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Mendy Smith

Tales from the Pit II

June 13, 2010 at 11:41 PM

Four days, five shows.  Last night ended the 2010 production of Night Court  "Legal Holidays", a musical comedy poking fun at the legal profession and current events.   Each of those four nights, I went home exhausted but happy.  A lesson in what professional musicians do day in and day out.

The string section was most concerned with one particular number - the "Aggie Song", a hoe-down to end all hoe-downs.  Individually we spent many hours practicing this piece until our calluses formed calluses and shed enough wood to build a bonfire.  I finally got to hear how this sounded today and was impressed with how it turned out. 

The most memorable moment  though was the scene just before intermission.  The "Peanuts Gang" walks toward the front of the stage at the edge of the pit.  One of the gang says that the orchestra has been in the pit for a long time and needs a break, and that the trumpet player looks like he needs a "bio break".  At that point, the oboist raises a white flag in surrender, and the bari-sax flashes the actors on stage a flash card.  All of this is unscripted and inspired by the moment.

What was on the card changed from night to night and ran the gambit from quips in text to photo-shopped pics that I can't describe in a PG setting.  Suffice it to say, we were trying to throw the actors off, and succeeded at least for the first show.  The war was on!  On the second night of the show, the Peanuts Gang was ready for us and threw back an unscripted come-back.  These impromptu jests between pit and stage brought laughs from the audience.

While the playing in the pit is cramped, hot, and stressful at times, it is an experience that we all mark as a highlight of the year. 


From Ray Randall
Posted on June 14, 2010 at 4:39 AM

Sounds like a fun time. Years ago while playing the dress rehearsal for the musical "Plain and Fancy" we also had some fun. The song in question was "City Mouse, Country Mouse." On the way to the rehearsal we stopped at a pet store and picked up two mice. We gave the mice to one of the horn players who sat right next to the stage. During the song he quietly tossed the mice onto the stage. Pandemonium! Most of the adult women and actually some men were "running for their lives." Although most of us in the orchestra knew about the mice I don't think any of the singers or actors ever found out where the mice came from. My stomach still aches many years later from laughing so hard.

 

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