Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera is my favourite musical, but I’m just one of many, many ‘Phans’ of the show. The second longest-running musical in the West End (just behind Les Miserables), audiences have been coming to Her Majesty’s Theatre ‘for one purpose, and one alone’ for over 28 years now, ‘brought to the seat of sweet music’s throne’ by a show which is as close to musical theatre perfection as is probably possible. One of the biggest musicals in the West End, it doesn’t just appeal to theatre-goers, but the performers themselves. I’ve heard many musical theatre actors/actresses credit Phantom with being the inspiration that led to a career on the stage, and many more name it as a dream job. One current cast member is living the dream at Her Majesty’s Theatre, performing in the show as a Swing and having played the starring role of The Phantom on-stage there on multiple occasions now. A fantastic talent and leading-man-in-the-making, Kieran Brown is put under the spotlight in this edition of In Profile.
Kieran Brown has been a familiar face on the London theatre scene for many years now, but originally hails from Falkirk, Scotland. A natural performer, he was born to be on the stage, but it was a production of Les Miserables at the Edinburgh Playhouse that helped him make the childhood decision that this was what he wanted to do, inspired by Peter Karrie who was playing Jean Valjean. As a student at Larbert High School, it was the encouragement and guidance of Drama teacher Bill Graham that led to him performing in the Falkirk Children’s Theatre, school productions, and with Graham’s theatre company, Tryst Theatre. He credits Graham as a mentor who provided him with a firm foundation in the basics of stagecraft, setting him in good stead for the continuance of his training at performing arts school.
He was accepted into the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (now named The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland) and spent three years there, taking 2 months out to play the title role of Aladdin (Adam Smith Theatre) as a 2nd year student and also appearing as Sebastian in Twelfth Night (Brunton Theatre) in his final year. He graduated in 2000 with a BA (Hons) in Dramatic Studies and hasn’t looked back since.
One of his earliest post-graduate roles was Juror in Trial By Jury at the Covent Garden Festival, followed by the TV role of Sam in BBC Television’s Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased). It wasn’t long before the West End came-a-calling though. Brown made his West End début in November 2001, playing the role of Feuilly in the award-winning hit musical, Les Miserables, which was running at the Palace Theatre at that time.
After leaving Les Miserables, he appeared as Jordan Ellis in The Ballad of Little Jo at the Bridewell Theatre before spending some time on the road as a principal soloist in various concert tours, such as The All New Gaeity Whirl 2005, and the European Tours of Musical Starlights, Musical Classics and The Best of Musical: 2008. Other stage credits include playing Lover 1 in Four Unlikely Lovers (Trafalgar Studios), Lenny Lowenstein in the Perfect Pitch showcase of Through The Door, Dane O’Neil in the world première production of The Thorn Birds – A Musical (UK Tour), Tom in Over The Threshold (Jermyn Street Theatre), Prince Valiant in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (Princes Hall, Aldershot), and Elton John/Tony Christie in Bill Kenwright’s UK Tour of Laughter In The Rain.
Brown was invited to perform as a member of the ensemble in the 25th Anniversary concert performance of Les Miserables at the O2 Arena in 2010, led by Alfie Boe as Jean Valjean and also starring Norm Lewis, Matt Lucas, Lea Salonga, Samantha Barks, Ramin Karimloo and Katie Hall, alongside many other past and present Les Mis cast members. He returned to the West End after that, landing another ‘dream job’ with Andrew Lloyd Webber’s sequel to The Phantom of the Opera, Love Never Dies. He joined the company at the Adelphi Theatre following the March 2011 cast change, performing in the ensemble and covering the principal role of Raoul. He remained with the show until its final performance on 27th August 2011, then moved across town to the Apollo Victoria after being cast in the smash hit musical, Wicked. He played the ensemble role of Elphaba’s Father and also covered and played Dr Dillamond/The Wizard on numerous occasions.
Since then, he has starred as The Phantom in the UK première of Maury Yeston’s Phantom at Ye Olde Rose & Crowne Theatre, and also played the lead role of Doc in the UK première of Pipe Dreams at the Union Theatre, which earned him a Best Actor nomination in the Broadwayworld.com Awards. He also played the title role in Aladdin at the King’s Theatre, Glasgow between 6th December 2013 and 12th January 2014, and Detective Hillary Crawford in the première of Before The Night Is Through at the Landor Theatre.
Brown has additionally spent a significant portion of his career outside of the UK. For many years, he has split his time between the UK and Vienna, working extensively with the Vienna Theatre Project and International Theatre in the country he describes as a ‘second home’. He has accrued a long list of international stage credits during his time there, which began with playing Bob Cratchett/Topper in A Christmas Carol and has since extended to include Robert in Don’t Dress For Dinner, Bob in Beyond Therapy, Algernon Moncrieff in The Importance of Being Earnest, Greg in Relatively Speaking, Actor in The Woman in Black, Jon in Tick, Tick…BOOM!, and Ensemble/Cover Raoul in Love Never Dies. He has also staged a series of concerts/cabarets there, including West End Winters and West End Spring – Switched!, and added to his CV by doffing his director’s cap to direct several productions, such as La Vie Ennui, A Moment On The Lips, Over The Threshold and A Christmas Carol.
Other credits include headlining his own act on board Cunard cruise liners, Queen Mary 2 and the Queen Elizabeth, playing William Gray/Dr Gilbert in the workshop of The Return of the Soldier (Landor Theatre), and Assistant Director for Chess at the Union Theatre. He is also a regular on the London concert/cabaret scene, having been a guest vocalist at such events as Kinky Kabaret, Gigging For It, With A Song In My Heart, Stars for Burma, A Night of Anderson and Petty, MADTrust’s A West End Christmas and The Music of the Night – The Songs of Andrew Lloyd Webber. He recorded the song, ‘If They Only Knew’, for the début album of singer/songwriter Chris Passey (Self Taught, Still Learning), and hosted his début solo cabaret, My Big Fat Musical Cabaret, at the Pheasantry in October 2011, which proved such a success that he staged a follow-up (updated) performance the following year. He recently performed with Katie Paine, Matthew Croke and Michelle Pentecost as a guest artist for Sunday In The Arts at the Arts Theatre, and also hosted a solo cabaret at Lauderdale House for the 2015 Spring Season of Cabaret In The House, titled Once Upon A Song – A Magical Musical Cabaret. He is planning a full-length version of the show later this year. Upcoming projects include featuring as a recording artist for lyricist Lesley Ross’ album, Love Lies & Lyrics, released by SimG Records, and performing as part of the musical theatre line-up at the StandUP Comedy Gala at the Greenwood Theatre on 15th April 2015, in aid of the Ben Cohen StandUp Foundation. He is also the organising force behind The Great Phantom Charity Cross Channel Cycle, which will see four Phantom cast members cycle overnight from Her Majesty’s Theatre to the steps of the Paris Opera House to raise funds for MacMillan Cancer Care, in memory of late Les Miserables wig mistress Melanie Oakley-Dow.
Kieran Brown is currently appearing in The Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty’s Theatre. He joined the company of the classic West End musical on 1st September 2014, and as a Swing, has played such male roles as Joseph Bouquet and Don Atillo during his time there. Most notably, he also covers the lead role of The Phantom and has played the iconic character on a number of occasions now, to great acclaim.
I’ve seen him perform on stage in Love Never Dies, Wicked and many of the cabaret/concert events he’s been involved in, including his own cabaret, and have never failed to be blown away by the outstanding vocal abilities of this talented individual and his passion for the craft. He has carved out a pretty successful career since graduating from RSAMD, and I have no doubt that many more good things await him in the future.
You can follow Kieran on Twitter: @Kierbro
By Julie Robinson: @missjulie25
Saturday 14th March 2015