BYU student writes new musical ‘Paint My Eyes’

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The BYU student-composed musical “Paint My Eyes” will premiere on this campus for the first time on Nov. 19. This play explores the deep emotions two missionaries go through. This new musical highlights the message of hope and an ability to move on.

Maddi Dayton
BYU students perform in the new student-composed musical “Paint my Eyes.” The cast consists of all BYU students, and the playwright and music was written by Jamie Erekson. The musical explores the emotions of two LDS missionaries. (BYU Photo)

The musical takes place in Germany in 1995. Elder Garn, his new companion and four others find their lives crossing the anniversary of “Kristallnacht” (the Night of Broken Glass). The “Kristallnacht” was the beginning of the Holocaust. They all reflect on the past and look into their future, trying to determine which dreams they will follow and which they will forget and move forward from.

“I feel as though I have been stretched as an actor through this show,” said Carolyn Keller, an actor in the musical. “Throughout the show I am playing multiple characters, and I have to make an immediate switch from one character to another. It’s been a fun learning experience to differentiate between these characters.”

This new musical will not only appeal to BYU students who have served missions; its message highlights choices an individual must make when feeling alone and forsaken.

“There are no preconceived notions about what this musical is,” said Brian Carey, an actor in the musical. “I can go in and add my own spin on it without having to be confined to what others have done in the past because it is a brand-new show.”

The show is unique to BYU because it’s an original work. It’s a rare opportunity to see an original work, especially in Utah and at BYU. Jamie Erekson has worked incredibly hard to makes his vision of the show become a real production.

“My inspiration for writing this musical came to me because I served my mission in Germany and Austria,” said Erekson, composer and playwright of “Paint my Eyes.” “The production is based off of real people and real experiences that I had on my mission. I came back from my mission and had a great appreciation for stories. The musical has helped me process my mission and work out some things that I went through as a missionary.”

The play runs Nov. 19–22 at 8:00 p.m., with a matinee on Nov. 22 at 2:00 p.m. The performance will be in the Education in Zion Theater, B192B of the JFSB.  Tickets are $6.

“The musical shows some of the darker sides of missionary work but through a lens of safety,” Erekson said. “I think that missions are hard and you have to really figure out, ‘Do I believe this? Am I helping these people?’ These are all things returned missionaries can relate to.  At BYU spirituality and faith is a big part of our student body, and these things will resonate with audience members as they are a big part of the production.”

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