Lovebugs and Playground Thugs

Lovebugs and Playground Thugs Kilmaurs Young Farmers 2015With less than a week to go with the sell out show (no pressure) we’ve got the Kilmaurs Young Farmers Lovebugs and Playground Thugs. Different from your average Christmas panto…. In fact it’s nothing like your average Christmas panto.

It’s typical with these things. We had our first production meeting about 6 months ago thinking we’ve got ALL the time in the world and now it’s close I wish I had more time.

This is the first time I’ve worked with this group and it’s been great so far. Of course, the downside to this is not knowing the limits of the chorus and it’s fair to say I could’ve pushed them harder. The harmonies, smaller choirs, backing vocals and like were all swallowed up without any problems. It’s a shame because there’s always that feeling the the bar could have been raised higher in the time we had.

Don’t get me wrong though. The show is going to be great. However, if I get the chance to work with them again I know that more can be done.

Without posting anything specific about what’s in the show here’s an idea of what is coming. We have 3 scenes that contain music, dancing and some comedic dialogue. There are 2 smaller choir sections too and the rest is filled out with comedy sketches. All of the dialogue and dancing is made up by the production team so it’s all original material.

I haven’t heard any of the sketches yet but I’m sure I will once the dress rehearsals start. It’s a looooooong week coming up but I can’t wait to get the band in and start hearing it all put together.

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Sweet Charity

Sweet Charity Theatre Guild GlasgowI should really have posted about this a while ago but with the Kilmaurs Young Farmers gig coming up in just over a week I’ve been swamped with putting together music and organising the band.

All in all Sweet Charity was an interesting week. On the day of band call I was given the conductors score/piano part and asked to fill in as many missing instruments as possible. It was a great exercise, trying to pick out what I thought were the most required instruments to fill the gaps as best I could.

The additional challenge to this was I don’t think I played the same thing twice over the period of the week. Every night I came across another line that I though would be better suited to the song than the previous night.

The bold David Fisher was the musical director for the show and he did a great job according to the Glasgow Theatre Blog review. They commented on the fact that Sweet Charity as a show was showing signs of aging because it’s stuck in a transitional period for style in the theatre. However Charity Hope Valentine, played by Lisa Dutch, was done extremely well and the quote for the music was

“Praise must go to the band too, who are on fine form, sounding sprightly and on point throughout.”

Can’t complain about that!

Unfortunately for me, we were in the deep pit at the theatre and my back was to the show so I only heard and saw none of it. However, the pit crew were on form. Plenty of homemade tablet to see us through and Chris Cruickshank, the bass player, posting selfies over the period of the week.

David Fisher is going to do his first Kings Theatre performance early in 2016 with 9 to 5. I wish him, and David Edwards, luck in this iconic venue.

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Evita With the Largs Operatic

An Amateur production by arrangement with The Really Useful Group Ltd.Legal stuff 1st

Evita, lyrics by Tim Rice, music by Andrew Lloyd Webber. An amateur production by arrangement by The really Useful Group Ltd


After getting back into playing music again via the medium of Half a Sixpence with the Largs Operatic I’ve been asked back to help the somewhat bold David Edwards with this years production of Evita. Yes, the one that used Madonna and the Don’t Cry for Me Argentina song.

There are two parts to this for me. The first is assisting David with rehearsals which will initially involve splitting the chorus into men and woman. I’ve been tasked with making sure the gentleman singers (although I think we have one lady tenor) know what they’re doing.

The big difference between Evita and Half a Sixpence is dialogue. There is hardly any in Evita so it’s going to be a real test of endurance for the chorus. Not only that, the musical is extremely technically challenging involving very contemporary choral passages mixed with rock style music too, and the time signatures are nothing short of perverted. I think the most twisted time signature we had in Half a Sixpence was 3/4. Evita regularly chops and changes between 10/8, 5/8 and whatever else comes to mind.

Coming from a percussive background I love this stuff but it could be tricky to teach, if that’s even required. After spending some time on Requiem the time signatures are really only going to affect the orchestra and give the conductor a headache because the words just move along at a steady pace.

Another thing I really like about the piano/vocal score is that even though it’s condensed it carries with it a load of chord symbols. If there’s something I’ve learned over the last year it’s that the chorus aren’t interested in me tying my fingers up in an attempt to sound flamboyant, they just need something that sounds in tune and keeps their rhythm in order. Condensed scores can be a nightmare to work with, requiring 12 fingers at some stages. More companies should pay attention to Evita and put more chord symbols in.

The second, and best part, of Evita for me is that I’m playing percussion in the show. The great thing about modern musicals is that percussion plays an integral part to the sound a feel of the production. The sad thing is, a lot of directors would bump the percussionist to save some money on the budget which is a shame.

Here’s an example of some of the Afro-carribean awesomeness from the 1st act of Evita

Can’t Wait!

Once the Kilmaurs Young Farmers gig is over I’ll need to start loosening up the old wrists by tuning up the congas and keeping everyone awake at night.

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