Working with both the pit and the singers I think gives me a unique perspective on the process of learning the music of a musical. It’s really easy when you’re putting on a musical for the singers to assume that the pit should come in one week before the show and know everything perfectly. And frankly the pit probably thinks the same about the singers – that they should know all their pitches and know exactly what’s going on. Most of the time, the pit and the cast are pretty distant from each other during the whole music learning process and really have no idea what the other is working on, and probably don’t even think about the rehearsal time the other group must spend to prepare. So the point of this post is to bridge that gap and let the cast see a little hint of the pit and the pit a little of the cast.
This first video is from a pit rehearsal two weeks ago. The first song is the ending to ‘Til We Reach That Day”, and the music starts about 30 seconds into the video. There are a few instruments missing, but it sounds pretty good for one of our first read-throughs of this part!
This next video is part of Your Daddy’s Son, and I thought it would be particularly interesting for the cast to see how hard it can be to learn a song with none of the vocal parts present especially when there are a lot of instrumental rests. Without singers there, we have no way to interpret how long to make pauses or freer sections, so we just have to practice lots of different ways and be flexible to change when it all gets put together later. Kevin (our conductor) is singing some parts in this video to fill in where you really need vocals to keep the song going.
So then from the other side of things, this is part of the music rehearsal with the cast learning part of ‘Gettin Ready Rag’. Even though the clip is short, the energy of the cast in this part is really great and comes across even in a few seconds.
This last video is kind of just for fun because I don’t think the cast knew they were being filmed dancing in between their entrances. But it is still neat for the pit to see real people singing the parts that they have heard (without words) at pit rehearsals and start to put faces to some of the characters they have only heard mentioned.
The last video brings up one last interesting point – the cast might not realize, but it is not always obvious to the pit who all (or any) of the characters in the show are or what the plot is, unless of course they are enrolled in the Ragtime class. For example, in a different show I played in the pit for, we played the music for all of the 10 shows, but nobody in the pit ever knew why the audience ever laughed at a specific line that didn’t seem particularly funny. It wasn’t until we later saw a video recording later of the show and saw the actor’s face for the first time did we realize that it was actually the actor’s expression that was hilarious the whole time. That might seem weird, but think how much you would miss if you could only hear a musical and not see any of the acting.
Anyways, hope you all enjoyed the short video clips!