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Theater Gig

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by tonedeaf, Sep 20, 2005.

  1. tonedeaf

    tonedeaf Supporting Member

    Earlier this year (February) I took a job playing in a local production of "Oklahoma". It was a great experience. I honed my reading skills, learned to play under direction and with stage cues, and branched out stylistically. I also learned a bunch from the other musicians (piano, drums, trumpet, and violin) who were all very accomplished musicians.

    Worked out so well I'm doing it again. Dress rehearsals for "The All Night Strut" start this Sunday. It's a musical revue of swing/pop music from the World War II era. The band is smaller (piano, bass and drums), so everybody's playing has to be on -- there's no place to hide.

    There are about 17 songs (I say "about" because stuff is being cut and added all the time), most of which call for walking lines on at least part of the song. This is a new idiom for me, and it's been a great learning experience. Playing written walking lines is a great way to learn how they're put together. Lots of songs in lots of different keys, usually with 2 or 3 key changes per song, just adds to the challenge and the education.

    This is a second case of me taking on a job that is probably a little above my skill level that forces me to work hard on reading, technique, timing, and listening to the stage performers and other musicians. I can't think of a better way to improve, and I highly recommend taking on a challenging job to anyone looking for motivation to practice in a lot of areas.
  2. Congrats on getting the chair for "All Night Strut". I played that show three years ago. I wasn't familiar with most of the tunes in it, but they are all old standard pop tunes for people who grew up in the 40's and 50's. Good tunes, too. "White Cliffs of Dover", "I'll Be Seeing You", "Minnie the Moocher", and more.

    We did it with piano, bass, drums and a sax. The drummer was a high school kid who didn't quite get the music, for some reason, :rolleyes: but was passable. The sax player was, well, bad. The pianist/MD was excellent, so he and I did the show, basically.

    Anyway, the score is well written, and you can do okay just by playing the straight bass part. I added my own notes and lines here and there, but the score parts were okay 90% of the time.

    Are you playing upright or electric?

    If you have any specific questions about the show, give me a yell..

    What venue is this? The MTI website says SHILOH THEATRICAL PRODUCTIONS... is that it? If so, wow, they have a nice season coming up- "Sweet Charity", "Big River", and "Oliver!" Go for all of those and good luck!!

    I played "Oklahoma" back in 1994. It's not bad as one of the first shows a theatre bassist takes on. However, once is plenty. I wouldn't do it again unless the money was really good. It's such a corny show!

    I am really glad you are getting into playing theatre productions. That's been a lot of my performances for the past 10 years. They are a lot of fun to do, especially if the production is well-run and cast.

    I second your statements about how playing theatre shows can improve the skill set of any gigging bassist. Ed Friedland still plays a lot of theatre shows, and he'll be the first to say they are generally good gigs.

    One of the things I like the most is NO SMOKING in the audience!!
  3. tonedeaf

    tonedeaf Supporting Member

    Yep, Shiloh is who I'm working for on this one. Definitely looking forward to doing more with them and another local company, the one that did Oklahoma. Shiloh is kind of a community theater setup, pays as few people as possible (the musicians are all getting paid for this show, the singers are volunteer - that doesn't mean they're not good), but the other company is all paid professionals.

    I am playing electric. I considered upright, but my upright chops are not quite up to par yet, especially intonation with all the accidentals and key changes. I could probably play upright on about a third of the songs and do okay, but I'd rather get better before I take that on.

    I got some LaBella tapewounds and some foam to put under the strings of my Fender Jazz, which doesn't really make it sound like an upright, but does give it a more old school vibe that fits in with the genre passably well.

    The piano player/musical director for this show is very accomplished, and I've played with him and the drummer in a variety of musical settings, so we have pretty good chemistry. That helps a lot. The drummer is good too, he can read the parts, which is important for this show because of all the rhythmic hits and so forth. The three of us have gotten together and rehearsed a few times, and we're having fun.

    I am mostly playing the straight written parts, but I throw in my own interpretations here and there.

    The most difficult songs for me so far are "Fascinating Rhythm" because it's so fast in parts, and the two Finales just because they change keys and feels quite a bit, but I'm getting them nailed down.