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Weird "show" gigs

Discussion in 'Bass Humor & Gig Stories [BG]' started by Murf, Mar 28, 2001.

  1. Murf


    Mar 28, 2001
    Thought I'd open this thread to see if anyone has had any experiences/anecdotes about being a "pit" musician for musicals ie Greece, Cats etc. etc.
    my most memorable experience was a few years ago while In the pit for Guys and Dolls in a real "trendy ultra modern" theater..it was so "trendy" that it didnt occur to anybody to actually have anyplace for the bleedin orchestra to go..so we actually ended up on top of one of the sets at the BACK OF THE STAGE.. and when I say on top I mean we had to climb up a rickety stainless steel ladder to get to our positions (read..a few planks of wood across a scaffold) and if this indignity wasnt enough halfway through the first number the bloody smoke machine goes off (which incidentally was positioned right behind us)..cue choking orchestra crashing onto the stage and demolishing two sets on our way.

    From then on we were on the floor IN FRONT of the stage and out of harms way..
  2. Well, the musical that 2 of my teachers are writing has my band playing live music almost constantly throughout the piece, even if it is just some soft background music to set the mood. One of the songs is titled "A Love Song", and another is called "Romantic Underscore" and another one still is called "D Song". But the BEST of them all... "Bass Riff" :D:D:D
    Anyway, we were told today, directly, that we are the backbone of the piece, and a lot of the kids in the cast are slacking off and not going to rehearsals because they think "If those year 12 guys don't have to be here, why do we?" So now we're clamping down on rehearsals, and really getting into it.
    Also, we've pretty much got the entire upstage area to ourselves. Some rehearsals might not go so well no, but the performance is in May, so if all goes well, it can be guaranteed to be one hell of a show! :D
  3. I was playing in a small orchestra (7 or 8 pieces) do "Godspell" * insert latent gagging and retching sounds here*. We were set up to the side of- but on- stage. As the character of John the Baptist enters, he runs in from the back of the theater thru the audience, and up onto the stage "baptizing" people. He had a 5 gallon bucket with about 2 gallons of water in it, and he would dip his hand in and splash a few drops on people.
    Well, guess what the dolt did the 3rd or 4th night? Yep, he came up on stage and doused the band. I was using a mid 60s Bassman head (this was '76 or so). That poor Fender took about a gallon of water, and lit up like he had used gasoline. I was sure I was going to be fried along with the amp, throw my bass down and the place goes nuts laughing thinking that it was part of the show. He keeps going with the show, and the band is jumping around and stops playing. Someone unplugged it, and after a few seconds, the rest of the band starts back up.
    I picked my bass up and stormed offstage. The chick directing it comes over and starts screaming at me about my "unprofessionalism"! I grabbed my smokin', smelly amp and tossed it in my car and split.
    Fortunately, it was only a matter of replacing one tube and something else but the amp survived.

    My dinner theater career did not. O well.
  4. I do quite a bit of pit work and in live theatre there is always a chance for something crazy to happen. I've had actors fall from the stage onto the musicians, dry ice blow into the pit and detune instruments, the power strip for the pit lighting blow... The strangest thing happened during a dinner theatre gig I used to do. This theatre had quite a few seniors tours show up. Many of them would take advantage of the bar while they were away from the supervision of their families. One evening right in the front a man stood up, vomited on the table and passed out.(the musicians were on stage and part of the show so I could see all this happen) The actor on stage finished his number and I received a message from the director to play some instrumental "jazz" until the ambulance arrives. The piano player was a very dark individual and started calling tunes like "Don't get around much anymore" "St James Infirmery" and an Oscar Peterson tune called "He has gone"! The paramedics came in, put him on a stretcher with oxygen and then off to the hospital. We picked up the show were it left off. Very strange. BTW, it turns out the man was fine, he had just eaten and drank too much.
  5. jcadmus


    Apr 2, 2000
    I did "Bye Bye Birdie" the summer after I got out of high school, which was a buttload of fun.

    Funny stuff -- the actor playing and singing the part of Conrad Birdie (if you know the play -- an Elvis-like singer) was a total dorkbrain with no sense of time, who couldn't carry a tune in a bucket. And what made it worse was we couldn't HEAR him, and he didn't LISTEN to us, so it was anybody's guess how any of his solo tunes would go.

    Must have sat through that play two dozen times, including rehearsals and performances. Knew every line by heart.

    Funny thing, the local high school did the same play last weekend and I took my two older kids to see it (at their request). I still know every line.
  6. Murf


    Mar 28, 2001
    Or the time we did "Greece" the musical with the character playing Danny looking/acting the part to perfection but singing like a goose farting in a fog which meant ole mucker here had to sing his parts for him of course on the last night of the show we sort of over indulged in the interval beverages so when it came for him to sing "Teddy Bear" (yeah I know its not in the original..there was some "artistic license" taken )..his mouth was miming "I just wanna beeeee... your Teddy Bear" the audience heard "I just wanna be...your pubic hair..."

    Oh how we laughed..just as well we'd already been paid and it was the last night...

    (Grossly unprofessional..but hey I was young and it seemed like the thing to do at the time)

  7. Like it or not, Godspell is what put a bass back in my hands. A few years back I sold all my guitars so we could buy a new house (a Maslow thing, really). A couple months ago the local highschool music guy mentioned they were doing Godspell. I mentioned I played bass in that show when I was in highschool. All of a sudden I had a job playing bass.

    I borrowed my uncle's bass, re-learned the show, and had the best time playing. Partly because the whole production had a great laid-back feel, and partly because the other musicians (just piano, drums, guitar) were cool and liked to jam. Every night we did something different for intermission and to close out the show.

    Of course, one hit and I'm hooked again. Bought a bass before I even got paid for the show, and now I'm looking for an amp. My wife is sighing, remembering the good old days ;)

  8. Murf


    Mar 28, 2001
    Why does everybody knock Godspell?? I've done the show 6 times over the years and out of all the shows I've done Its the one I love playing the most the basslines are great and if you have a good rhythm section you can really stretch out (I always remeber one of the best drummers I've ever had the pleasure to gig with laying down a thundering tom part during Oh bless the lord my soul and scaring the bejesus out of the audience), not to mention "Light of the world" goddamn thats perfect for Jaco (come on come over) type finger funk or a Bootsy wobbly slap line.
  9. Thanks Murf :)

    I'm glad someone else actually enjoys playing Godspell. It's not my first choice for a gig, but it's the one that has taught me the most. . . and paid the most too.

    Yah Light of the World is a blast. Ever played w/a keyboard player who could do it right? I've only tried two, but neither (including a VERY good one) could handle it. I think it must be an ergonomic thing where they can't punch the chords right on time or something, but they always make it sound so square. . . the pickup notes are too long, and it doesn't really swing. But it's a great tune to end the 1st act, plus opens the way for (insert fave jam piece here) during intermission. We did Purple Haze, Voodoo Chile, and Come Together, different nights).

    Also really enjoyed "Bless the Lord" since this last show had a GREAT vocalist belting it out (preacher's daughter).

    I hope sometime I'll get to play bass in some other musicals. Boosts the reading skills and encourages flexibility/paying attention/good ensemble.

  10. I actually played guitar in a Godspell play years ago and had a great time. I was playing in a rock band at the time and invited all my bandmates to a show. As I recall, most of the cool guitar stuff was actually in the second set and, as it turned out, my bandmates barily made it past the first set and left at intermission. Oh well.:D

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