Saturday, 25 January 2014

Tales from the Orchestra Pit: Guys and Dolls Part 10


Thursday night saw us give the fourth performance out of seven, although it seemed like a lot more when you add in all the rehearsals. This show was generally fairly standard, although there were a few points of interest that I’d like to mention.
Firstly, this performance was notable for being the first one in which we included some exit music, which we played while the audience was leaving the theatre afterwards. This consisted of part of the rewritten ‘Opening – Street Scene’, which is ironic because it is the one piece that wasn’t in the original version of the musical but was instead taken from one of the revival recordings. It did sound good though, and judging by the warm round of applause we received afterwards a fair portion of the audience stayed to listen to it, which is always nice.
The actors are continuing to modify their lines in the same places. Tonight Big Julie’s insult to Nicely Nicely Johnson just before ‘Sit Down You’re Rocking the Boat’ was, “Get up, you potato-faced queer!” And when it came to the scene with Nicely Nicely coming on stage eating a load of food, this time he was given what looked to me like a pie and a cucumber to munch on.
There’s another line that they’ve been adapting which I forgot to mention in my last post. It occurs just after the police lieutenant has greeted the gang of gamblers by name. He then goes up to Big Julie and asks him what his name is, where he’s from and what he does. Julie replies sarcastically “I’m a scoutmaster”. The policeman’s original response is “Well don’t let me catch you helping my mother cross the road”. But the variations that he’s come up with so far are “Well don’t let me catch you in a tent with my mother” and, on this particular evening, “Well don’t let me catch you tying knots with my mother”. It keeps things interesting for those of us who have to sit through the scene every night.
The other exciting moment of this performance occurred during ‘Take Back Your Pearls’. At one point in the song, the dancers on stage dramatically throw away their ‘pearl’ necklaces, but tonight one or two of them managed to throw them into the orchestra pit, narrowly missing the musical director! Apparently the cello section have been having problems with this as well. Perhaps they should bring umbrellas in future.
The reviews have well and truly started flowing in as well, and they can best be described as ‘glowing’. Very complimentary about the entire production. I haven’t read them all in detail, but I understand that the orchestra barely gets a mention in any of them. I’ve come to expect that, to be honest – we are taken for granted, it must be said. Normally the most you can hope for is one sentence mentioning the fact that we played well. Occasionally you get a reviewer who tries to be clever and point out the beautiful cello solos in the overture, say that the musical director must have spent a lot of time getting the soloists to sound so good. In doing so these reviewers typically just reveal their ignorance, when there aren’t actually any cello solos in the overture, or where the musical director hasn’t given any tips to the soloists at all. But it’s nice to be thought of anyway, so we can’t really complain in those cases. This time, however, it looks like we’ve been mostly disregarded. Oh well. They’d notice if we weren’t there.
My reeds are beginning to die. There’s not a lot I can do about this, as I don’t have the time to break in new ones and besides there’s not much point for the sake of two more days. I’ll just have to battle through with what I’ve got and hope that they can last until Saturday night.

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