Local actor moves from ‘Oklahoma’ to ‘Bonnie and Clyde’

Corey Brunish is whooping it up on the plains in “Oklahoma,” but soon he will leave for the mean streets of New York City, where he will be in the cast of “Bonnie and Clyde,” a new musical opening Dec. 1 on Broadway. Brunish, who lives in Lake Oswego, is well known to Portland-area theater goers. He has performed with the Oregon Symphony, the Portland Opera and Broadway Rose. He has also acted in films with Madonna, Julianne Moore and Willem Dafoe. He recently appeared in the hit TNT television series “Leverage,” playing the chief executive officer of Baron Oil, the company responsible for the worst oil spill in history (at least on TV). In Clackamas Repertory Theatre’s production of “Oklahoma,” Brunish’s character is Ali Hakim, a Persian peddler, who brings exotic goods to the residents of the small town where the show is set. “He’s designed to be the funny one; he shows up, cracks a few jokes, gets into a love triangle with Ado Annie and Will, and gets Gertie, the girl he did not want,” Brunish says. The character of the traveling peddler is a realistic one, and very well documented, he adds, noting that the peddlers were based in New York and lived a “rough life,” sometimes being beaten up and robbed while they were on the road. As for “Bonnie and Clyde,” Brunish says he is a company member and will begin rehearsals in October. “The stars are Jeremy Jordan, acclaimed for his role as Tony in ‘West Side Story’ in 2009, and Laura Osnes, who has played many leads including Sandy in ‘Grease,’ Nellie in ‘South Pacific’ and Hope in ‘Anything Goes.’ Both are extraordinary singers and actors, and they are very nice and unassuming people, which is also a huge plus,” Brunish says. Director Jeff Calhoun is also well known on Broadway, having discovered Sutton Foster, who just won her second Tony award for “Anything Goes,” and he was also the creative force and director/choreographer behind the Tony-winning “Big River” by Deaf West, he adds. ‘Wonderful audiences’ Brunish has many irons in the fire. He has three indie movies coming out this year —“Coup De Cinema,” “Purple Mind” and “Wearing Normal” — and as a director/producer he has presented highly praised productions of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and Sondheim’s “Company.” He has co-authored a musical tribute to Frank Sinatra called “Write Myself A Letter,” which was recently published and is now available for regional productions. Last year, Brunish produced the CD “Portland Sings for Haiti,” featuring 24 local singers and musicians, which raised thousands of dollars for Mercy Corps for Haiti relief. He has recorded eight CDs of standards that can be heard at, and the latest of which is also available on vinyl at Music Millennium in Portland. But for one more weekend, Brunish is enjoying his role in “Oklahoma!”, appearing onstage for Clackamas Repertory Theatre for the first time. “CRT attracts wonderful audiences and has a wonderful facility,” Brunish says. “This is a well-oiled machine.”

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