Phantom of the Opera

This week I am travelling to St. Helen’s to play for a youth production of Phantom of the Opera.  I have been really excited about this as it’s one of my favourite musicals, and the film adaptation with Gerard Bulter and Emmy Rossum is one of my favourite films.

There are four performances, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday evenings and Saturday afternoon – and by the looks of things they are all virtually sold out, which is great!  The band is made up of about a dozen of us and we are on-stage as opposed to being buried in a pit.  It’s really refreshing to be able to see what’s going on on the stage.  Last year I played for a rather more jazzy musical – 42nd Street – it was a lot of fun but the only action I was aware of was the sound of thirty tap-dancers pounding the stage.

The strange thing about Phantom is that, as well as a band, there is a backing track.  Andrew Lloyd Webber obviously leaves nothing to chance and provides the tricky-sounding organ part on a ready made CD as not all theatres come with built-in pipe organs.  It definitely adds to the texture of the music, which can sound quite sparse without a string section.

The Phantom’s mask for the Masquerade scene is particularly scary.  Although it was made less scary by the fact that the cast had to sit in the auditorium in full costume to hear the director’s notes before the dress rehearsal.  There it was, very scary skull mask, listening attentively to stage directions, resulting in hilarity and most of the band in fits of laughter.

Playing for shows is one of my absolute favourite things to do as a professional harpist.  There’s the camaraderie of being in a band that meets several times in one week.  The music itself, and lucky for me the harp often gets the most beautiful music to play – ‘All I Ask of You’ springs to mind – plus several glisses to add that extra sparkle.  And don’t get me started on the pre, during and post show drinks on offer…

We’ve had the technical and the dress rehearsal now, so fingers crossed it’ll all be alright on the night…

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