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Ten Minutes with a Broadway Musical Director

Bryan Perri was musical director for Broadway’s hugely popular Wicked, before turning his talents to Jagged Little Pill, the new musical inspired by the Alanis Morissette album that opens in November. Perri is also resident musical supervisor of ACT, the Broadway-style theatre here in Ridgefield. Perri lives in Ridgefield and is married to Dan Levine, Broadway performer and artistic director of ACT.

What does a musical director do?
The musical director is responsible for what some call “shining a light on the music.” You are teaching the music to the people you rehearse. Ultimately you inspire the sound of the show.

How did you choose this career?
I played piano by ear from the age of three, and I was lucky that my parents recognized that something was there and gave me lessons. In high school I loved choir so much that I formed my own. We would get together in my living room and fearlessly make music in a myriad of genres and styles. Those experiences would lay the foundation for what I do now.

What would you be if you weren’t a musical director?
A cheesemaker! Dan and I love anything bucolic, and I could eat cheese and drink wine all day long.

What kind of music do you listen to?
I commute to New York and most of my car rides home are silent. I need lack of stimulus to reset my musical soul.

Would we find any books on your nightstand?
Piles. I only order books from Books on the Common. and I love to get lost in a great novel, love travel writing because it gives me a window into a world I don’t know well. I just finished Sun Seekers by Lyra Kilston, and I’m about to read The Overstory by Richard Powers.

Tell us about Jagged Little Pill?
The show is about how a Connecticut family deals with issues that are facing America today. It has a lot to do with the constantly evolving relationship between mother and daughter and how they continually learn from each other. It will start conversations about race and sexual assault.

It sounds heavy—how will it make us feel?
Uplifted and thoughtful. And there is no better music.

What do you want people to know about you?
A lot of my life has been about dealing with trauma—I want people to know that part of me says my relationship with trauma has defined who I am as an artist.

What don’t people know about you?
I strive to be the most centered person, but if you mess with people I love, I will rip out your beating heart!

Explain your role in ACT as resident music supervisor.
A large part of what I do is to act as liaison between ACT and Broadway, to bring some of the amazing people I work with to Ridgefield.

Is living in Ridgefield worth the commute?
Definitely. Best place on the planet. I love this town so much that I recently moved my mom here. There is a real love for the arts and creativity—there’s a spirit and an authenticity in people that is rare. There’s really a wonderful sense of community.

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