“I’m a stay-at-home mom,” Keitha Brown said. “It sounds old-school, but I spend my time during the day schooling my three boys. It keeps me very busy.”
Keitha and her husband Aaron’s responsibilities as parents to Orion, 13; Noah, 11; and Lennon, 6, have limited their involvement in theater, a passion the couple shares. They moved to Los Angeles to pursue acting careers.
Nonetheless, Keitha has built a resume of impressive roles over the years, including fame-obsessed showgirl Roxie Hart in “Chicago,” tragic Fontine in “Les Miserables,” country-western vocal legend Patsy Cline in “Forever, Patsy Cline,” and hedonistic showgirl Sally Bowles in “Cabaret.”
“I always had a passion for dance. It was my escape,” said Keitha, who studied at Theater Dance Centre in her hometown of Canal Fulton. When the center’s owner, Richard Moore, began staging Broadway musicals at Theatre 8:15 in Green, she followed him there. “I think that grew my love for singing and dancing. I don’t think I ever would’ve thought to do that on my own.”
Recently, she and Aaron starred together in the Players Guild production of “Chicago,” as Roxie and slick lawyer Billy Flynn. “I love sharing the stage with him. It’s like old times before we had kids,” Keitha said. “We don’t do that too often now. We were totally not going to do ‘Chicago’ together because of all the time away from home. But the boys were like, ‘Just do it.’ They understand.”
In December, the couple once again portrayed George and Mary Bailey in a production of “It’s a Wonderful Life,” done in the style of a 1940s radio play. And Keitha continues to star in “Forever, Patsy Cline” for Stardust Dinner Theatre on occasion. “People keep asking for it,” she said.
On February 15, Keitha will open in the Players Guild production of the musical “Next to Normal,” playing the leading role of Diana, a wife and mother who is bipolar.
As director of neighborhood investment for Habitat For Humanity East Central Ohio, Aaron Brown plays a pivotal role in connecting families in need with new homes.
“It is incredibly rewarding from a family aspect to see them go through this whole process of transformation,” said Aaron, who’s been with Habitat five years. “They come in as one person and leave a different person. They learn to not think the way they’re used to thinking. They build a new house with volunteers, they learn how to use tools, and at the end, there’s a dedication and they get the keys to their new house. It’s a different future for them.”
Much of Aaron’s job involves neighborhood revitalization, community engagement, the groundwork of planning the home and acquiring land.
“When I started (with Habitat), what I didn’t fathom was the enormity of what it was going to do toward ending poverty.”
Aaron sees parallels between himself and George Bailey, the character he repeatedly has portrayed as an actor in “It’s a Wonderful Life.” “I’m kind of a real-life George Bailey. He helps people with housing. It’s taken on a little bit of a personal thing for me,” he said.
In 2016, Brown portrayed Robert F. Kennedy in the one-man drama “R.F.K.,” at the Players Guild. “It was about 58 pages of dialogue and a two-hour show and just me out there,” he said.
His performance as the Mute in a 1998 Players Guild production of the musical “The Fantasticks” carries a special resonance for him. “My dad was sick and dying at the time and he always loved that show,” Aaron said. “The innocence of that show and what it meant personally was really good.”
1. How did you meet?
Keitha: “We met at a Saturday morning jazz class in Canal Fulton. Aaron walked into this class with many, many girls, and he was the only guy there. I just had a huge crush on him the first time I saw him.”
Aaron: “I had just started in theater and wanted to learn more. It was January of ’95. I walked into the studio and there were 16 girls. Keitha was one of them. It was 23 years ago, and pretty much the rest is history.”
2. When did you know he/she was the one?
Keitha: “I told my mom I was going to marry Aaron after we went on one date. When you have things in common, you just ‘get’ each other. He made it very easy.”
Aaron: “I thought out of all the girls (in the dance studio), this is the one that would never go out with me. This girl is too beautiful. She was out of my league. The first time we went out, there was something about her that was a little bit mesmerizing. I never looked back.”
3. What’s your favorite thing to do together?
Keitha: “To keep that spark alive, we still date each other. Yes, we love our kids, but it’s so important to get away, just the two of us, and have a night together. It doesn’t really matter what we do. Just quality time.”
Aaron: “Anything really. She is without question my best friend. When we hang out, everything is right with the world. We were together so long before we had kids that we really know each other.”
4. What do you admire most about your partner?
Keitha: “His honesty. If you ever want a completely honest answer, Aaron Brown will give it to you. He’s very deep. He’s intuitive. He can pick up on the littlest thing if something is bothering you. He’s not a typical guy. He’ll want to talk about it.”
Aaron: “I admire her protection of her family; it’s a really great thing. She home-schools our boys, and to take that responsibility on is really admirable. She’s not a Band-Aid person. If there’s an issue with something, she wants to get to the root of it and why it can never happen again.”