Author Topic: MUSICALS: a musical  (Read 7843 times)

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groovygert

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MUSICALS: a musical
« on: Mar 21, 2006, 02:23 pm »
i've worked backstage and onstage for musicals and have stage managers more shows than i can count, but i've never stagemanaged a musical. not really. any advise?
« Last Edit: Jun 08, 2009, 11:10 pm by PSMKay »

Mac Calder

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« Reply #1 on: Mar 21, 2006, 05:16 pm »
Tip one - if you cannot read music, learn

Tip two - leading ladies are (9/10 times) fairly easy to deal with (not your typical primadonna), however leading men are often a bitch.

Tip three - keep tech running. Musicals are notorious for slow techs - part of the blame lies on the musos, the rest lies on the fact that a LOT of scenes start and end with large concophonies of sound (aka a song) making your life hell when trying to get attention. My advice would be to ask that only two or three members of each 'section' sing, so that there are never 20 or so voices singing at the one time, just a handfull.

Tip four - a sitzprobe is nearly essential (you can cut it if you are running behind). Try and make time for it, so that the actors can really hear what is accompanying them, singing to a rehearsal pianist is a lot different to singing to a band or orchestra.

groovygert

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« Reply #2 on: Mar 21, 2006, 06:22 pm »
sitzprobe is?

ReyYaySM

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« Reply #3 on: Mar 21, 2006, 06:44 pm »
A sitz probe is a full company sing through with the orchestra.  It gives everyone an idea of what the show is going to sound like and is generally a fairly low pressure event (at least that's been my experience).

Mac Calder

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« Reply #4 on: Mar 21, 2006, 07:12 pm »
Quote from: "dramachic5191"
A sitz probe is a full company sing through with the orchestra.  It gives everyone an idea of what the show is going to sound like and is generally a fairly low pressure event (at least that's been my experience).


Very low preasure. no costumes, makeup, technical elements, just a sing along. The simplest way to run one, gather the cast on stage, and just let the MD do his thing. The only thing you really need to do, is make sure the MD does not stop to correct mistakes. If the MD starts treating it as a technical rehearsal for the band/cast integration, things will never get done. If they are really worried, send an ASM into the pit with a notepad and pen to take notes when he gives them.

smejs

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« Reply #5 on: Mar 21, 2006, 09:33 pm »
Actually, if you can get the sound crew involved in sitzprobe, the actors can get used to where their mics are placed (forehead or lapel for example), and the sound crew can get a slight headsup on how the show sounds.  The actor can even just carry the mic pack rather than strapping it on...and you can have another day to prepare for the "oh, we don't have enough mic pack belts/hair bands/insert item here."

Erin

isha

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« Reply #6 on: Mar 21, 2006, 09:37 pm »
1: Get help!!!! you can't do a large scale musical without 2 asms.....(in my opinion)

2: Find a way to integrate your music into your blocking script. With the show I just closed it was very frustrating when the choreo or director would use measure numbers or letters as they were giving blocking... and it's just too hard to follow a page that looks like this

Altos  _________ Basses: ______Tenors: ____albert:____ sop.:
goin steady ____  yeah you ___do do dum____ oh- ______mmmmmm..
goin steady! ____ know _______deeee______  -     ______mmmm...
steady _________it maaannn           dooo____HONEY ____ooooooo...

even if you are not very good at reading music, with songs that have 3 or 4 different things going on at the same time it is easier to read from the music (even if you are only following the words)

(I finally copied the music and did a cool fold-ing thing to integrate the music into my script but made it in such a way that I could instantly skip to the next page, or only use the script if for that day my purposes were such that I needed to see the words printed instead of music.)

3: Also, I think musicals are just harder in general: more elements to fit in, more set changes, more light/sound cues, 100 times more mic cues, bigger cast, more directors/management to deal with (you have the md, choreo, director, etc.) it just seems like there is MORE of everything....

hope it helps...
-isha
~isha

smejs

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« Reply #7 on: Mar 21, 2006, 09:50 pm »
Other things...

1. Inevitably in a musical, when it comes to a song, people are looking at three different versions of it - the normal script, the conductor's score, and the vocal book (usually in the back of a script, with only the singing parts).  Take the time to create a chart for yourself of all pertinent info you can quickly access.  I usually put a column first with the song number (orchestra members will flip to #5 or #10a for example), then the Song Title, script page, vocal book page, and score page.  I also like to include which characters are in the number, too, for another quick reference.  Saves a LOT of time as people jump from song to song, to keep everyone on track.

2. With musicals moreso than other shows, I find it extremely useful to make a chart of which people are on for exactly which pages, not just by scene, to facilitate costume changes - especially when someone changes an entire character (bit parts for the chorus, I'm thinking).

Erin

Mac Calder

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« Reply #8 on: Mar 21, 2006, 10:53 pm »
Quote from: "isha"
1: Get help!!!! you can't do a large scale musical without 2 asms.....(in my opinion)


That is a good point which I overlooked. And if you have a chorus that needs to change 'charactors' quickly (most musicals do) you need another few people to help with quick changes and get the next change set up.

Quote
2: Find a way to integrate your music into your blocking script. With the show I just closed it was very frustrating when the choreo or director would use measure numbers or letters as they were giving blocking... and it's just too hard to follow a page that looks like this

Altos  _________ Basses: ______Tenors: ____albert:____ sop.:
goin steady ____  yeah you ___do do dum____ oh- ______mmmmmm..
goin steady! ____ know _______deeee______  -     ______mmmm...
steady _________it maaannn           dooo____HONEY ____ooooooo...

even if you are not very good at reading music, with songs that have 3 or 4 different things going on at the same time it is easier to read from the music (even if you are only following the words)

(I finally copied the music and did a cool fold-ing thing to integrate the music into my script but made it in such a way that I could instantly skip to the next page, or only use the script if for that day my purposes were such that I needed to see the words printed instead of music.)


There are a number of ways to do it, and it is certainly something you will have to look into when you start making your book. A lot depends on how the music is writen - for example, some musicals have a lot of songs where multiple parts are sung over each other (RENT is the one that comes to mind here). When I did that (just finished.. love it), I re-wrote the entire vocal score, so that I had one line for each different 'tune' (ie if there are three different sets of lyrics, there are three staves) and different vocal ranges were done on the same stave. If there was a lead singing the line, I annotated that fact, if it was chorus, I noted that too. The folded/concertina prompt book is a great way to do it. That way, you can have the facing page with just written lyrics, then fold out to have the score

Quote
3: Also, I think musicals are just harder in general: more elements to fit in, more set changes, more light/sound cues, 100 times more mic cues, bigger cast, more directors/management to deal with (you have the md, choreo, director, etc.) it just seems like there is MORE of everything....


AMEN!

groovygert

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« Reply #9 on: Mar 21, 2006, 11:29 pm »
crew isn't my major concern right now. i had planned on two asm's. our wardrobe head is fabulous. i don't read notes so well, but i read music as a percussionist/drummer. (i have some vocal background.) i'm just rying to get some prep in. THANKS.:-)

Killer

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« Reply #10 on: Mar 22, 2006, 02:49 am »
This is great for me ... I'm in the middle of my first musical (The Threepenny Opera).  We head into tech in about two weeks.

Musicals being harder has definately been my experience thus far.  I'm used to a cast of about 10-15, but right now I've got 26.  That alone has taken some getting used to.  Throw in a (diva) music director and a choreographer & I'm about ready to start eating Tylenol with every meal.  Also, I've got flys & follow spot in this production, which I've never called before, so that has me a little nervous (flys more than follow spot).  

Could someone please explain the fold out method of the prompt book?  I struggled for weeks trying to figure out how to integrate script & music & finally just gave up.

Mac Calder

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« Reply #11 on: Mar 22, 2006, 03:06 am »
Well the way it works, is instead of using A4 paper, you use A3 paper, in landscape. You rule a margin about 3 cm from the left edge, and fold the right edge into the margin. You then end up with a double spread inside, and a single facing page as well. The concertina 'thing' is basically the same, you trim down the extra pages, about 3cm each (so you have one full sized, which has the holes for the binder), you attatch the extra pages to the right most edge of the right most page, and fold it in like a paper fan. Then they just fold out.

Melugin

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« Reply #12 on: Mar 22, 2006, 03:24 am »
Quote
I'm used to a cast of about 10-15, but right now I've got 26. That alone has taken some getting used to.


um... try seventy one people in your cast and then 25 in the orchestra and about only 10 very rebellious techies, with set changes that are killer: (the set is so huge it takes 5 guys to even push one of these gigantic pieces a foot.)


... did into the woods last year with 22. that was way easy.

i feel your pain.. i really do. if you get seventy people in your cast, you can always vent towards me. i completely understand.. i also am calling all set changes over the headset, spot cues, light cues, sound cues, and it is all in almost a three inch binder... eek! i open in a week! how in the world did i find time for this?????  :wink:  :lol:
If All the World's a Stage, i want to operate the Trap Door!

Mac Calder

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« Reply #13 on: Mar 22, 2006, 07:22 am »
Seventy one is a tad over the top - Sounds like a school production where everyone has to be involved. YUCK! Been there, done that, got the Tee-shirt and the psychiatric commitment notice to prove it.

Killer

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« Reply #14 on: Mar 22, 2006, 11:02 am »
Wow ... I can't even imagine.  

I'm still in undergrad ... so 25 is about as big as we get (that's just under half the department probably)

How many ASM's do you have?

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