado, Brown went back to school and completed her BA in Performing Arts at St Mary’s of California, Moraga. Over the years while living in California, she had worked at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts as an actor in House of Flowers, Waiting to Be Invited and A Streetcar Named Desire. She has also been a staple for the past 10 years as a reader for Stories on Stage. The mountains drew her back and after returning to Denver as a resident, the Denver School of Performing Arts recruited her as a guest artist to teach Movement and Body Awareness in the Theatre Department. With lit up eyes, she said “I’m finally a teacher after all.”
Brown has now been tapped into directing and choreographing Once on This Island, with books and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens and music by Stephen Flaherty, at the Aurora Fox Theatre. The Broadway musical (1991) starred LaChanze and garnered several Tony Award nominations. It is a story, set on an island in the Caribbean, telling the tale of love conquers all. Local upcoming star and Denverite, SuCh, who performed the role of Celie in the Fox’s The Color Purple, will be the loving orphan TiMoune who brings the village together with her unwavering love. Other local notables, Dwayne Carrington, Leonard Barrett, Anna High and ShaShauna Staton lend their talents to this musical fable.
The show will have 12 performances only running from Sept. 12 through Oct. 5 on Friday and Saturday nights and Sunday matinees. Get your tickets early – it is sure to be a sell out!
Editor’s note: For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.aurorafoxartscenter.org or call 303-739-1970.