Q&A with Devri Brock

Devri Brock, senior theatre major, plays the role of Janet Van de Graaf in the upcoming Southern Theatre production of The Drowsy Chaperone. Having roots in music, Brock became involved with the theater after auditioning for a production of Fiddler on the Roof.

When did you first take interest in theater?

I was in choir and ballet and things in high school, then I came over to Missouri Southern as a vocal major, and they held auditions for Fiddler on the Roof, and I came and I did that because I was a singer and realized they were having more fun over here, and I just stayed in the theater department, and started taking acting classes instead of the vocal route. I kept the music minor, but I decided I loved acting even if there wasn’t music in the show. It just kind of sucked me in.  

How long have you been acting and what are some of the performances you have been in?

2008, maybe. I think one of my first musicals I was ever in was in the 8th grade, I think, but I don’t know if I’d count that. Then my senior year in high school I did Guys and Dolls in Pittsburg, and then we did Fiddler on the Roof here as Hodel, I’ve done various children’s shows here. I think I’ve been in four children’s shows here and just a pretty broad range of fun characters.  We did Humpty Dumpty, and I played Nicole. We did God of Carnage and I was Veronica. The last musical we did was Chicago and I played Hart, and then a few things with Joplin Little Theatre. That’s about it.

What is your favorite role that you have played, and why?

Last summer, we started the Missouri Shakespeare Festival here and hosted it at Missouri Southern, and the first show we’ve done is Macbeth, and I got the opportunity to play Lady Macbeth, and that was amazing.  The character I’d never dreamed I’d be able to play and she’s just a piece of work, so I loved her a lot. 

What is it like to play the role of Janet Van de Graaf in the upcoming production of The Drowsy Chaperone?

It’s a whole lot of fun … she’s such a fun character because she is so over the top.  They say she has grease paint in her veins, she just loves the stage, loves being the center of attention, so finding ways to milk that and to make her a comic and not just annoying and dramatic, it’s a challenge, and I’m enjoying that. She’s just a lot of fun.

What first inspired you to audition for The Drowsy Chaperone?

Because we were doing it, so I thought yes, we don’t get musicals very often. I started out as a singer so I jump on the opportunity every time I have it, to act and sing at the same time.

Do you ever feel nervous when you go into an audition?

Yes, auditions are terrible. Usually, the ones here aren’t so bad. Our auditions are nice, but I know everyone there, but, in general, an audition is very scary. They’re not there to enjoy your performance, they’re there to analyze it, so it’s a different feeling.

Have you ever had a bad audition in the past?

Yeah, I’ve had auditions that I thought went well, but didn’t work out. I’ve had auditions where I forget what I’m doing, get nervous and I am not myself. Yeah, nerves get you.

What kind of roles do you most like to portray on stage?

I like the ones that allow me to really cut loose. I’ve gotten the opportunity to play some really bad people. I’m not judging them, but yeah, they’re bad. Characters that would say and do things that I never would in real life. It’s kind of fun to do that and to branch out and blow off some steam. So, yeah, I think the more out there they are, the more fun I have.

What role would you most like to play?

I kind of want to be Shrek, in Shrek. He has the best numbers. And he’s covered up the whole time. He doesn’t have to worry about hair not looking right, you know; he’s in a big green suit. I think he’s really fun. He’s a deeper character than you’d think when you look at him. I would do that.

Who are some of your favorite actors/actresses, on stage or in film?

I like Sutton Foster a lot. She played the role of Janet Van de Graff on Broadway. I got to see her in Shrek as Fiona, so I kind of latched onto her, and her voice. I just really enjoy her as musicals go. I really like Cate Blanchet as far as other acting goes. I think she’s very good and has a very great outlook on what theater should be, and what an actor should be, so I enjoy her a lot.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

It depends on every different show for me, and it depends on the director too, the way they decide to go about the production. There’s always a super objective, a theme, a message that the director is trying to get across; the direction they’ve decided to guide the show in, and usually that provides a lot of insight into what that character is supposed to be and the role they play in that show. So, for example, The Drowsy Chaperone you’ve got that 1920s Vaudeville thing, and we’ve got her objective as the star who wants to be seen, and all these things, so combine that together and it really guides the way we do things.

What do you like to do in your down time?

Sleep and shower. If I ever have evenings free, I always try to take dance classes outside of school, cause we don’t have a lot of that here.  I like to crochet, and shop for antiques, ‘cause I’m an 80 year old woman, and I’m also involved in my church, sing in a praise band with them.  I’m a jazz singer for the orchestra combos here, so I like to do that as a hobby.  Yeah … sleep, shower, laundry, that kind of thing.