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 Broadway musicians
Author: GBK 
Date:   2010-06-14 17:57

A nice video piece from the CBS Evening News about Broadway musicians - featuring Dan Willis who plays 8 instruments in the current run of West Side Story



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 Re: Broadway musicians
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2010-06-14 19:08

I almost commented on this story on the "Tony" thread.

It's amazing that revivals on Broadway that formerly had a book of 15 to 24 are now paired down to a typical 8 if that.

You have to be a magician (as Willis demonstrates on 8 instruments!) even to have a job.......then you're only guaranteed until the closing notice.

Dan must go through a lot of asperin.

.................Paul Aviles

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 Re: Broadway musicians
Author: David Spiegelthal 2017
Date:   2010-06-14 19:23

I wonder how guys like Dan and John Moses lug all that gear to the theatre? And how long does it take to swab out and put away all those horns after the show? Yikes.......................

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 Re: Broadway musicians
Author: classicalguss 
Date:   2010-06-14 21:24

And they play incredibly well, night after night. Hats off to them!

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 Re: Broadway musicians
Author: Hank Lehrer 
Date:   2010-06-15 10:39


This is a great piece as working shows is one of my favorite gigs.

The Reed III book for Chicago was 5 instruments with some very quick changes. When you have multiple instruments though, the strategic location for them takes a few performances to get down right. Finding the picc peg in the dark is tricky!

I'm always the last one out of the pit. The brass are gone in 5 minutes.


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 Re: Broadway musicians
Author: DixieSax 
Date:   2010-06-15 11:34

A band of this stuff wrapped around the top of the pegs makes them much easier to find in the dark.


Agree that the brass guys are fortunate that they can clear out of the pit quickly, but then they do have to live with playing music on that plumbing, so I guess they want to make a quick getaway.

The reductions are getting much more common. I did a production of "A Chorus Line" this spring that was cut dramatically. Ended up with Flute, Picc, Eb Clarinet, Bb Clarinet, Bass Clarinet, Alto Sax and Tenor Sax, with some very quick changes. Was supposed to do oboe as well, but a bout with Bell's Palsy that put me out of commission for quite some time had double reeds written off my list for a while. Fortunately, the MD let me cover some things that really needed covering with a C Clarinet, but all in all it was 8 horns - and it's not a real joy to drag them all in, set them up, and tear them down night after night.

But, it's what we do.

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 Re: Broadway musicians
Author: Lelia Loban 2017
Date:   2010-06-15 11:52

>>It's amazing that revivals on Broadway that formerly had a book of 15 to 24 are now paired down to a typical 8 if that.

I understand ballet companies are doing the same thing and also playing to recorded music instead of using a pit orchestra. I wonder what they do when they program Stravinsky's "L'Oiseau de Feu," which calls for quadruple woodwinds, three harps and a symphony-sized string section. A couple of days ago, I watched the excellent DVD of the Mariinsky Theatre's performance in St. Petersburg (Ekaterina Kondaurova as the Firebird, in a 2008 DVD release that also includes "The Rite of Spring," on Bel Air Classiques BAC 041). That orchestra, conducted by Valery Gergiev, sat so jam-packed into the traditional below-stage pit that the string players barely had room to bow. Bravo to the Mariinsky for using the full score. I'll bet it's a rarity now.

To hear the audio, click on the "Scorch Plug-In" box above the score.

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 Re: Broadway musicians
Author: Chetclarinet 
Date:   2010-06-15 12:03

Actually, the Houston Ballet Orchestra uses full orchestrations consistently. The orchestra has a 30 year record of doing so. I am thankfull for this! On the other hand, all of the Broadway touring, and Theatre Under the Stars (local large national regional company)musicals have had reduced orchestrations, often doing away with strings, and reducing the number of woodwind books. This obviously increases the pressure on the remaining woodwind doublers to play mulitple instruments well which is unfortunately becoming a dying art these days. What a thrill it was to recently play a run of the revival of South Pacific for TUTS with an originally scored orchestra of 26, which was acutually advertised in the program! The orchestra was not amplified, a rare treat!

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 Re: Broadway musicians
Author: Hank Lehrer 
Date:   2010-06-15 12:38

Dixie, that stuff looks cool. Thanks.

Chet, we did Wonderful Town last year at a local HS and all parts were covered which was really great. And the strings were behind the woodwinds and the full brass section, way on the other side of the pit. Two bari saxes BTW.

The weird thing was the pit was in front of the stage inside a U front stage extension. The only way into the pit was to crawl under the U on your hands and knees. I felt like a spelunker.


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