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Mendy Smith

Heading Back into the Pit

May 28, 2010 at 4:29 AM

It is that time of year again for the Houston Bar Association's musical/comedy production of "Night Court". It is the one time out of the year that I play in a semi-professional setting. We play 5 shows in 4 days.  We in the pit are individually mic'd by a professional sound-tech crew.  Sometimes we even rub elbows with the Houston Grand Opera backstage. 

Playing in such confined quarters builds a camaraderie unmatched by any other other setting.  The pit itself is quite cramped.  It takes a bit of juggling to situate ourselves so that we have just barely enough room to play our instruments.  We share one small dressing room for close to two dozen musicians to change into orchestral black and warm-up in.  Dinner is taken in those confined quarters between arriving after our day jobs and curtain call.  By then end of the week, we know more about each other than any other sane person would wish to know. 

The word "creative" does not do justice to what happens down in the pit.  While we play from mostly orchestrated scores, we have the freedom to modify the scores we play from as we see fit and the incidental music is entirely ad-lib - just the name of a song and its key signature.  We add a touch of humor by picking a piece of music to be played by kazoo.  It takes a lot of  will power to not laugh while we perform certain numbers.

Though we may call the week of the show "hell week", it is a time that we all enjoy.  For a few days we divulge ourselves in an alternate lifestyle.  During the day we are lawyers, judges, engineers, teachers and medical professionals but by night we are musicians.  Though we are in the darkest recesses that is called the pit, our music augments what happens on-stage and provides the stage crew time to change sets. 

We play the bows but do not take them ourselves.


From Terez Mertes
Posted on May 28, 2010 at 2:08 PM

 Oh, that sounds like huge fun! Enjoy. : )

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