Hearing “April” made opening night seem so far away when I was first getting involved with Ragtime; it’s hard to believe that the first show is this Thursday! Today was the first rehearsal with the pit joining the cast in Reynolds, and I’m sure people in the pit will agree that it amplified our excitement for this production. Of course, there are also things that I am nervous about — I feel that I’m one of the pit members with less experience in performing, so there are elements of the music which might faze me more. However, it is a privilege to be playing alongside such talented, welcoming people and it motivates me to work more, in order to keep up with the caliber of the other musicians and with the spectacular epic quality that this show presents.
This musical is unique for me in other ways that make it a first of some sorts. As a more minor example, although I’ve played in several pit orchestras for shows, none has had parts in both seven flats and seven sharps at some point (yay!). I’ve also never been part of such a big pit before (whose fuller sound is a wonderful first), leading to another first: I have also never felt so literally close to the pit before — it’s a lot of people down there! One of the bigger firsts for me is that this musical is mostly a ‘sung-through’ show (a term I learned on Wikipedia only this semester while reading about Ragtime) with only scattered dialogue. When I went to my first rehearsal with the pit, I kept on missing the fluid connections between each number, since no other musical I’ve been involved with had been of this nature. In past musicals, numbers were usually isolated and having “attacca” (signifying that one should go on to the next number without pause) written after the end of the number was the special case. In contrast, with Ragtime, it is almost always safe to assume an attacca. I had never thought about the effect of this before, but now I think that it is very fitting for this musical. I don’t know if this meshes with others’ thoughts, but when I think of Ragtime now, I think of a lush, historical epic with a very grand presence (partly because of the huge set and large cast, I’m sure). Because music has a power to manipulate emotion and has a dynamic presence of its own, it seems very fitting to me that it is present throughout most of this musical, accompanying all that occurs. I’ve loved playing in musicals, and learning about how music can play different roles in shows has been gratifying and a good reminder of how it can affect.
After seeing the truly AMAZING set and some of the props (while trying to weave our way down to the pit, we ran into the Model T–what a prop!) and hearing the actors’ voices give words to some of the music, I’m very excited about starting to play through the show tomorrow.