Last week, two actors from the “Book of Mormon” taught a master class at Demonthon. Afterward, the DePaulia had the privilege of spoke with them to learn more about the production that has quickly become beloved and esteemed in Chicago and the world.
The DePaulia: Can you tell me a little bit about your roles in “The Book of Mormon”?
Melanie Brezill: I am Melanie Brazil and I am a swing in “The Book of Mormon” so that means that I understudy all of the female ensemble and I also cover the lead in the show, Nabulungi. I am an assistant dance captain, as well. So it is a lot of information, a lot of music, a lot of dance but it’s incredibly exciting.
Cory Hummerston: I am Cory Hummerston, I am also a swing. I initially started out in the show in Chicago company and I was a regular ensemble member in the show every night. About a year and a half into me doing that I transitioned into being a dance captain and also a swing so I cover all of the Mormon ensemble boys.
What is it like to be involved in a show that has become so beloved and renowned?
CH: The show has a reputation but then also Matt and Trey have a reputation, as well. So one, we want to make sure we are doing the show as best we can and we also want to make sure that we are living up to their vision and what their brand is. They are such American icons and world icons in terms of humor and everything. We want to make sure that we are living up to that expectation but we also want to make sure that we are living up to their expectation. Their writing is really what makes the show so incredible. Our job is very easy when we do the show that’s written.
MB: It’s just exciting to be in a show that is so loved by the city. To come back to Chicago and to see the audience every night go wild, it never gets old for me. Honestly, there is a moment every night when we are taking our bows and we get standing ovations, which that doesn’t always happen when you’re in a show, but in this show consistently the audience is standing to their feet.
To see that, it’s moving. I have a moment where I just say “Thank you”. I’m just so happy to be on the stage because it is just exciting. And to see people laugh. It is so fun to be in a show that makes people feel better when they come out.
Can you tell me a little bit about your involvement in Demonthon?
CH: We got reached out to through our press office if we would be available to teach at this incredible event. I hadn’t known anything about it but when I started to read more about it we came to each other and were like, “We have to do this. This sounds amazing.”
It is awesome to get to represent the show and to show that we are more than just actors on stage but it is also fun to come to something that means so much to Chicago and to the community as a whole.
MB: We were incredibly excited. I went to Northwestern University and we had a similar event, but the energy here is just amazing and we have gotten to meet some of the families. We were excited and we had no idea what to expect but when we got here the students were still incredible. I can’t believe they are still awake!
What role has acting and performance played in your lives thus far and where do you see it going from here?
MB: Performing has kept me flexible in life because this profession, you never know where it is going to take you, so I have learned how to sort of twist and bend to where life takes me.
I also understand how important the arts are to people. The more I do this as a professional, the more I realize how important it is to continue to tell stories and to continue to make people laugh and to continue to make good music and sing beautiful songs.
It is just so important because we all work so hard everyday with whatever we are dealing with but to be able to escape and offer someone that has been something that I feel like I gain from doing this performance just as much as we give out. It is a privilege to be able to do it and I don’t take it for granted.
CH: I have been performing since I was six years old. I kind of followed in my sister’s footsteps so it has been kind of a strange path. Even when I was in high school I didn’t think that I was going to be a performer. It is definitely one of those things that is kind of a calling. It was really college and everything that showed me how important the business is, but especially getting a show like this, it showed me how much a show like this can change people’s perceptions and minds.
It is pretty rare that you get to be in a show that is both entertaining and also informative to the audience. This show obviously has that kind of biting humor to it but it has a really great message in the end of it and also has so much more heart to it than just a raucous comedy. It is really cool to be a part of a show that people come out questioning the world around them.
I think that is one of the biggest things about the arts. We are allowed to question it whereas a lot of times in society we just do what we are told or what we see so that has been so incredible. Especially when we get to talk to fans. They have so many questions about the show and its relationship with everything. It’s really cool to see people questioning the world around them.
“The Book of Mormon” will be at the Bank of America Theatre through May 17.