Dr. Hill and students

Former ‘Phantom’ star Bryant to perform at Wofford

Kimilee Bryant performance 7 p.m. in Leonard Auditorium

Kimilee Bryant 382x255
Kimilee Bryant as Christine in "Phantom of the Opera"

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Kimilee Bryant, a Greenville, S.C., native best known for her portrayal of Christine in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Phantom of the Opera,” seems to have the best of both worlds – being the mother of a toddler and being able to continue to sing and perform.

Bryant, who returned home last year after 25 years in New York City, is staying busy as a mother while also teaching and performing. “My sister, Candice, and I started a new theater company last year and presented ‘Into the Woods’ in Spartanburg. In addition, I have a full teaching schedule, teaching applied voice at Anderson University and private students in Greenville.” She also gives master classes, recently doing that at the University of Nebraska, Creighton University, Theatre Arts Guild of Omaha, Converse College, Furman University and Greenville’s Fine Arts Center. “The past two summers, we have had a very successful theatre camp for ages 8 to18, and we hope to expand to older students as well.”

The former Miss South Carolina will perform “Life’s Journey Through Song” at Wofford College on Thursday, Sept. 29, in Leonard Auditorium in Main Building. The 7 p.m. performance is free and open to the public.

“It’s a little of my journey from my start in singing – ‘Over the Rainbow,’ like lots of young kids,” she says. “A bit of classical and lots of musical theatre, and yes, a whole ‘bit’ about my three ‘Phantom’ ladies. I will chat a bit in between the pieces, so the audience shouldn’t expect a ‘classical’ recital; more like a ‘classical cabaret!’”

Bryant’s “three ‘Phantom’ ladies” are the three main female characters in “Phantom of the Opera” – Christine, Carlotta and Madam Giry. She is the only actress to ever have played all three major female roles in the musical on Broadway.

Does she have a favorite? “Well, Christine, of course, has the best songs and gets that final bow – before the Phantom. It’s a great role,” she says. “Carlotta is so much fun and more vocally demanding than Christine – at least for me, Christine was fairly easy, vocally speaking. Madam Giry gets to tell the story and be quite mysterious. I found her the most difficult, despite having the least stage time.”

She misses Broadway, Bryant admits. “I miss the community, I miss the professionalism, I miss the energy and the paycheck. I don’t miss the ‘grind’ or getting through Times Square. Or the many stairs to my dressing room.”

While she also admits missing New York City, Bryant is happy to have settled back home and enjoys her opportunities to perform. In addition to the Wofford concert and another this week, she also sings in churches, shows and other events. She has a show Oct. 7 through 10 in Richmond, Va., “a new work based on ‘The Phantom of the Opera,’” she says. “Actually, a play with a few arias of the Victorian period.” She also often does voice-overs and commercials, and can even be seen in TV and films done in the Southeast.

“I also filmed a new TV show in Virginia,” she adds. “It’s called ‘Coney Island,’ and it hasn’t aired yet, but we are hopeful.”

Bryant, who graduated from the S.C. Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities and attended Converse College, was named Miss South Carolina in 1989. She competed in the Miss America pageant, where she won two talent scholarships to help with her graduate studies at the Manhattan School of Music. She received her master’s of music degree from there.

She was offered an opportunity to do “Phantom” again, this time in Germany. “I would have loved it, but we had just moved and that would have been crazy with my then-1-year-old and my shih tzu.”

She has lots of advice for up-and-coming and aspiring Broadway performers – “I could do a class, she says, but for now, her simple advice is, “Practice and study and don’t give up.”

As for, Bryant she is happy, for now, at home with her son, Aiden Everette Bryant, and teaching, performing and conducting her master classes regionally, through her company, Rubylee Production, named for her grandmother.

Wofford’s Cultural Affairs Committee is sponsoring the program.