Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Taking Stock

Quick summary: I'm playing for summer theatre at a playhouse in northern Ohio*. Time has blurred together and I have no idea what day it is. Since arriving we've had auditions for the first two musicals and a play (two shows left to audition). They cast the shows yesterday, and rehearsals began this morning. Our rehearsal schedule is 8:30-11:30, 1:30-4:30, 7:00-10:00, w/meals and sleep tucked in between. I've been prepping two shows, "Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?" and an Irving Berlin revue called "The Melody Lingers On."

There are different challenges with each score. Black Leather is a (partially legible) handwritten score with several rock numbers, several swung numbers, and some church music references. The large group number harmonies get confusing, so I've taken to color-coded highlighting of different voice parts for easier reading. We start the Irving Berlin this afternoon. There is no show CD (although there is a CD called "The Melody Lingers On" - that's not it), so I've researched youtube, itunes and emusic for pianists who play Berlin with the right feel. So far I've liked: Willie "The Lion" Smith's version of Alexander's Ragtime Band and William Bolcom/Joan Morris' Berlin CD Blue Skies. The score has a lot of boom-chick writing (as in quarter notes LH-RH-LH-RH), so its up to me to 'fill it in'.

I love summer programs like this - everyone is committed to what they are doing, rehearsals are focused and I get a lot of practice time when I'm not in rehearsals. Lately I've been practicing a lot of stride piano, which is getting easier (slowly) and also different scales (pentatonic, etc). Other than that, I have a 24-hour gym nearby, free room and board, and library computer privileges. More randomness: because this is Biker Week, there have been nonstop influx of men on hogs.

*There are no gay midgets named Karl.


Geraldine said...

It sounds like you're having a great time! I totally thought of the Last five years when I read the title of your post, so it made me laugh that you mentioned it at the end of your post! Is the first show you are doing a first production? It would be cool if you could make a cd of it and share some with us!

Vashti said...

Sounds like a fun summer!
For stride you might consider: Teddy Wilson (all time awesome)! And more recent examples - Mark Shane and Dick Hyman.

Jim Williams said...

Actually . . . we are getting a gay midget named Karl for "State Fair" . . . . did you not get the memo? He'll be doing a keyboard number that is a cross between Victor Borge and Liberace . . . thought we might spice up the production a bit . . . I'm sure we cleared it with you in the production meetings . . .

Billie Whittaker said...

Thanks for your comments! I apologize for the silence, but I've been a touch preoccupied. I will definitely update soon. It has also been called to my attention that 'gay midget named Karl' references may confuse people (my mother included). So here is the full song, A Summer in Ohio. My summer is going infinitely better than hers.