Watching Grammy nominated Music Director Bryan Perri lead a Broadway orchestra is like taking a masterclass in the art of conducting. Several years ago, I had the rare opportunity to sit in the orchestra pit of Broadway’s WICKED and observed Bryan conducting this mega-musical. I was blown away by what I witnessed. Like many, I naively thought that conducting was only about waving a baton to keep tempo and to communicate with musicians. Not so. Throughout the 2 hour and 45-minute performance, I watched Bryan troubleshooting, problem solving, communicating with stage management, cueing actors on stage, all while calmly and silently keeping the musicians in tempo and in tune. Each of Bryan’s dance-like arm movements efficiently conveyed intention and instruction on how every note was to be played or sung.
“Conducting is ultimately about inspiring the music,” Perri said. “It is about creating an energy that communicates emotion to the musicians so that every note played elicits a meaningful response from the audience.”
After five years of serving as Music Director of Broadway’s WICKED, Perri left the show in 2018 to begin working with Alanis Morissette on JAGGED LITTLE PILL. That show opened on Broadway in 2019 and subsequently closed December 2021. “I grew up a big fan of Alanis’s music and so having the opportunity to work on a musical based on her iconic album was a thrill. The collaboration with Alanis was truly inspiring,” said Perri.
While Perri is committed to his work on Broadway, he has also found an artistic home in Ridgefield. He, along with Artistic Director Daniel C. Levine and Executive Director Katie Diamond, co-founded Ridgefield’s gem of a theater, ACT of CT. Now in its 5th season, ACT of CT has gained national recognition (with Perri, Levine and Stephen Schwartz earning Grammy nominations this year for ACT’s cast album of SNAPSHOTS). Perri serves as ACT’s Resident Music Supervisor and said, “High quality regional theaters like ours are the true heartbeat of this industry and are incubators where new art is created and new talent discovered. While the ‘glamour’ of Broadway is an exciting perk of my career, I place a ton of value on the innovative work that we produce at ACT. To create productions outside of the commercial restraints of a large-scale Broadway production is exciting and extremely satisfying.”
ACT’s Broadway Unplugged series (which Perri created especially for ACT audiences) has become a wildly popular event that sells out within days of announcing. For this series, Perri brings one of his Broadway celebrity friends to ACT for an evening of incredible performances, hysterical banter, and unforgettable stories. Past stars include Jessica Vosk, Lindsay Mendez, Derek Klena, Elizabeth Stanley, Kate Baldwin, and Lauren Patten. Bryan’s next Broadway Unplugged performance at ACT will be December 12th and his guest star will be Solea Pfeiffer, star of Broadway’s ALMOST FAMOUS.
ALMOST FAMOUS, which opens on Broadway on November 3rd, is Perri’s current production. He serves as both the show’s Music Supervisor and conductor. ALMOST FAMOUS is based on the 2000 film written and directed by Cameron Crowe (and starred Kate Hudson). Crowe has written the script for this new Broadway musical. “Working with Cameron Crowe on adapting this iconic movie for the stage has been a daily source of joy,” said Perri. “Our ALMOST FAMOUS cast is extraordinary and lead by the incomparable Solea Pfeiffer. I am so very excited for our ACT audiences to experience this ‘once in a generation talent’ at our upcoming Broadway Unplugged!” •