I still remember the first musical I ever saw. It was in my grandmother's living room as she popped in the tape of THE SOUND OF MUSIC into the VHS player in her South Carolina home. I was transported. I had every line, lyric and piece of choreography memorized within the week and invited my parents to view my own one woman rendition of the entire film. From that moment on, I became a student of these classics. I was mesmerized by Gene Kelly, Vera Ellen, Debbie Reynolds, Donald O'Connor, Gordon McRae, Doris Day, Gene Nelson, Frank Sinatra, Julie Andrews, Howard Keel, and so many more. They became my mentors and teachers for this magical world of musical film. My parents fed into this growing obsession by taking me to see productions at my local community theater which is where I became aware of the fact that changed my life- you could be paid to do what Vera Ellen and the others did in the films. And with that knowledge, my career path was decided. I saw everything that I could- every film at Blockbuster. Every show that came to the Barbara B. Mann Theater. Every documentary that TCM would air-- I would soak up every second to be immersed in this world of musical theater. And I have not stopped since.
I grew up and have been blessed by theater throughout my adult life, but the biggest blessing was when I became a mother of two beautiful girls. I relished the fact that my girls seem to share my love of the classic films and you can very often find us downloading one of the old classics during family movie night on Friday. However, when they became older and were capable of sitting through an entire 3 hour production, I found it difficult to find opportunities to expose them to high quality productions of musical theater classics. Many of the houses today find it more valuable to produce works that push social dialogue through worldviews that counter our own.
Although, I believe that is a function the theater has always held...and should continue to... the other function is wonderful escapism. Starting with OKLAHOMA, theater has been a place of happiness and unity during difficult times. A place for us to come together and have a night of shared experience to bring us together no matter the great diversity we may come from. A place of joy.
That is why the mission statement for Perry Ryan is "to preserve the JOY of musical theater for future generations".
And no members of that generation are more important to me than my own, Jozlyn Perry and Kendall Ryan. They've inspired this endeavor for me, but we do it for all the "Jozlyns" and "Kendalls" out there. We will aim to produce theater where the story is king. Free from social agendas. This does not mean we will produce only children's productions or do no work that evokes strong emotions and encourages hard conversations. But it does mean that the story will lead the production...always.
Our promise is that, we will work with anyone, welcome everyone, and preserve the joy of musical theater for future generations.