This week we quiz our Musical director and pick her brain about her role with Encore!
What is your name?
What is your role and what does that involve?
I am the Musical Director for Encore Theatre Company which involves me learning the musical numbers on piano, teaching the songs to the cast and working with the band in preparation for the main shows or pantomimes.
How long have you been involved with Encore Theatre Company?
I have now worked with Encore for 11 years.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
It’s difficult to answer this question as the songs are written already. I generally end up re-writing some songs and 9 times out of 10 I will add harmony to the melody lines. I guess I am inspired more when it comes to harmony and I usually experiment when I have the cast in front of me. Where does the inspiration come from? It may seem strange but from a young age I have been able to hear many instruments in my head and this helps me to write harmony easily. I suppose that it helps that from a young age I played piano, recorder, violin, guitar and keyboard.
What has been your favourite show with Encore and why?
My favourite shows are the ones that I can experiment with harmony! ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ has got to be in the top 3 and I enjoyed conducting ‘Annie’. The most challenging one to play and conduct was ‘Carousel’.
Do you choose the songs for the panto and how do you decide which to use?
Choosing the songs for the panto is usually a mutual decision between the choreographer, director and musical director. We try to include some songs that are recent. The difficult part is trying to find songs that fit with the scene. The opening and finale numbers are the hardest to decide especially if they lead into a market scene (there are only so many times we can sing ‘Who will Buy’).
Which part of Sleeping Beauty are you most looking forward to?
I enjoy the week of the show, especially the band call. It’s great going to the theatre and seeing the lights and set and special effects that we use.
Can you recall a particularly memorable stage event that you contributed to?
I only contribute with the band so, my memorable event is probably been in my tree house! It’s rather cosy up in the gods with ten musicians next to many spot lights! The funniest thing is that every year my TV monitor gets bigger and bigger which takes up more room!
Which do you prefer? Working on a panto or the summer show and why?
I prefer the panto, it’s more light-hearted and we have a laugh putting panto together. Some shows are fun but I like to decide on the musical numbers and we can experiment more.
What do you enjoy most about being part of Encore Theatre Company?
Encore put on fantastic shows and work hard together. It’s a bit more personal for me because I get to see my mum too! It’s great to see that the society is growing in members and we have a good following from the public!
What else to you get up to when you’re not working in theatre?
Music, music, music! I teach National Curriculum, vocals and piano to nursery up to A ‘level to children around Leeds. I am also the vocal coordinator for the Leeds music service ‘Artforms’ which covers the schools in Leeds. I spend time arranging and composing music for vocal groups and orchestras and writing my own material, some of which links to the National Curriculum topics taught in lessons.
Can you name a best and worst moment during a show?
My worst moment has got to be playing piano for a small cabaret that we were doing and I was playing piano for the ‘Fiddler’ section. I had stuck all the music together (60 plus pages) and they fell off the stand like a domino effect. I had to make up half the music and didn’t have a clue what I was doing!! The cast kept singing and you could see the horror in their faces! A nice audience member picked up the music for me, bearing in mind it was all stuck together! Eventually I got back on track! The positive from this story is that my fellow MD friend said ‘It was worth the money to see you fighting with lots of music!’.
The best moment has got to be the applause from the audience and hearing the positive comments about the society. I get a buzz from the finale of the pantomime when everybody claps and cheers and it makes be proud of everybody on stage! It’s a great atmosphere!
Can you describe Sleeping Beauty in 3 words?
Humorous! Energetic! Magical! (I couldn’t think of a third word :0/)
Thank you Sarah for answering all of our questions!