This week I’ve had the pleasure of playing for Selsig Operatic Society’s production of The Producers - directed by Matthew Preece and with Nathan Jones conducting the mammoth nineteen-piece band, I played keys for what was essentially a chamber big band!
Having been stick waving rather than playing recently it’s been a great change of pace and a completely different challenge to take on. The music, primarily composed by John Morris, is a wonderful blend of jazz and Yiddish influences, resulting in a sort of klezmer Gene Krupa.
While I was used to playing with drums and bass, an unexpected treat was to be sitting close to a full five-piece wind section, each playing around 3 or 4 instruments. I’d forgotten how great it is to play with such an instrumentally diverse pit band - for Evita we had nine instruments, with three keyboards providing the majority of the palette. It was great to be in a pit band where the bulk of the sound came from real instruments, though a particular favourite moment of the run was the dirty look I got from the percussionist every night whenever I had to play a digital marimba part!
The production itself was stellar, greeted by standing ovations by the Treorchy audience on each performance. Having never set foot in the Park and Dare theatre before I was blown away by the architecture in the venue - really beautiful tiered seating, great stage and the most informative lift I’ve ever used (which you’ll need to use to find out more!). It should also be said that the sound tech (Gav) was superb; many audience members let me know that the actors were always audible over our huge acoustic mess.
It was an honour to contribute to such a professional amatuer ensemble; Selsig are yet another company lifting the standards of Musical Theatre productions in South Wales, and I look forward to their next production!