Getting Hired for a Pit Orchestra

Discussion in 'Wise Talk!' started by WildTrumpet, Jan 24, 2006.

  1. WildTrumpet

    WildTrumpet New Friend

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    May 5, 2005
    Saint Paul, Minnesota
    Mr. Wise,

    I have played trumpet (mostly lead but some 2nd as well) in over 30 musicals. The first half of this work was during college for our theater department during the school year and for a rep. theater in the summers. The last half has been in the Twin Cities for a couple of community theaters while I am completing my Ph.D. My question is how does this kind of business work in the professional world? Are you hired for a single show at a time? Does the music director have the say in who is hired/fired from show to show? How is seating determined? I know that pro pit musicians are union folks so that plays into it too. I appreciate any information you may have.

    Alex Kahler
     
  2. wiseone2

    wiseone2 Artitst in Residence Staff Member

    3,418
    375
    Nov 19, 2003
    Brooklyn,NY
    Each show is a different situation.
    Stephen Sondheim shows usually are conducted by Paul Gemignani. He hand-picks the personnel in his pits. His contractor might make suggestions, but Paul is the boss.
    Other shows usually employ an outside contractor to employ the musicians.
    John Miller and Mike Keller are two of the busiest guys right now. They each have long lists of capable musicians.
    It is really tough to break in on the Broadway scene.
    The best route is to get to know the guys who are working, and get on their sub lists. There are no unknowns walking in and dazzling the music community. Each player in the pit is a tested pro.
    Seating is done on an individual situation basis. Lead players are over-scale by contract.
    MDs are not as powerful as they once were, the contractors rule.......sometimes with an iron fist.
    It is hard to get a gig on Broadway!

    Wilmer
     
  3. WildTrumpet

    WildTrumpet New Friend

    18
    0
    May 5, 2005
    Saint Paul, Minnesota
    Thanks for the information. I won't deny that I have often dreamed of playing lead for some of the big ones (Cats--now gone of course, Phantom, Jesus Christ Superstar, etc.) on Broadway. However, while I did a performance degree, I have chosen science as my career and the trumpet is my "hobby of passion".

    My original post comes because the theater I am involved with here in the Twin Cities is a volunteer community theater who has an ex-broadway dancer (who was trained by Fosse) running the show. He has hand-chosen his MD and given her the power over the contractor. So, there is politics involved even at this level. I am in it for the love of music and while our quality is very high, they insist on change for the sake of change. It made me curious. Thanks, again for your time. Next time I get to NY, I'll look you up. :-)

    Alex Kahler
     

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