Musical Director - Personals
by Matthew Brown
I was the music director for the completely student-produced musical, “Personals.” My responsibilities began in the rehearsal process, coaching singers and helping the cast learn all the songs. Working with singers in this way was a new and valuable experience for me. We had cast members with diverse musical backgrounds. There was a lot of music to learn, but we worked very hard and all the singers sounded marvelous on opening night.
I used the King grant to hire musicians to play during the performances. The budget enabled me to put together a group of only professional musicians and students with exceptional ability and experience. The band consisted of piano, drums, bass guitar, flute, alto and tenor saxophone and clarinet. The musical numbers were in various styles, including blues, dixieland jazz, rock and funk, among others. I rehearsed the band twice before getting them together with the singers for the dress rehearsals. In these preliminary rehearsals it was often just a matter of running a number once and briefly talking about the changes. These were the most efficient and immediately successful rehearsals I have ever directed, due to the professional nature of the group.
This experience culminated in four packed performances of the musical in Alma Thomas Theater. This was a thrilling time for me, and required that I constantly be on my toes; listening for vocal cues, setting new tempos, jumping the band to different sections of the music at the right time, and even singing a cameo line during one of the songs. Everyone involved was well prepared, so the shows went very smoothly, and the audiences absolutely loved it each night.
“Personals” was a project of great scope, accomplished by tremendous effort from many people directed toward many tasks. I am glad that I was a part of it all and able to do what I could to make it the huge success that it was.