Sunday, 19 January 2014

Tales from the Orchestra Pit: Guys and Dolls Part 5


Sorry that this report of yesterday’s rehearsal is a bit late, but yesterday was a long day and in the end I didn’t have time to write it then. As a matter of fact I’ve only got about twenty minutes now until I have to get ready to set off for the next rehearsal, so this will be a brief post. It will take the form of a series of bullet points highlighting the key things from yesterday:

  • I turned up at nine in the morning, although most of the orchestra didn’t arrive until quite a bit later and we didn’t start rehearsing properly until after ten.
  • We were in a different venue, so had to set everything up again.
  • Fortunately the chairs in this room were exceedingly comfortable, which makes a change from the past two days!
  • We initially set up all of the orchestra chairs at one side of the room, but then we had to move them all to the other side because the directors wanted the orchestra in a different place. Just another example of wires getting crossed.
  • Whilst we set up the orchestra, the cast were doing an aerobic warmup. Once again I was counting myself lucky that I didn’t have to participate in any of that – it looked to be far too much like school P.E. lessons for my liking.
  • The orchestra spent a considerable portion of the morning sitting quietly doing nothing whilst the cast went through scenes and dances without music. This was very frustrating for all of us, who knew that a large amount of our time was being wasted.
  • At times we were pleading with the musical director just to let us play something in order to justify our presence.
  • As usual there was much consternation among the orchestra, particularly about having to wait around for so long. Several people half-jokingly suggested a mass walk out, in the style of Haydn’s 45th Symphony.
  • At one point I was discussing with the trumpets the possibility of doing a New Orleans style version of Follow the Fold as the exit music, whilst the audience leave the theatre. I doubt it will actually happen, but it would be great fun and would finally turn that cue into a decent piece of music.
  • The afternoon was slightly more interesting for us, as it was a full run of the show. I took the opportunity to watch as much of it as I could, particularly the dances, because once we’re in the orchestra pit we probably won’t be able to see any of the actual performance.
  • There were the usual problems with the music, i.e. poor conducting leading to messy entries and missed cues. There were still a fair few forgotten lines from the cast.
  • Having said that, the show is in good shape overall. I don’t doubt the performances will be decent. The thing is that they have the potential to be exceptional, and it would be a shame if that potential wasn’t completely fulfilled.
  • The run started at around quarter past two and finished at about five o’clock. This included several breaks and pauses for discussion, so I imagine the final thing will be about two and a half hours in total, which is a reasonable length of show to my mind.

I think those are all the main points from yesterday. I’m supposed to be back at the rehearsal room for nine o’clock today, which is in 35 minutes, and will probably be there until late in the afternoon again. Then tonight are the sound checks in the actual theatre. I have a feeling this is going to be another long day. Wish me luck!

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