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Mendy Smith

Tales from the Pit

June 16, 2009 at 1:52 AM

About a month ago I got recruited into playing in the pit orchestra for the Houston Bar Association's yearly musical comedy "Night Court".  Every year it is different, but based on making fun of themselves and spoofs on current events.  Proceeds go to charity.  This year's theme was "Legal Fairy Tales".  Scenes included Hurricane Ike, the presidential election, housing/financial crisis, and just a general poking fun at the legal industry.

The show was performed at the Wortham Theater in downtown Houston over the course of 5 days.  This is the same theater that the Houston Ballet performs out of.  The pit was tiny and cramped.  The few strings that were in the pit had a very difficult time hearing ourselves over the brass and the sound monitors placed amongst us all.  The cellist had this niftly device her husband concocted that functions the same way as a stethoscope.  It is made of some thin tubing with a pipette on the end that you insert through the f-hole into the body, and the other end of the tube is a hollow type ear-plug with a hole in it where the tube ends.  It was amazing how well it worked!!!

The music was quite different than anything I've played before on viola...  like "Funky Town", "Brick House", and some Simon and Garfunkle.  We played a toned down version of Flight of the Valkyries, and the 1812 Overture - on kazoo!  As a joke during one rehearsal we also played the Wagner on kazoo.  We had a difficult time completing that piece since everyone was having fits of laughter.

It was the most exhausting but fun experience I've had in a long time.  I'll definitely be doing this again next year.    Now it is time to get ready for two other performances in the next month - the Handel Sonata for 2 violas at church, and a sub-gig in 2 weeks.  And to think, I've only been in Houston for 2 months!!!!

From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on June 16, 2009 at 11:27 AM

Wow, you sure have been busy!  Glad you're back blogging again :)

From Corwin Slack
Posted on June 16, 2009 at 8:53 PM

 There are two theaters in the Wortham Center: The Brown Theater (large) and the Cullen Theater (small). You must have been in the smaller theater because I have seen the whole Houston Symphony in Strauss Operas in the pit of the large theater. The Houston Ballet almost always performs in the Brown Theater. 

From Mendy Smith
Posted on June 17, 2009 at 1:06 AM

 Corwin,  yes, we were in the Cullen theater.  My stand-partner and I accidently went to the Brown pit first.  We were excited to see such a large pit but then our hopes were dashed when we saw the music on the stands... not our pit :( 

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