Here I am…entering my 35th year…my “Presidential Year”…Yes, that’s right, folks. Be worried, I can now officially run for President of the United States!
More than that, it has been a year of a lot of unexpected twists and turns in work. Lots of “business” work, unrelated to music, but still interesting and challenging. Also lots of musicals. In fact, I think this may have been THE Year of the Musical.
First show was “Midsummer Night” at the Modern Theatre with Suffolk University. I played electric violin for this rock musical/opera adaptation of Shakespeare’s A MidSummer Night’s Dream. As is typical on these types of shows, I was the only girl in the band, but that didn’t matter. The guys were all great players (mostly Berklee grads, like myself). And the Musical Director was none other than the fantastic Scott Nicholas, whom I have worked with through the Tenors and my own projects – always a pleasure, sir!
Next was “The Weaver of Raveloe,” which was presented at the small blackbox theater space in Harvard Square called the Oberon. This was another new show, this time an adaptation of the novel “Silas Marner,” by George Eliot. This was an ambitious work composed and written (lyrics and book) by Erica Glenn, much in the style of a dramatic musical, such as Les Miserables. The cast were fantastic, and again the orchestra were eager and a pleasure to work with (although I certainly felt “older” in this pit than in Midsummer Night, where the band were age-wise my contemporaries!), and directed by the wonderful Sarah Houghton.
And, after these, came Finding Neverland. And what an experience it has been, Finding Neverland! I have been privileged enough to work with the best of the best in the musical theater world, including Diane Paulus, Mia Michaels, and of course Harvey Weinstein. Do I get to work with this people individually? No – that is left to the actors and the production team. But watching the way they work and how it influences the people around them has been truly fascinating.
More related to my work on this musical has been the music – written by UK pop star Gary Barlow and record producer Eliot Kennedy. The musical supervisor is David Chase, whose ear is unmatchable. The orchestrations are by Simon Hale, and are some of the most enjoyable parts I have seen written for any shows lately. Every instrument in the pit has an engaging, musical part to play – not least, of course, my violin part! The playing styles range from English Baroque to Beatles to lush romanticism to 70s and 80s pop to pirate tango (yes!!) to slightly surreal…46 shows into this run, and I haven’t gotten bored yet!
At the helm, leading our musical madness is Mary-Mitchell Campbell. Again, I have learned so much just watching her leadership skills – ah, yes, honey catches much more flies than vinegar! Not only is she a world class musician and conductor, she is also patient and understanding, a pleasure to be around – oh, and she runs an amazing global charity called ASTEP. Yes, musicians, take heed – you can run an organization AND still play music! (To the top level, nonetheless!)
So…29 more shows to go, then it is onto the next musical wilderness.
However, that wilderness – at least for a few months – will be more of my own making. Time for Tara to start writing some new material again! Ciaran and I have a few concerts in September, October, and November (which I will be posting about soon) – and I want some new repertoire for those. I also have some ideas brimming around the back of my head for a possible new album…time to tease out some of those ideas!
Apologies for the long, blathering blog post – it has been too long since I updated this, and there was much to share (and much I have missed as well).
A Very Happy Autumn to you all, and hope to see you soon at a show or concert!