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Producing winning plays, LO man nominated for 34 Tony awards

by: VERN UYETAKE - Most recently, Brunish has been involved in a local play, titled November, which he describes to be a presidential comedy.

Brunish juggles producing and acting, New York and Lake Oswego


"Through the front door" is Lake Oswego resident Corey Brunish's good-natured response to how he got into theater, displaying his characteristic humor and quick wit.

Brunish's entrance through the front door of the musical theater world has been a fruitful one, leading him down a road of acting, directing and now producing in New York on the Broadway stage, a venture which has resulted in a total of 34 Tony nominations for the three plays he produced this season.

The "over 40-years-old " Brunish was born in Los Angeles and has lived in Oregon for the past 30 years. Brunish began his time in Oregon living in Northeast Portland, moving to Lake Oswego to find a lot with a view on which he could build. After finding that lot and building a house that "literally took longer to build than the Empire State Building," Brunish settled in Lake Oswego and has lived here for the past 14 years. by: VERN UYETAKE - Corey Brunish basks in the glow that comes with being involved in three productions that collectively were nominated this year for 34 Tony Awards.

Brunish was in the theater for 40 years as an actor, segueing most recently into producing and directing. He first became interested in acting as a child watching television, going on to formally study musical theater at Occidental College in Southern California. He has been active over the years with the Lakewood Center for the Arts.

While Brunish himself is a highly accomplished actor and singer, his focus is now more behind the scenes.

"Directing is what I was born to do," he said. "It's the idea of nurturing someone to be the best they can be and delivering something to the audience that's compelling that is amazing to me."

Brunish's sentiments are similar when he speaks of his recent role as a Broadway producer, saying, "I love that you can come in with an idea that no one's thought of in five years, and the next night it's on stage."

Brunish made the move from acting to producing with the help of Portland colleague Brisa Trinchero, whom he had previously worked with at the Broadway Rose Theatre Company. Brunish and Trinchero are now producing partners, both no doubt basking in the glow of the success of their Broadway debut.

Producing and assistant directing three shows this season, Brunish's shows won an assortment of Tony awards, including Best Revival for "Porgy and Bess," which was nominated for a total of 10 awards. Brunish's other shows included "Peter and the Starcatcher," which was up for nine awards and won five, a record for a new play, as well as "Bonnie and Clyde," which was nominated for two Tonys but received no wins.

Brunish was also involved with two other shows this season; he was an investor in "Evita," which received three nominations, as well as a producer of "Nice Work If You Can Get It," which received 10 nominations.

More than just offering notes and being involved in the daily planning of advertisements and publicity, Brunish said that he worries a lot about the plays he is involved in, especially because of the weight Tony nominations and awards play. He noted, "For a producer, an award is critical because it means we can break even and do it again. That's all we want - we want Broadway to live on."

When it came time for the Tony award show itself, Brunish reflected that the experience was "surreal."

"You hope your friends win and that your shows do well," he said.

After three days of rehearsals for the show, Brunish said that by the time the actual night came the show itself was familiar, though rubbing shoulders with stars such as Neil Patrick Harris and Mila Kunis made it an unforgettable night.

Brunish sees the soundtrack of the shows he is involved in as their most-lasting effect.

"The CD is the legacy of the show," he said.

Brunish himself is a singer, having recorded more than 100 songs in the studio. His love of music was initially sparked in high school, where Brunish listened to soundtracks over and over.

His dream now is to influence high school students through soundtracks as he was influenced. This is especially important as Brunish believes "the future of musical theater is high school kids."

Brunish was involved this season with the soundtracks of "If You Can Get it," "Porgy and Bess" and "Bonnie and Clyde."

Outside of the theater, Brunish also runs his own real estate developing company, Brunish Properties. Brunish has been involved with the company for the past 24 years, simultaneously developing properties and acting with "almost every company in town," notably the Lakewood Center for the Arts in their productions of "Anything Goes" and "Man of la Mancha."

Brunish most recently is involved in a local play, titled "November," which he describes to be a presidential comedy. "November" is put on through Portland production company Jane. The play opened June 21 and runs through July 21.

When asked if he will continue producing and directing on Broadway, Brunish laughed and said the choice is not entirely up to him.

"When you're in New York, go see a Broadway show. Then I'll be involved," he said.




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