Playing Music in the Dark

photo credit: Identity Photogr@phy via photopin cc

Getting to know you. To dream the impossible dream. Favorite things. What do all these have in common? (Answer at the end.)

Speaking of getting to know you–I’d love to get to know you better. What’s one of your favorite things?

In return, I’ll share too. :smile: One little bit each month.

My favorite things #10–playing pit orchestra for musicals.

Sitting in the dark, watching the drama and fun and color of a musical unfolding onstage as an audience member is great. As part of the pit, you get to see so much more. The musical (for free), sure, but you’re also privy to rehearsal bloopers and horrors (ask any community theater group what the show looked like the week before opening and prepare to laugh and cry) and the sometimes hilarious antics of brushup night.

My husband and I played pit for The Pirates of Penzance one summer. During the Croquet scene, one of the young ladies hit the ball too hard and my husband the cellist was beaned by a pool ball. So the next rehearsal he wore a hardhat.

Me and the Pit

Me and the Pit

A friend relates that, during The Wizard of Oz, Toto kept coming over to the pit to sniff the players. In our production, the cute doggy got bored in performance and decided to investigate himself! (My fictional heroine, pit musician Junior Steig, plays through a similar laugh-out-loud incident in Biting Oz.)

Another friend told of an old fog machine that got stuck during a performance. It produced great billowing gouts of the stuff. Stage fog is heavier than air, so when it gets to the pit it just falls right in. The string players’ bows–haired in horsehair–went completely limp. No sound at all! My friend and the rest plucked their instruments like guitars just to get some sound. Plunk plink plunk :grin:

Fun times aside, musicals speak to my heart. Who can’t relate to young novitiate Maria in Sound of Music as she goes to her first job outside the convent, seeking the courage she lacks in “I Have Confidence”? Who doesn’t feel the anticipation that tonight won’t be just any night, shared by West Side Story lovers Tony and Maria in the duet “Tonight, Tonight”?

Getting to know you. To dream the impossible dream. Favorite things. What do all these have in common? They’re all lines from hit musicals (The King and I, Man of LaMancha, Sound of Music), and they all speak to the heart.

About Mary Hughes

Who am I? A lover of stories that crackle with action and love. A mother, a flutist, a binge-TV-watcher of NCIS, Sherlock, and Agents of SHIELD. Most of all, a believer in grand passion. Mary's online and would love to hear from you! Website Blog Group Blog Group Blog Facebook Twitter Newsletter signup
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6 Responses to Playing Music in the Dark

  1. Edie Ramer says:

    Mary, I’m so glad you’re part of MM. This was so interesting to read. I always think of you as a writer, but you have this other fascinating part of your life. All of us are multi-faceted, but you are more than most.

    One of my favorite things is my pets – my cat and dog. (That’s really two, but it’s under one category.) They’re my company during the day. They bring me joy and love and laughter. They’re never critical (at least, the dog isn’t; I’m not so sure about the cat). I could go on, but it’s all about the love. 🙂

  2. Mary Hughes says:

    Hi Edie! Let me skip ahead a few months and say my #1 favorite thing is amazing successful authors who somehow manage to make time to be my friends, like–you! I got a real kick out of seeing Hearts in Motion rocket to the top 10 Kindle bestsellers, then #2…it’s still in the top 50 😀

    Love your favorite thing, your pets! Unconditional love…”not so sure about the cat”, lol. So true–part of our family too. For me, there’s something about a warm cat sleeping on my lap that makes me feel peaceful 🙂

  3. Liz Kreger says:

    Hi Mary. Love the stories of life in the pits. Too funny.

    Let’s see … one of my favorite things is hangin’ with family and friends. To me, a good friend is priceless.

    • Mary Hughes says:

      Hi Liz! Thanks for your kind words 🙂 Yes, time with family and friends is wonderful! Even simply reading or studying is more fun if my husband is in the room.

  4. Mary,
    I’m seeing this late, but I just had to respond — how cool that you’ve gotten to play in the pit!! I’m a HUGE fan of musicals (I would go to see one every weekend if I could…), and I’ve always been in awe of the talented musicians who play in the orchestra. Out of earshot, I’ll stumble way through some of my musical favorites on the piano — “The Phantom of the Opera,” “Chess,” “The Sound of Music,” etc. — but I wouldn’t subject anyone to actually listening to me, LOL. I’ll never stop loving all of those fabulous songs, though!! 🙂

    • Mary Hughes says:

      Hi Marilyn! I’m in awe of all pianists. I only have to deal with one line and one clef. 🙂 I love that you play musicals music! There’s something special about those songs. More excitement, more fun, more love and tragedy and comedy…I’d heard the songs of many of the musicals before I was in the pit and it was so much fun seeing how they actually fit in the story! I don’t know the music for Chess, but now I’ll be looking for it!

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