A few days into rehearsals, our director, Corey Brunish, announced to the cast that he’d been summoned to the White House. He was to join the President, the First Lady and a number of other investor/producer-types during the taping of an “In Performance at the White House” broadcast featuring Aretha Franklin and Patti Labelle. This audience of “high rollers”, as Corey put it, himself among them, had provided funding for the broadcast, one of particular interest to Michelle Obama titled “Women of Soul”.
He flew back to North Carolina the next day and, with characteristically understated flourish, gave each of us a White House cocktail napkin. “It’s all I could get away with,” he said.
If you google Corey Brunish, you’ll find that he’s also a Tony Award-winning Broadway producer of shows like “Pippin”, “Porgy and Bess” and the new Carole King tribute, “Beautiful”. You’ll find red carpet photos of him at various openings and grip-and-grins of him with notables from coast to coast. You’ll find his CD’s at Amazon.com and, if you google “Brunish Properties”, you’ll find the financial underpinnings of a sometimes eyebrow-raising stage and film career that spans decades.
Given his provenance, then, not to mention the fact that he lives in Portland, Oregon, his presence in Sanford, NC (population 29,000) directing a show at Temple Theatre deserves some explanation.
Peggy Taphorn, Temple’s artistic director, met Corey a few years ago when she was hired to choreograph a show at Portland ‘5. One of that center’s five performance spaces bears his name, you see … and here we are.
Corey is in New York now as we continue the run of “Jersey Lily”. Three more shows to open, he told us as he was leaving. More red carpet, more champagne. More paparazzi.
It’s a world I’ll never know and a fetish I little understand, but lest the spirit of this post be misunderstood, let me state for the record that Corey Brunish is a damn good director. One of the best I’ve known. Sure, the name dropping takes some getting used to, but really, if some names make more noise when they hit the floor than others, is that his fault? He knows who he knows and he does what he does.
Nothing wrong with that.