Hello Dolly

Discussion in 'Practical Advice' started by Carl H., Feb 7, 2011.

  1. Carl H.

    Carl H. Distinguished Member Distinguished Member

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    I checked Bret P.'s site and found the books:


    • 1: Piccolo, flute, clarinet, alto saxophone
    • 2: Clarinet, alto saxophone
    • 3: Clarinet, tenor saxophone
    • 4: Clarinet, bass clarinet, baritone saxophone
    but was wondering which had the heaviest lead load?

    Anybody who has done the show care to comment?
     
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  2. Gandalfe

    Gandalfe Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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  3. SOTSDO

    SOTSDO Old King Log Staff Member CE/Moderator

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    Hello Dolly!

    Ah, but if this is the instrumentation that I've played in about a dozen productions (originally in manuscript, but the last four times in engraved form), I think that you will find that the Book IV has the closest thing you will encounter to a lead clarinet part in the "Waiter's Gallop" part.

    It's a very athletic clarinet part, with lots of unison flourishes with the Book II or whatever is the more "clarinet" part of the other books. We always played it as a race, and the musical directors usually like to keep the tempo - uh - "bright".

    There's not a terrible lot of baritone sax in the show - mostly just string thickening in the overture and 11 o'clock numbers, and some train stuff in "Put On Your Sunday Clothes".

    The Book IV is also the site of the infinite bass clarinet vamp. It's a two bar phrase in unison with the piano, string bass and 'cellos (yeah, right, sure), right before the body of the gallop, that, if things don't go well backstage, can end up stretching on for what seems like forever.

    Hello Dolly! is an old format show, with the traditional solo turns, duets, trios and production numbers, but it's still a lot of fun to play. The music style varies from pre-"hot" stuff for the dance numbers to graceful ballads and waltzes, all of which are a pleasure to play on clarinet and bass clarinet. Not much in the way of leg, but plenty of broad humor to eat up the time between numbers.
     
  4. SOTSDO

    SOTSDO Old King Log Staff Member CE/Moderator

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    A war story

    When I was just out of the service, I played with a group organized by one Doug Major, the contractor, who supplied music for all of the shows put on by Catholic girl's high schools in the city of Saint Louis. None of them had a decent music program, so Doug saw a niche and filled it well. They scheduled their musical performances accordingly, so for a two month period we were all well employed and very busy.

    (Doug had the very first personalized checks that I had ever saw. On his checks was the standard music "clip art" from Deluxe or whoever. The clip art just happened to be a staff with the key of D indicated and a major chord shown as the notes. Most appropriately, he had his name printed upon them as "D Major"...)

    In the instant case, the show was Hello Dolly!, the scenery and production values were first rate, and we actually had an orchestra pit built in the middle of a huge thrust/catwalk for the two big production numbers ("Put On Your Sunday Clothes" and "Hello Dolly") Very impressive, with a full roster including strings.

    Unfortunately, the cast wasn't quite up to the rest of the setup. Non-attendance at rehearsals by many of the cast members made the "Waiter's Gallop" a real hodgepodge, and we spent most of the dress rehearsal time running same to get the guys on their marks.

    While all of this was going on, the main cast members (Dolly, Horace Van De Gelder, the three male juveniles and Irene Malloy and the other two female juveniles) were seated at tables in the restaurant, doing nothing.

    So, we are running the "Gallop" for what seems like the fifteenth time, when suddenly, without any warning at all, the "Irene Malloy" girl keels over and falls to the stage. We played on for about ten bars before she was noticed.

    Much confusion resulted, an ambulance was called, and the young lady (very attractive, by the way) was wheeled off to hospital, where my cousin's wife just happened to be working in Admissions when she arrived. She was DOA at the hospital, apparently of a heroin overdose (according to Sharon), and was cold as a fish once artificial respiration was discontinued.

    After about an hour, we were released to go home, with opening night only a day or so away. They brought in a ringer from a local college who had played the role before (and who was much better than the original Irene in the bargain).

    We all knew something was wrong when the production was not dedicated to the dead girl. Instead, there was an insertion in the program to the effect that "The role of Irene Malloy will be played by Suzy Creamcheese" - nothing more. (My cousin's wife filled me in on what happened at the hospital a week or so later.)

    Other than my time in RVN (where death was not exactly rare, to put it mildly), and one time at a staff meeting at the Veteran's Administration (where a guy notorious for falling asleep in such meetings appeared to do so again, and was only found to be dead when the meeting broke up), this was the only time where I witnessed a death up close and personal.

    Too bad, too. She was cute above her years and obviously more into adult entertainments than most high school seniors.

    The moral of the story is "Don't Use Drugs". But, you all knew that already anyway...
     
  5. Carl H.

    Carl H. Distinguished Member Distinguished Member

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    So you'd say book 2 is the heavy book, while 4 is more entertaining?

    I'm the weightlifter in this pit, so I need to be sure of the nasty books instrumentation so I can make sure the horns are in good shape before I get to the first reading.
     
  6. SOTSDO

    SOTSDO Old King Log Staff Member CE/Moderator

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    If you like playing ballad accompaniment on the bass, take Book IV. If it's clarinet fun you are looking for, take Book II.

    In any event, it's better than what I have in the upcoming months. I do three shows a year these days (one of the colleges where I used to play is being closed by the state), and two of the three have been announced: The Sound Of Music (gag) and Suessical (don't know about this one yet, but it looks like a yawner from a distance).

    Since the schools in question are Lutheran high schools, I doubt that the third one will be The Producers or 3¢ Opera...
     
  7. Carl H.

    Carl H. Distinguished Member Distinguished Member

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    Thanks for the tip. I'll pass on bass ballad accomping, had enough of that on Annie, JATTDC...

    Looks like it is a single book for me then. Usually I get a conglomeration of the hard stuff from all the WW books taped together (if I'm lucky) or a stack of books with a list of what to play where.

    Wow, a one trip to the car gig!! (fingers crossed)
     
  8. Gandalfe

    Gandalfe Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    Since I bring everything from a padded metal chair to a stand-mounted drink holder, I have to use a dolly to do the one trip from the car thang. Doesn't matter how many instruments I have (usually 3 - 4), it's the accoutrements that weigh me down.
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2011
  9. pete

    pete Brassica Oleracea Staff Member Administrator

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    Well, hello!
     
  10. RCNELSON

    RCNELSON

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    I just got home from show #6 of a 10 show run of DOLLY. As typical community theater in my area, they hired only 1 reed. I am playing primarily reed 1 although I am using some of the clarinet parts of reed 2. Reed 1 is flute heavy as usual and has the lead sax lines. Reed 2 has some great clarinet parts. I didn't even worry about looking at reeds 3 and 4.

    I would love to do DOLLY with at least 1 if not all 3 of the other books covered. It's a fun show.
     
  11. SOTSDO

    SOTSDO Old King Log Staff Member CE/Moderator

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    Only one reed, huh? A cheap-assed outfit...
     
  12. Gandalfe

    Gandalfe Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    And not very clever if there is a university or high school around. Great intern opportunities are everywhere. The smallest pit I've ever played in was because of the size of the pit and not based on the number of available musicians.
     
  13. SOTSDO

    SOTSDO Old King Log Staff Member CE/Moderator

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    I've encountered directors who want to limit the size of the orchestra due to weak vocalists, thinking no doubt that two horns will be less of an obstacle for a weak female lead. They don't understand how their sound system works, or that even trumpets can be toned down (if the music director is halfway competent).

    I've played shows for free, just because I wanted to get another one under my belt and the only opportunity was for a comp'd performance. And, as Gandalfe points out, there can be physical limitations. And financial ones - even the boffo shows on Broadway seek to limit costs by shaving desks of strings.

    At the end of the day, what motivates me most is to hear the music played the way that it was intended. By way of example, we (me, my lovely wife, and my close friend Giefer from Corpus Christi) are taking all the chances of a long winter drive through the heartland of the high plains to take in a performance (or two) of the rarely staged review Oh, What A Lovely War!. It's being staged by a Kansas City theatrical group at the National World War 1 Museum, a fabulous facility dedicated to the memory of those who fought in that now obscure conflict.

    (Virtually all of the music is "folk" music, tunes like "Hush! Here Comes A Whiz-Bang" and "Belgium Put The Kibosh On The Kaiser" - all stuff with which typical folks can easily sing along. Since it is seldom presented, an excellent substitute can be had by renting the movie of the same name.)

    The original review (which I played nearby in Kansas way back in the 1970's) is scored for a "pit band" of a couple reeds, two trumpets, a trombone, and a three piece rhythm section. Even with this setup, you still get a full sound reminiscent of the English music hall.

    But, I'm journeying up to Kansas City with the full expectations of hearing a piano reduction. I will be very pleasantly surprised to hear more.

    And, nothing puts a catch in my throat more than when I get to play in a group with a full string instrumentation. But, how often does that happen outside of a show on Broadway? The pro stuff that I played up with traveling road companies of Broadway shows in Saint Louis still went with fewer strings, and it seems to be the rule down here as well. At least they don't cut the reed folks...yet.
     
  14. hakukani

    hakukani

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  15. SOTSDO

    SOTSDO Old King Log Staff Member CE/Moderator

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    I've played with plenty of union groups that use strings over the years. However, I'm talking about a full complement of strings, not just two desks of violins, a sorry looking old guy with a viola, a 'cello or two, and some clown playing an electric bass.

    West Side Story was written for what? Perhaps six desks of violins, plus commensurate numbers of 'cellos and bass viols. That's a string section.

    (No violas, mind you, but then again that was a good thing, as convicted felon Stewart was wont to say. Violas are the alto clarinet of the string world...)

    There was an old saying that went something like "One violin - exciting; two violins - muddy; three violins - boring; four violins - divine." More than any other family of instruments, strings gain more than volume from additional instruments deployed. My theory is that the inherent intonation problems associated with the string fingering system gets "smoothed out" when they are present in numbers. But, it just as well might be due to all of the extra rosin dust in the air. Nonetheless, it does appear to be a factor.

    When I see two bass viol fiddle heads poking up out of the orchestra pit, I start to get excited...
     
  16. RCNELSON

    RCNELSON

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    While I agree that our local theatre groups do not have a lot of money for musicians, in this case we were crowded into the wing of stage right. 1 trumpet, me, MD on keys, upright bass and drums was all we had room for.

    Looks like I'm on tap at another theatre for GRAND HOTEL this summer. We are going to use the reduced orchestration.


    BASS
    DRUMS
    KEYBOARD 2 ACCORDION, CLAVINET, HARMONIUM, HARP, HARPSICHORD, MANDOLIN, MUTED STRINGS, PIANO, RHODES, STRINGS, TACK PIANO
    PIANO CONDUCTOR
    REED 1 ALTO SAXOPHONE, FLUTE, SOPRANO SAX, TENOR SAXOPHONE
    REED 2 BASS CLARINET, CLARINET, FLUTE, PICCOLO
    TRUMPET


    I'm hoping they'll spring for both reeds, the trumpet and the 2nd keyboard. Have any of you played this one. IF so, what are the reed books like? I am likely going to be on reed 1.
     

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