Ghost the Musical: Wendy Mae Brown up to the task of the role

Ghost the Musical: Wendy Mae Brown up to the task of the role
Ghost the Musical: Wendy Mae Brown up to the task of the role
Ghost the Musical: Wendy Mae Brown up to the task of the role
Ghost the Musical: Wendy Mae Brown up to the task of the role
Ghost the Musical: Wendy Mae Brown up to the task of the role
Ghost the Musical: Wendy Mae Brown up to the task of the role
Ghost the Musical: Wendy Mae Brown up to the task of the role
Ghost the Musical: Wendy Mae Brown up to the task of the role
Ghost the Musical: Wendy Mae Brown up to the task of the role
Ghost the Musical: Wendy Mae Brown up to the task of the role
Ghost the Musical: Wendy Mae Brown up to the task of the role
Ghost the Musical: Wendy Mae Brown up to the task of the role
Ghost the Musical: Wendy Mae Brown up to the task of the role
Ghost the Musical: Wendy Mae Brown up to the task of the role
Ghost the Musical: Wendy Mae Brown up to the task of the role
Ghost the Musical: Wendy Mae Brown up to the task of the role
Ghost the Musical: Wendy Mae Brown up to the task of the role
Ghost the Musical: Wendy Mae Brown up to the task of the role
Ghost the Musical: Wendy Mae Brown up to the task of the role
Ghost the Musical: Wendy Mae Brown up to the task of the role

MUSIC theatre performer Wendy Mae Brown grew up in London never thinking about the common Jamaican double-barrelled name her parents gave her.

It never became a conversation starter until she joined the UK touring cast of Ghost the Musical in 2013.

“Yes, my name is really Wendy Mae Brown and I’m playing Oda Mae Brown,” Brown said.

“Sometimes people even ask me if I made up my name after I got the part. Who would do that?”

Brown is the daughter of session trumpet player Dave Augustus Brown, who played with Bob Marley, Miles Davis and Louis Armstrong, and found her career calling when her parents sent her to Saturday dance classes at Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts to curb her hyperactive nature.

She soon started attending full time and “never stopped to think I wanted to do musical theatre, it just happened”.

Brown first watched the 1990 film Ghost on a whim following a terrible audition for English director Sir Trevor Nunn.

“I was walking home in tears when I looked up and Ghost was on, and I didn’t want to go home so I went in to watch it,” she said.

“I was so devastated at having humiliated myself in front of Sir Trevor Nunn and I just remember thinking how amazing the film was and how it made me forget everything for a little while.

“And no word of a lie, I remember thinking then how it would make a good musical, and then I forgot all about it.

“I was actually working for Trevor Nunn, so he must have got over my horrible audition, when I got the call to do Ghost the Musical.”

The Australian production is Brown’s third time in the role made famous by Whoopi Goldberg in the film, after tours in the UK and China.

The vivacious performer said she thought she was done with Oda Mae at the end of 21 weeks in China but soon realised she was wrong.

“The thought of coming to Australia with a brand new cast; I couldn’t resist wheeling her out one more time,” she said.

“It’s the role of roles where I get to sing, dance, act and do comedy, although it is exhausting because it’s a mental role; you have to go on quite a journey with Rob (Mills as Sam Wheat).

“You can’t just sit there making people laugh; it’s quite a lot that goes on to make Oda Mae work.”

Brown said it never crossed her mind to feel any trepidation towards the character, although she understood Goldberg’s large fan following.

“People do love her and do say to me that they’re coming to see Ghost and Whoopi is their favourite character,” she said.

“It’s like they’re warning me to make sure I don’t mess it up, but thankfully they’re never disappointed.”

Ghost the Musical is showing at Crown Theatre Perth until June 12.

Tanya MacNaughton