After years away from the pit, I’m delighted to return to the theatre scene as musical director of this outstanding production. And I’m so happy to be working with Scott and the gang at New Line Theatre in Saint Louis.
We put things together on Sunday with the band. Among the group is a Webster University student and a Webster alum. I understand that I’ll have another alum and another student subbing during the run of the show.
Sunday’s rehearsal was delightful. We made it through the the first-read with the orchestra and first-sing-with-orchestra (called a sitzprobe in theatre and opera terminology) in less than three hours. I worked a few details with the orchestra, and from long experience know that the rest of the finicky stuff will be taken care of during the three dress rehearsals this week.
Having the band and the singers together for the first time is always an electrifying experience. The music comes alive. I hear and see different things. Of course we have timing issues, but these are happy problems as we ask the actors to let the music breathe a bit (and let that guitar get in that lick, and let the drums fill for an instant, and let the fiddle simply fiddle). I love that I get to play a bit less and quit trying to fill in all the gaps. And I love the whole concept and reality of the intense collaboration that takes place in the orchestra pit. The bottom line for all of us who have been present rehearsal after rehearsal: everything sounds different . . . full . . . alive . . . whole . . . and this leads to much happiness.
That I’m surrounded by pros in the pit (actually, packed in like sardines with pros in a tight space) makes my life easy. We made quick work of problem spots. I have a great rhythm section that instinctively knows what to do. The color is provided by a woodwind player and a fiddle/violin player and a second keyboard player, all knowledgeable and experienced. Monday’s run was a quantum leap over Sunday’s very fine sitz.
So one run is down, and two more will bring us to a preview night and then the official opening of Bonnie & Clyde on Friday.
What fun this is!!