29. August 2006 · Comments Off on New Trend? · Categories: imported, Ramble

When A Chorus Line came out the first time, folks realized they could hide an orchestra. When I played it the pit was entirely covered so that you couldn’t see us at all. There was a reason, I was told: the musical was to feel as much like a real audition as possible, and of course you don’t have a pit band for an audition. So that made sense.

But then we started being hidden for other shows as well. They realized we didn’t eve have to be in the same room … or building, for that matter! … to play a musical; the instruments used microphones anyway, so why not put us pesky folks elsewhere and play with balances? No light leak. No noises from the pit animals. No prob.

This led to a concern, as you might imagine, as it could easily take us to the Virtual Orchestra or even tape. (And yes, tape has been done.) But I think audiences have appreciated seeing the orchestra and we have gradually come back in for most shows. Audience members always come to the pit prior to the show, during intermission, and after. They are always appreciative and we love yakking with them.

But now, with the new Sondheim Sweeney Todd, something new has been brought in; have the stage folk play the instruments. No more pit, and lots of money saved. And isn’t also something new, unusual, and witty (Patti Lupone playing tuba?!) fun to see? (Hearing might be another story, but I’ve not seen the production so what can I say?) But I thought, “Not to worry … not every show can do this sort of thing.”

Reading this however, I see that another Sondheim show is going to do the same thing, though. Sigh. Company will have the stage folk doing the instruments. I wonder if they’ll have an oboist (there is oboe in the score) or if, as with Sweeney, they’ll just dump the oboe (along with other instruments).

Time will tell.