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After following sisters onto the stage, actor Brandon Bieber comes home for Fringe play

When Brandon Bieber was a toddler, his parents took him to his older sisters’ dance recitals.

Soon, he was riveted to the sight of their sequins and sashays. When a call went out for children to be part of a Westport Playhouse production of “The Phantom of the Opera,” his sister tried out.

“They said, ‘We like her — and we’ll take the boy, too,’” Bieber said.

For more than a decade, Bieber has worked as a Broadway and touring dancer and actor. He’s back in St. Louis to direct a St. Lou Fringe Festival play about a stock-car racer challenging traditional female stereotypes, called “Race Cars and Romance.”

The production is a musical comedy set in Alabama that resonates with Bieber’s Midwestern roots.

“Even though I'm a New Yorker now, I know St. Louis audiences,” Bieber said. “I grew up with them I know their sensibility and a sense of humor.”

Bieber grew up in Ballwin and graduated from St. Louis University High School in 2003. He got his start as a Muny Kid before attending The Cincinnati Conservatory of Music.

St. Louis Public Radio  talked with Bieber about the Fringe play and his career.

Nancy Fowler: What made you want to come back to St. Louis and do this work with The Fringe?

Brandon Bieber: My two sisters went to Nerinx Hall. They are a very forward-thinking women; my mother is as well. And I felt the need to do them proud. I think the progressive woman is a really wonderful character. The journey that she takes throughout, I find very special and very poignant in today's world.

NF: Did you have any conversations with your sisters or your mother about how you might approach this project — and if so what were those?

BB: Yes … basically I'm like, “Well here's this line,’ I'm like, ‘I'm not sure.’”

NF: Can you tell me what that line was?

BB: The character says, “All I need is a man to hold me,” like, ‘I'm not quite sure — does this work? Would you say this?’ And my mom was like, “Yeah, yeah.”

And my sister was like, “No. No way, no, no, no … this woman would never say this.” And our writer is so lovely and such a Southern gentleman and you know he's like, “I didn't intend it to come across [like that]” and I was like, “Of course.”

And he's written something … even better, and it's going to be good. It's just great to be having those conversations in the world right now.

If you go:

Fringe Festival’s ‘Race Cars and Romance’

Where: Grandel Theatre, 3610 Grandel Square

When: Thursday-Saturday, Aug. 23-25

How much: $25

Tickets: Metrotix website

Follow Nancy on Twitter: @NancyFowlerSTL

Nancy is a veteran journalist whose career spans television, radio, print and online media. Her passions include the arts and social justice, and she particularly delights in the stories of people living and working in that intersection.

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org.