The “Keys” to Success: Pianist Brenda Granroth celebrates final musical


Pianist Brenda Granroth is retiring after 20 musicals with Milford Theatre Company (Photos courtesy of Tara Johnson Photography).

Alexis Cornett, Editor in Chief

What would a musical be without music? And yet what is rarely seen by the audiences is the work of the band and musicians that play beneath the stage in the “pit.” Pianist Brenda Granroth has been pivotal to the success of the musicals at Milford High School. She will be retiring this year after 20 shows with the Milford Theatre Company.

“It’s gonna be a tough one,” Theater Director Megan Weeks said about Granroth’s departure. “H

er skill set was so unique and her commitment to this was so thorough. It’s going to be hard to replace somebody to do that. We absolutely recognize it might take two people so we’ll see what we can do but we’re really happy for her and really just pleased that she did 20 years with us.”

Granroth began her musical journey at Milford with the 2003 production of Fame. At the time, her own children were students in the Huron Valley District. Granroth was an accompanist for the band and choral solo and ensemble competitions, something she continues to assist with today.

“She’s also extremely helpful,” Senior Vivian Lakin said. “I remember freshman year, my first musical theater solo and ensemble, I had no clue what was going on… She told me what to wear. She gave me so many notes on singing and stuff and she’s always someone I know I can go to.”

Granroth’s involvement in the fall musicals was spurred by the retirement of former choral director Jim Cuddy, who was a pianist for the shows himself But with his retirement, the job of accompanist was left vacant. Granroth was the perfect replacement.

“I think it just kind of fit in,” Weeks said. “She started doing some help in the classroom with [the new choir director] Miss. Lajoye, maybe helping with solo and ensemble and doing some things, and then we need somebody to play the musical. So I think it just started to kind of flow from there.”

The symmetry between the directors within the Milford Theatre Company is one of the largest factors in its success. Granroth is celebrating her 20th show alongside choreographer Suzanne Jonna.

“Those two have been part of that foundation from the get go,” Weeks said regarding Granroth and Jonna’s contributions. “They both strive for excellence. They both strive to have everything be really good and really perfect in their own ways and in their own worlds.”

Granroth’s lasting impact on choral students at Milford is evident. “Granroth absolutely carries this entire theater company,” Lakin said. “We would not have a single song or number in this show or any show without her, except for maybe the play. Because literally we could not do any of it. She’s at pretty much every rehearsal for the last whole, like two months of the show. And she’s sitting in the pit playing her songs… She’s very, very reliable and also just a caring human being. The theater company is definitely losing an amazing piece of our team and family.”

In a fitting tribute, the opening number of Act 2 of White Christmas was “I Love a Piano.” This ambitious number featured Granroth’s impressive piano skills and, in an exciting twist, saw her make her debut in front of the audience. After so many years spent behind the scenes (or in this case, in the music pit) Granroth took her final bow with the Milford Theatre Company on stage.

Brenda Granroth performed on stage during the opening number of Act Two, “I Love a Piano.”