Actress from afar takes centre stage

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The lead actress in Gore Musical Theatre’s theatre restaurant production Avenue Q comes from across the globe.
Leading lady Fran Brabant was born in Southampton in the United Kingdom but is more recently from Florida in the United States.
Brabant said she jumped at the opportunity to be in the play, which she had seen previously in New York.
‘‘I saw the play in New York and fell in love with it but I never thought I would have the opportunity to be in the play,’’ she said.
The 26-year-old said she grew up in and around theatre first playing Mary in The Nativity Story when she was just 4.
She had also played other iconic roles such as Peter Pan and more recently Rizzo in Grease and June in Chicago.
She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in performing arts from Eckerd College in Florida and attended a performing arts high school.
Brabant’s first full cast rehearsal for Avenue Q was on Tuesday night but it was a lucky break she was in the right place at the right time for the role.
She came to New Zealand in January to see the country her grandfather had lived in.
She spent time in the Coromandel during the summer working and had travelled New Zealand before ending up in Hedghope as an au pair.
‘‘I saw that they [Gore Musical Theatre] were having auditions literally in the last few hours. I called Jade [McDowall] in the last hours of auditions and jumped at the chance to be in it,’’ she said.
‘‘I felt like I was not prepared at all — it was completely overwhelming. I went for the main role but I would have accepted any role in the play.’’
Brabant will play the role of Kate Monster, a kindergarten teacher puppet in the play, in which only three characters are not puppets.
She was excited about the opportunity to work with puppets although said it would be challenging.
‘‘It is hard enough to sing, dance, talk and walk let alone use a puppet.’’
The play is all about daily struggles, including relationships and work.
‘‘She is looking for love and ends up falling for the new guy on the block, Princeton (played by Tyler Downing), and they have their ups and downs.’’
Brabant’s parents are travelling from the United States to see the play.
She said her mother would be at every show to support and volunteer.
‘‘Being on stage is the most amazing feeling. It is where my passion is and I can’t wait to work with everyone in the cast.’’
Avenue Q premieres on November 10 and runs until November 19.