By day, Paula Brannon works as an accountant clerk for Sag Harbor Village, but for the past decade she has also been the musical theater director for Pierson Middle-High School. She discusses some of the work that she has done in this capacity, and an upcoming fundraiser for Pierson’s Performing Arts Scholarship.
By Mara Certic
How long have you been interested in Musical Theater?
Oh wow, well, I was in my first show when I was 6 and I majored in theater in college, so that was my plan. But you know, you just go on and you do end up making different choices and I ended up not completing that theater degree and getting married, and having children. But I guess it just stays in your blood. It’s just right there all the time. And I think ultimately I’m right where I’m supposed to be, this is what I was supposed to do with it: assisting others in their dreams.
Why did you decide to put on “Broadway in Concert” in July?
We thought we would try a fundraiser in summer because normally we have an audience of our parents and our local fan base, and so we thought we would try and spread it a little bit and show our summer audience what it is that their local high school does. It’s summertime, so Bay Street’s pretty busy now; the show will take place in the Pierson Auditorium.
What does the show entail?
I have about 25 performers—they’re alumni, faculty and staff; and I’ve chosen a few current students who are still at Pierson. The alumni date back to the graduating class of 1975, and represent each decade since. Two of the recent graduates performing are currently enrolled at NYU’s Tisch [School of the Arts], we have one that just completed her first year at Berklee, another that’s studying musical theater at James Madison and one that just got a degree in technical theater. So they’re going to come back and pay it back. We have everything from all different musicals. We’ve let them all choose their own songs that they want to sing, and I’ve just kind of compiled them. In some cases I have two songs from one musical and three from another. There are two dances that they’re all doing together. One of the alumni is part of a barbershop quartet, which will be performing. I will emcee and put it altogether and we have a slideshow of each performer behind them from shows that they have been in. The finale is a song from “Rent” that all the singers will perform together. The show lasts about an hour and half, tops.
What aspects of this show should people be getting excited about?
It’s really fun to sit there and watch the people I have worked with before and are now adults, or the people that I have worked with before in some capacity. I had a choreographer who worked in the middle school who’s coming back. Our administrator, Gary Kalish, will be performing with his daughter. We’re expecting a lot of Pierson students on Thursday; they love seeing their choreographers and any of the staff-members perform.
What will the proceeds from this show benefit?
The Pierson High School Performing Arts Scholarship. Every cent of these ticket sales goes to three different scholarships; one for $300, one for $500 and one for $1,000. Only the recipient of the $1,000 scholarship must go on to have continuing participation in the performing arts. The other two have participated with us and we’re thanking them. We have one student this year who we thought from day one would go into theater. He decided that teaching was his calling, but we still wanted to reward that in some way. There are a lot of scholarships out there, but theater scholarships can be really hard to come by.
Broadway in Concert: A Musical Revue will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 31, at the Pierson Auditorium, 200 Jermain Avenue. The box office opens 30 minutes prior to the show. The suggested admission donation is $20 for adults and $10 for students and senior citizens. For more information call 899-3111.