Friday, October 14, 2005

Diary of a Music Director - Part I: "Annie"

The first week - actually, only two days - of "Annie" rehearsals are over. For those of you who might be curious, we've now gone over about 3/4 of all the songs in the show.

The way that it works is certain members of the cast come to the rehearsal at different times and I go through each some with them. I teach them the notes if they need it, work out parts, and generally work out the tone and feel of each song. In the case of soloists, we work together to find the easiest way to sing certain passages or work on breathing and phrasing. A big problem doing music in East Tennessee is the dad-gum Southern hills accent we have here. It's more prominent in women than men, that I can tell, and is tough to work around.

(Basically, the "ahs", "oohs," and "ehs" are very flat and drawn out, to create a drawl. Since few musicals outside of L'il Abner are set in the South, it's very noticeable when you hear some young East Tennessee girl sing, "To-Mahr-ah, To-MAHR-ah, ah'll love ya, To-Mahr-ah...." I have to get them to consciously round their "ohs" and make more pure sounds. I'm sure this is just terribly interesting to everyone :) But it's something I have to work with folks on.)

We also work through the big company numbers, assigning individual parts to members of the chorus and working on dynamics and such.

I'm lucky, because "Annie" is a fairly straightforward, simple musical. The music's fun, but not complicated and we knocked it out pretty quickly.

One section features an Andrews Sisters-esqu trio that will probably be the toughest thing we work on, due to the tight harmonies. But even after just working yesterday and today, the trio of young women is about 75% of the way there. They just need to be familiar with it, and confident. It's a kick watching and helping people learn music, mold it and eventually make it their own. I love it.

So next week we'll finish the learning process and review with memorization. Then blocking will be ready to start.

-- To Be Continued

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