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. 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.
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
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.