Brandi Burkhardt is Producing, Running 10Ks, Writing and Crushin' It!

Crushing It! 

By Kimberly Dijkstra

With her sing-songy voice and cheerful smile, Brandi Burkhardt has captured the hearts of many. The former Miss New York originated the role of Lucie in “A Tale of Two Cities” on Broadway, as well as starred as Sophie in “Mamma Mia,” but she is perhaps best known for her role as Siren, a singing mermaid, on the NBC soap “Passions” and the bubbly Crickett on CW’s “Hart of Dixie.”

Burkhardt has traveled the world singing with big orchestras in Greece, Istanbul, South Korea, and Vienna, and has led casts in regional theater productions of beloved musicals like “The Secret Garden,” “Mary Poppins,” and “The Sound of Music.” Her lovely voice can also be heard on several cast recordings.

“A wonderful thing about being a creative person is you never know what’s coming next,” Burkhardt said.

In a career that has taken her in a number of directions, the singer-actress is enjoying the ride.

“You learn that it’s the same process everywhere,” Burkhardt explained, whether you’re 7 and putting on a show with your neighbors, doing the play in high school, or performing on a professional stage. “You have a concept, you have material, and you get up there and play, and hopefully communicate a great experience for somebody to relate to.”

Burkhardt is recognized a lot from “Hart of Dixie,” particularly by her voice, despite not speaking with that Southern belle accent in real life. Lots of viewers revisited the feel-good dramedy while it was on Netflix in 2020.

“That was one of the good things about the pandemic – you got to binge watch a lot of TV that you wouldn’t have seen otherwise,” she said.

The COVID-19 pandemic threw everyone off course to some extent, particularly those in the theater community.

“It’s been such a strange, topsy-turvy kind of time,” she remarked.

Burkhardt says when you’re presented with chaos, you stop to ask yourself ‘what do I do?’ So she took stock of where her value was best placed and started teaching for the first time virtually.

“When one avenue closes, you try to find other things to do,” Burkhardt said, and for her, that new avenue was teaching private voice and acting classes.

Burkhardt has several friends from high school show choir and jazz ensemble who grew up to be teachers in their home state of Maryland. They brought her in to teach acting classes, as well as All-County and All-State music courses.

She was also invited to record demos for new musicals.

“There’s a lot of work that’s coming out of this time by people who have never written a musical before,” she explained. “People have gotten an opportunity to create something new or spend their time in a new way. That’s been exciting.”

Beyond music and theater projects, Burkhardt used the time afforded by the pandemic to prioritize health and exercise. She says she used to hate running, but started running last year and found herself running a few 5Ks and a 10K, with longer runs in sight. She’s also volunteered and expanded her sewing skills.

“I’ve always loved sewing and I’ve learned to sew some things that I would actually maybe wear,” she said. “It’s been fun to discover new things about myself, and learn new skills, and really have the time to do that.”

In other exciting news, Burkhart has started producing a feature film and is still early in the process.

“I’ve always wanted to do that, but you know when you are working as an actor, going from job to job, looking for work, and staying available for that, sometimes I would not make the time to keep my own projects going,” she explained.

As the pandemic begins to wind down and restrictions are lifted, everyone is able to look ahead and start planning what’s next.

“I’m actually glad it’s going slowly,” she said. “I don’t want to be overwhelmed with all of the rush to re-engage because I really want to carry with me the things that I’ve learned this year and not leave these lessons behind.”

Burkhardt has learned not to give into fear and anxiety and how to be her authentic self.

“I made a promise to myself that I wasn’t going to be afraid at some point during this last year,” she said. “That means not being afraid to be myself, to be vulnerable, to show up and not know what’s going to happen.”

She added, “I guess that’s what I’m looking forward to the most. It will be really great to be able to sing and act with people and relate to people again, that’s for sure, but to do it in this new way with this new information as well.”

Keep an eye out for Burkhardt’s feature film, new musical demo, and forthcoming solo record.

 

 

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