Kalista Brown Takes the Stage


Voices and laughs intermingle in the excitement-filled choir room. It’s the first day of rehearsals for The Wizard of Oz, and cast and crew alike line the risers. Lorelei Frazee is leading the crowd at the moment, instructing them to pick up their name-tagged manilla folders at the front of the room, but it’s like trying to herd a pack of cats. Giddy friends from Eurydice, the fall play, and newcomers for this year welcome each other with open arms. A thrum of eagerness lines the room. In the mix of it all is freshman Kalista Brown brimming with anticipation. As Dorothy, her role is imperative to The Wizard of Oz, and she’s been preparing for this for a long time.

In the past, she has been in all six of her middle school plays and has had small roles outside of school in, The Jungle Book, 13 the Musical, Shrek the Musical, and many more. Theatre is a fundamental part of Brown’s life, especially so because of the atmosphere and friends.

“That’s one of the best things about theatre, is the people there,” she said. “You don’t just get that kind of group.”

Though the experiences of the past have not fully prepared Brown for this- her first lead role. Just finding out she made the cut was a roller coaster ride of emotions in itself.

“I was downstairs, and I saw I made it and just started crying,” she said. “I ran upstairs and my mom sees me and says ‘You didn’t make it!’ and I was like ‘No, I did!’ I was so happy.”

But among the plays and musicals, Brown is also involved in Freshman Committee, Cheer, and Gymnastics.

She demonstrates great admiration for these, saying that, “I like Cheer because it’s a different kind of sport. It’s motivational and less competitive in more of the sense that everybody’s a giant family and we work hard together. I like that [Freshman Committee is] an extracurricular club and the point of it is helping other people. I like to give back.”

For gymnastics, Brown proudly states that, “at the beginning of the season, I could barely do anything, but by the end of the season, I was competing all around… and I may have not have been the best at all four events, but I tried my best, and it’s about doing something new and supporting myself.”

But even though all these clubs and groups are important to her, it all circles back to music. From the very beginning, music has been a pillar of who Brown is. From her first ever CD, a Deluxe Edition Fearless by Taylor Swift which she still has, to a Mamma Mia track that her parents allowed her to play in the car non-stop when she was five, music has always been Brown’s favorite.

As she put it, “I sing in the hallways, I sing in the shower, I sing at home, my parents try to tell me to stop singing, and I don’t.”

Since music is so important to her, so are her musicals. Her love for the arts pushes her to succeed, and even lands her the lead in her freshman year.

On days where it seems tough, or like things are just going terrible, Brown has one philosophy: “You just gotta keep going. Maybe that’s not your favorite scene, or your favorite song, or you’re really struggling with that part, but just think of everything else because there’s got to be one song you really like, or one dance that you’re really good at.”

Rehearsals haven’t gotten into the full swing yet, but she has already been preparing for a role like his for years–and with a smile on her face too. Resiliency is important in the life of a thespian, and Brown has embodied it perfectly, thanks to a devotion to the performance arts.

“It’s really awesome because I just love to dance and sing, and I love to perform and act, and I love to step outside my comfort zone and be something else… I’ve been doing this my entire life, and it’s really just what I like.”

The Wizard of Oz is set to show Jan. 24-26, and the theatre geeks of Olathe West are already hard at work, whether it be Chylar Percival, head of Hair/Makeup Crew, figuring out the makeup for the Cowardly Lion, or Brennan Frye, the Tinman, learning his tap dance for ‘If I Only Had A Heart’. Brown, feet hurting in the infamous red heels, will practice her moves along with him and everyone else, and no doubt plan to give the stellar performance she always does through kindness, perseverance, and the amazing ability to be audaciously determined.