SUU Blog | T-Bird Nation

SUU Student Composer Making Stage Production Dreams Come True

Brandon Grayson, musical theatre major, wrote the music for the Utah Shakespeare Festival's plays in the Engelstad Shakespeare TheatreKnown for his musical talents at Southern Utah University, senior musical theatre student Brandon Scott Grayson came to the university in 2014 with a dream of writing musicals. In March, Grayson came one step closer to that dream when he was approached by Utah Shakespeare Festival (USF) to work as musical director for the Engelstad Shakespeare Theater’s 2017 season.

From April to July, Grayson worked closely with directors, choreographers and sound designers preparing for the season which began mid-July. Specifically, he worked on three productions:  “Romeo and Juliet,” “As You Like It” and “Shakespeare in Love.”

According to Grayson, “Romeo and Juliet” has the least amount of music, with most of his work focusing on the ballroom scene where the two lovers meet for the first time. The plays “As You Like It” and “Shakespeare in Love” both incorporate considerable amounts of music, with the “Shakespeare in Love” score written by Paddy Cunneen (written for the original West End production), and the “As You Like It” score written by Grayson himself.

“While I loved working on all three shows, I must admit that most of my heart and soul is in ‘As You Like It,’ because it features my music,” he said.

Grayson credits SUU and its faculty for giving him many opportunities to experiment, explore and discover his talents and professional style. He came to SUU wanting to be a musical theatre composer, and said SUU has done everything to cement that passion.

“I had such a wonderful time working with the directors, designers and actors to create unique music for the world we were creating. I wanted the music to be a very natural extension of the play itself, and our specific production of it.”

At SUU, Grayson said his music classes have helped him develop a theoretical understanding of how music works. His theatre classes helped him think of music in a more dramatic sense, and how to write to complement a scene or a moment. All of this was able to tap into for his composition work on “As You Like It.”

As for his future, Grayson hopes to be accepted to the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop in New York City, a highly illustrious program for budding musical theatre writers. His ultimate goal is to become a successful Broadway composer, and then eventually make his way to Walt Disney Imagineering to fulfill his dream of creating music for Disney Parks.

“I want to continue to create music for theatrical outlets,” Grayson said. “I always want to be pushed, and I always want to discover more.”