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Rowe student a soloist in SD Gay Men’s Chorus ‘Broadway Now’

R. Roger Rowe student Sofie Brown with RC Haus, Rowe music program director and artistic director of the San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus, and her voice coach, Steven Grey Romande, a Rancho Santa Fe resident.
(Karen Billing)

R. Roger Rowe School sixth grade singer Sofie Brown will take center stage with San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus’ “Broadway Now” on Saturday, April 22 and Sunday, April 23 at the Balboa Theatre. The show will feature the best of Broadway with music from “Hamilton,” “Wicked,” “The Book of Mormon,” “Mary Poppins,” “Lion King” and more. Sofie will be the youngest-ever performer in the 32-year history of the chorus and will perform a world premier chorus arrangement of “Ring of Keys” from the Tony-winning show “Fun Home, ” a show about a young girl coming of age, discovering her identity and trying to connect with her father.

Sofie was picked to be a part of the fun, family-friendly “Broadway Now” by RC Haus, the artistic director of the San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus and music program director at Rowe.

Haus was Sofie’s first voice coach when she began singing in the first grade.

“From day one I saw a talent and a love to perform that was rather precocious for her age,” Haus said. “She’s just a natural performer.”

Haus came to R. Roger Rowe in 2011 and became the director of the Gay Men’s Chorus in 2014 and has overseen tremendous growth in both programs. The Gay Men’s Chorus now has over 200 families represented in the group, up from 82 members before he took the helm. Similarly, when he came to Rowe there were just eight singers in choir and 12 in the band. Now the music program is bursting at the seams with almost 200 students participating in choir ensembles, band and orchestra.

At Rowe, Sofie has received a lot of opportunities to explore her love for singing and dancing.

She has performed in several school plays, such as Cinderella in “Cinderella,” Young Fiona in “Shrek,” Annie in “Annie” and, most recently, the Baker’s Wife in “Into the Woods.”

She has also appeared in “Cats” at the Lyceum Theatre and the Moxie Theatre’s “Ruthless,” and studies under voice coach Steven Grey Romande, a Rancho Santa Fe resident and Rowe parent. Romande, who has performed all over the country, runs his own production studio in Rancho Santa Fe.

“She’s a triple threat,” Romande said of Sofie’s singing, acting and dancing talents.

To find the young soloist for “Broadway Now,” Haus needed someone who wouldn’t be intimidated performing with the backing of a chorus 160-strong behind her. He said with kids, they can be talented but can sometimes freeze up when faced with a big audience or a big show environment. Haus also needed someone who could perform despite not having a lot of rehearsal time, just a few run-throughs before the show.

“I said to myself, ‘Sophie can do that’,” Haus said.

At the first rehearsal last week, Haus said Sofie showed up and couldn’t have been more confident and professional, putting her chin up and just starting singing away.

“She nailed it,” Romande said. “I’m so proud of her.”

The San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus has sold out their last two Balboa Theatre shows — grab tickets online at sdgmc.org.


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