Dean Paglino: The Write Stuff
On Sept. 23, Shoreline Theater Academy/Kidz Konnection in Clinton will hold a very special performance titled Cycle of the Sun. The musical is an original story written by 17-year-old Guilford resident Dean Paglino.
Cycle of the Sun is a 75-minute musical that Dean says touches on themes familiar to many teens, such as anxiety, depression, and what Dean calls “the epidemic of mental illness.”
While careful not to reveal too much of the plot, Dean says, “It centers around four teens who interact with each other and bounce off each other.”
“The musical focuses on the individuality of reality and how we all perceive things in different ways,” Dean adds.
The musical will be performed twice on Saturday, Sept. 23. One show will be at 6 p.m., and the other will be at 8 p.m. The performances will take place at 61 East Main Street in Clinton. Tickets can be purchased for $10 at the door or in advance online at kidzkonnectionct.org.
Proceeds from ticket sales go toward supporting the Zip to Script program at the theater, which allows kids between 14 and 21 years old to develop their own work. Kids work with a consultant who is a playwright in New York City. The program is sponsored by Families Helping Families in Clinton.
Writing the musical was about a two-year process, according to Dean. “Everything you see in the show is something I wrote,” he notes. Dean started writing the music in April 2021 and then the script in November 2022. He completed the writing process last April.
Of his motivation to write the musical in the first place, Dean says he drew on his personal experiences.
“My experience as a teenager is a common one. Partially, this musical is a way to express my ideas,” Dean says. I think there’s almost a painful level of humanity in it that makes the characters relatable.”
As one might expect, Dean has been interested in the performing arts for several years. He first began performing with Kidz Konnection seven years ago as a fifth grader and appeared in several of its musicals, but his interest in performing started even before that.
“I would say I first got interested in about third grade.”
Dean has even had the good fortune of appearing as an extra in several notable movies and shows, including Gossip Girl, Madam Secretary, and Here Today. However, even with that impressive resume, there is something Dean likes better than acting.
“In general, though, I prefer writing,” he says.
Asked what his favorite part of the writing process for Cycle of the Sun was, Dean responds, “I really enjoyed compiling all the songs I made. Initially, they all didn’t connect; it was interesting to see what links were where when I was writing. For example, there is one character named Stephen who is depressed, and the songs I wrote when I was more in a negative mood, I gave to his character to sing.”
As for the hardest part of writing, Dean acknowledged that the same pratfalls that may lead other teenagers to procrastinate impact him, too.
“I really struggle with motivation. I’m not some superhuman. I spend a lot of time on YouTube like other kids,” Dean says with a laugh.
Dean lives and grew up in Guilford, where he is a senior at Guilford High School. Currently, Dean is going through the college application process and hopes to hear back soon from his number one choice, Brown University. Dean says he’d like to continue studying performing arts while at college.
“I’m always pressuring myself to write more. I’ve written a screenplay I’m going to film with a friend soon,” he says.
In his spare time, Dean likes to play strategy games, either online or board games, and he is also a big fan of stand-up comedy. Asked his favorite part of Guilford, Dean responds with what is surely a big hit for many of his peers.
“I really like the 20 chicken nuggets for $5 deal at Big Y.”