Behind the Scenes with Kelsey Milbourn
Kelsey Milbourn sees herself as a storyteller rather than a star, despite her decision to pursue acting as a career. “I’d rather be seen as a vessel to tell everyone’s story,” she explains. She has a unique opportunity to do just that when she plays the role of Stage Manager in Circle Theatre’s production of Our Town from January 31 through March 9, 2019.
Our Town is a Pulitzer Prize winning play by Thornton Wilder that reminds people of all generations to pay attention to the everyday moments in life: both big and small. Debuting in 1938, the message remains timeless.
Kelsey made her stage debut at age five having grown up in the theatre where her mom directed. Kelsey’s mom influenced her life in a myriad of ways. Perhaps the most influential moment occurred when they played mother and daughter on stage. In one incredibly emotional and vulnerable scene, Kelsey saw her mother break down in front of a theater full of people. As young Kelsey heard theater-goers thank her mother for the performance, Kelsey realized that’s what she wanted to do with her life: move people.
“Acting is a way for me to move people without knowing who they are. It’s a very humanizing, beautiful, vulnerable thing to do.”
Kelsey and her three siblings followed their mother’s footsteps and attended Texas Christian University. There Kelsey earned a BFA in musical theater with a modern dance independent study. Originally hailing from Overland Park, Kansas, she quickly warmed to the assertive friendliness of Texans.
Living one year in New York after graduation and seeing one phenomenal Fort Worth production were all it took to convince her that Fort Worth is where she wants to be. “I wanted to go where storytelling was the priority. I didn’t want to be a chorus person in the background; I want to tell my unique stories through another person’s written perspective,” she tells.
The role of Stage Manager is usually played by an older white man (like Thornton Wilder himself), but Circle Theatre’s call said “male or female”.
“I jumped on it,” Kelsey recounts, “Because that meant the director (Matthew Gray) would let whoever was best tell the story. The fact that Matthew trusted a female voice to tell an older story that’s still very poignant today appealed to me. The role is genderless. The words said by this human are so profound, it’s beyond the person saying it.”
Circle Theatre, located in Sundance Square, usually showcases contemporary performances, but they’re making an exception for Our Town. When you descend the steps into the underground theatre, you enter another world. It’s a calm oasis in a bustling downtown. Described as intimate and nostalgic, Circle seats 125. The Our Town cast is the largest Circle Theatre has seen in at least 20 years. Kelsey promises the production will feel like you’re peeking in on the daily life of the characters. She extends an invitation: “Come see the show and learn some things about your soul.”
Our Town runs January 31 through March 9. It’s a family-friendly production with kids in the cast. On March 1 Circle Theatre is partnering with TCC Trinity River Campus to present their first ever ASL interpreting performance. For ticket information, visit their website here.
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