Montana Brown just can’t make up her mind. The Madison senior, who will be playing Maria in Madison’s production of “West Side Story,” sings, dances and acts, and she can’t decided which she likes the best. “I think that’s why I like musical theater the best, because I’m really into the singing, acting and dancing,” said Montana, 17.
Montana said she has always been enthusiastic about entertaining. “I’ve always been really outgoing. I’ve just always been dramatic,” she said. “I was always ready to do a little talent show. … It’s definitely my entire life.”
Her love of performing led her to start singing in the youth choir at Vienna Presbyterian Church a few years ago. ‘She’s grown phenomenally,” said Kerry Wilkerson, assistant director of the music ministry at the church. “Exponential growth is the way I’d characterize it.”
HER FRESHMAN YEAR at Madison, Montana started out in a choral role in one of the productions and has been steadily getting more substantial parts. Last year she played, Pop, one of the cell block girls in “Chicago.”
Montana works hard at being a performer, Wilkerson said. She takes voice and dance lessons, in addition to her rehearsals for shows she is in. “The real skill is the drive and the talent that Montana’s got,” Wilkerson said.
She also recently played Hedy La Rue in a community theatre production of “How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying.” “She was really fun,” Montana said of her character.
The character, Montana said, is more “over the top” and gave her a chance to really exaggerate the character. ‘It was, play it up, and have fun with it,” Montana said.
Maria will be a completely different challenge. The character of Maria is based on Juliet, of "Romeo and Juliet," and includes an emotional breakdown at the end. “It’s a very real character,” Montana said. “Maria has so many emotional scenes.”
Montana was an easy choice for the role, said Marshall Henderson, drama teacher at Madison. “She’s a triple threat. She can sing she can dance and she can act. With Maria, you need someone who can do all three,” he said.
“She’s one that I never hesitate to put out front because she’s got that skill,” Wilkerson said.
MONTANA IS TRYING to develop the ability to cry on command, something which will be necessary when playing a character whose boyfriend and cousin die within a few minutes of each other. She is hoping to draw on past experiences. “I actually have been going through my old diaries,” Montana said.
Montana plans to continue working toward a career on Broadway and has been applying to musical theater programs at colleges. Her parents, she said have been somewhat skeptical of her choice of major. “I pointed out to them that neither one of them used their undergraduate degree,” Montana said.
She is currently leaning toward Catholic University where she has been accepted as a student, but has not yet heard about her status in the theater program.
The people who know her have little doubt about her chances. “I have no doubt in my mind, that if she sets her mind to it, she will,” Wilkerson said. “I truly believe I will be going to see her on Broadway.”