22. February 2018 · Comments Off on Yes, This is How it Works · Categories: Musical Theatre

I am playing The King & I this week. It’s a short run, which these days is somewhat typical in our area. It is NOT typical that we actually have five strings, a harp, four woodwinds, four brass (if I counted correctly!), percussion and only one keyboard player. I’m loving the larger group!

But here is how this works, and why one has to be on her toes:
We have our first rehearsal Tuesday morning, from 10:00 until 2:00 (although we actually were released 20 minutes early).

Oh … and we have our last rehearsal Tuesday morning, from 10:00 until 2:00.

Yep. One rehearsal.

Then a sound check happens from 5:30 to 6:30.

Opening that same day at 7:30.

We are able to get our music ahead of time, as they send out practice parts. We can watch a video of the conductor doing a show if we have the time (that isn’t usually the case since many of us are doing something else prior to moving to this. I had opera and lots of students).

So one has to be quite attentive at that first performance. Sometimes I can’t quite remember how we begin … does he give 1-2 first? Does he just give a prep upbeat? Fortunately this conductor is quite clear, and much of the time a player has written in the part about the prep, although a few times that pencilled in bit isn’t what the conductor does.

We also have to deal with new parts when we arrived Tuesday morning and boy was mine a mess! The parts are loose … no books, but separate parts for each number. There is so much music that our stands then to start to fall down so we have to use gaffer’s tape to keep that from happening. (I always have a few extra pieces on the bottom of my tray that attaches to the stand, in case I can’t get to the tape quickly enough.) I suspect the reason they don’t put books together is that changes take place as the run begins, and there are times a number has several versions for key changes (different singers, different keys).

But oh my part! Names of notes written above notes. Fingerings that I question. Circled items that are difficult to see because the circling is so dark. (And in the musical theater world “circling” sometimes means don’t play … something I learned once when a conductor kept saying to someone “circle it!” and the player insisted she did … which to her meant pay attention and play that correctly!) I bring a good eraser for the things I know might throw me. I do appreciate many of the marks, but I wonder why several people feel the need to rewrite the same instructions!

In any case, opening night went fine. Wednesday night was fine although I did a few things I didn’t like and water in the keys was an issue.

But pacing, pacing, pacing. Yesterday I only had three students and one show, so it was an easier day and I spent it cleaning and relaxing. (And yes, I find cleaning to BE relaxing!) Today is another three student day, and I’m not even sure I’ll do much cleaning. At my age much of survival is about that pacing! To think that I used to do shows in San Francisco: eight shows per week, six miserable drives per week. I don’t know how I stayed sane!)

And now … time to listen to some beautiful music to get ear worms out of my head. I love the musical, and I think it’s still so relevant, but ear worms are not my friends. I will NOT be whistling a happy tune at all today.

Oops, start up that ear worm, shall I?

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