For the last few months I’ve been involved in Canberra Philharmonic’s production of Rock of Ages. As I write this we’re down to the last three shows of a thirteen show run – it’s been one of the most enjoyable musical experiences of my life and well up there on the overall list of Cool Things I have Done :)
The show itself has garnered some excellent and I believe well deserved reviews (in date order – 1, 2, 3 & 4) and the Company are amongst the nicest and most talented folk I’ve had the good fortune to work with. We have a lot of fun putting the show on – it really does rock – and the audience reception has been fantastic even on the nominally “quieter” nights early in the week.
While I’m something of a tragic when it comes to going to Musicals, this is the first time I’ve actually been in one and I doubt I could have hoped for a better entree.
Being in a Musical is a bit like being in an awesome band but with about 12x the number of people. A very talented bunch, egos refreshingly held well in check and a degree of camaraderie, mirth and esprit de corps that would leave a well organised sporting team looking for ways to improve themselves.
My intention is to write a bit of a lessons learned post in the not too distant future, being as I am basically a rock keyboardist who has been fitting in to the world of Pit Musician. But some initial thoughts;
- It’s nice to leave your gear at the show unchanged for a few weeks. Turn up, uncover gear, power up, line check, rock out Act 1, intermission, rock out Act 2, shut down, cover up gear, socialise a little, go home, try to sleep, sleep. Rinse, repeat.
- Saturdays with two shows (Matinee and Evening) are tiring. On the plus side you get to do it twice and with careful food selection and a power nap, easy to make the night show as energetic as the afternoon.
- It’s fun to be in costume (RoA is unusual in that the band are on stage at the back rather than in the “Pit” below stage)
- Vamp means keep playing the same section over until the Conductor signals you to keep going – this accommodates dialog or other things taking longer than usual
- Learning the tunes from an original cast recording is an excellent start – but you miss a lot of the little connecting pieces that go under dialog or between scene changes
- Playing to a Conductor is tricky, doubly so if you’ve only ever really worked to a click or a live drummer
- Being able to sight read would make things a fair bit easier…
- In Ear Monitoring with a professional rig and individual mix controls is amazing
- There really are some cracker songs from back in the 80’s
If you have the opportunity to get involved in a show, I commend it to you.
To my fellow RoA Company members and, particularly, my Bandmates – my heartfelt thanks. It’s been a joy :)