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