Saturday, March 31, 2012

From Composer to Music Director

When we finished writing the music for The Ballad of Dido a few weeks ago, I wanted to sigh in relief and take a nap. However, then I remembered that next, as music director, I have to teach the cast the music. And also figure out how all the transitional "music plays under" cues will work...which is a pretty tricky issue of timing!

Oh, and I also have a few lines to learn. And by a few, I mean kind of a lot. These characters get very verbose and eloquent at times.

But somehow, everything seems to be coming together. It's been a long time since I've worked on a show with a cast that was this enthusiastic about the project. Everyone involved brings different strengths, and everyone is working incredibly hard to shore up their weaknesses. It actually surprises me to work on a song, then come back to review it a week later and find that everyone remembers what we did. They remember what instrument they're playing and what they're supposed to play, they remember what they're singing, they even remember the words (except, of course, the words that Tony and I continue revising)!

So here we are, about three weeks from opening, and I keep getting more excited--about the music, the script, the story, the cast, and my role. I've never heard of a show like this: a roots musical. Especially not one based on a story taken from classical literature. I always know I'm excited about a show when I start asking strangers to come see it, and yesterday, while buying guitar strings, I started talking it up to the owners of the local music store.This morning I told all my friends at the Harrisonburg Farmer's Market about it (the guy who sells me local honey actually wrote down the date of our Staunton show--which, if you'd like to do the same now, is April 26th at the Darjeeling Cafe).

I actually am starting to feel like we might be ahead of schedule (in theater? how can that be? surely I'm forgetting something!). We've worked through many of the scenes with the music, including all the really complicated ones, and everyone has the chord charts and the recordings so they can work on their own--and I know they will. So, composition: done. Music direction: done.

Now if I can just memorize all these lines...

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