Burn Brae Origins
From the pen of Burn Brae Dinner Theatre founder John Kinnamon
There were two major influences in guiding my path toward the Burn Brae experience. Both centered around my appreciation for the music of Broadway, and the talent exuded by my fellow performers in journeying through that amazing venue. Suzanne Brock, Richard Stillwell, Charlotte Dixon and I were fortunate enough to be selected as soloists for several concerts presented by Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops. Later, it was Burn Brae’s honor to feature Suzanne as Fiona in Brigadoon, Dick as Fred Graham in Kiss Me Kate, and Charlotte as Nettie Fowler in Carousel.
My favorite Pops concert featured the music of Rogers and Hammerstein. I will never forget, as a young man, walking center stage during the dress rehearsal for one of those performances. When it was my turn to rehearse “Younger than Springtime” from South Pacific, I nervously took my place in front of this magnificent 80-piece orchestra and 60-voice choir, looked up to Arthur Fiedler at the podium. As he raised his baton, turned to me and gently asked “Are you ready, young man?” I nodded affirmatively. But in my mind I was thinking, “Am I ready? Seriously? I would pay the Boston Pops ten times what I am being paid just for the joy of this experience!”
I do not have video from those early days, but following are recorded selections from that same Boston Pops concert featuring myself and Burn Brae’s first Fiona on opening night, Suzanne Brock.
“Younger Than Springtime” from South Pacific
“Hello Young Lovers” from The King And I
“We Kiss In A Shadow” from The King and I
The second and equally important influence was my time spent with Washington, DC’s American Light Opera Company. Such an array of talent, including those wonderful performers and friends who appeared on the Burn Brae stage after ALOC closed: Bob Brenner, George Chapin, Sally Jane Heit, Bob Frankfurt, Lew Resseguie and Joy Hawkins Brenner. ALOC had no video archives, but during West Side Story, NBC’s Channel 4 filmed one of our performances for a review that same evening. I worked at NBC at the time, and was fortunate enough to have the director of that evening’s television review give me a copy of that film, which featured myself as Tony and Mary Ann Chinn as Maria, in roles we both reprised at Burn Brae.
“One Hand, One Heart”