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Milligan theatre’s ‘Proof’ first to feature music by Dolly Parton’s former musical director

MILLIGAN, Tenn. (March 18, 2024) – Milligan University theatre will present the first production of David Auburn’s “Proof” with a musical composition by Dolly Parton’s former musical director Dr. Gregg Perry.

Performances will take place in Milligan’s McGlothlin-Street Theatre in the Gregory Center from April 4-7.

The combination of “Proof,” a Pulitzer Prize and Tony award-winning play, with an original musical composition occurred to Frances Saxton, Milligan’s assistant professor of theatre and artistic director, when she was introduced to Perry.

“I knew Gregg’s background and his work with Dolly Parton, and I wanted to experiment with original composition and a play – something I have never done,” said Saxton. “He agreed, and I contacted the playwright, David Auburn. David and I chatted back and forth, and I arranged a conversation with David, the cast and Dr. Gregg Perry.”

Perry began his professional career arranging and producing commercials in Chicago for clients such as McDonalds, United Airlines and Sears. He eventually moved to Tennessee where he became Parton’s musical director and toured with her show for many years. He also arranged and produced her hit song, “9 to 5,” and its record.

When Parton took an extended leave from performing, Perry decided to make a career change and graduated from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in 1991. Despite this change, he never gave up music and has performed with the Nashville Repertory Theatre, the University of Tennessee, the University of Mississippi, Carson-Newman University and Jonesborough Repertory Theatre, among others.

He is currently working with Parton again providing recording tracks for her upcoming Broadway show which is scheduled to open in 2025.

“Proof” follows Catherine as she grieves the death of her brilliant but unstable father, a famous mathematician, on the eve of her 25th birthday. After spending years caring for him, she is left to deal with her emotions; her estranged sister Claire; and the arrival of Hal, her father’s former student who hopes to find valuable work in her father’s 103 notebooks left behind. Over a long weekend, the discovery of a mysterious notebook makes Catherine question how much of her father’s madness and genius she possesses.

The cast features Milligan freshman Jocelyn Kain of Bluff City, Tennessee, as Catherine; freshman Cole Fox, Bristol, Tennessee, will play Hal; freshman Mylee Doty, Greeneville, Tennessee, as Claire; and freshman Isaac Maples, Irving, Texas, will play Robert.

The play is directed by Saxton, and the technical director and scenic designer is Brian Saxton, assistant professor of theatre at Milligan. Alongside Brian Saxton, Andrew Morehouse, the lighting director and master electrician for Barter Theatre in Abingdon, Virginia, serves as co-lighting designer.

“This has been an enjoyable and very positive process for our cast,” said Frances Saxton. “Collaboration with experienced, professional artists presents exciting opportunities for our students.”

Showtimes are 7:30 p.m., April 4-6, and Sunday, April 7, at 2 p.m. All seats are reserved. Tickets are on sale for $12 at

To learn more about Milligan’s theatre program, visit

Posted by Greer, Allie E on March 18, 2024.