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What are some of the shows(and the books in them) everybody has played?

I've currently done:
Music Man; but it was at my school so parts were doubled up on. I played flute and clarinet for it.

Bye Bye Birdie:
Reed 1 and 3: Piccolo, flute, clarinet, tenor saxophone. We had an alto and flute but no picc or tenor. Also done at my school

The Borrowed Tomb:
First(and only)Bassoon; a musical put on at my church. The music was arranged by Clydesdale and wasn't that bad, but the solos were a killer.

Once on This Island:
Piccolo, flute, alto flute, clarinet, and soprano saxophone. By far my favorite musical I've done with Birdie coming in at a close second, and my first show at a local community theater.


Admin and all around good guy.
Staff member
Suzy and I have done, just for the experience of it:

Anything Goes: I luv'd the music in this with it's very jazzy parts and that nice sop solo. I played sop, tenor, and bari sax.

Chorus Line: Not a good experience as I was in a bad place where I couldn't see the show and had to play very loud to be heard. No seriously, I was in the storage attic of the theater. I played bass clarinet, bari sax, and sop clarinet.
Did they not have the pit amplified for chorus line?

Carl H.

Distinguished Member
Distinguished Member
Hmm, Off the top of my head

Carmen Vln 1 and Percussion
Barber of Seville, Vln 1 and timpani
Marriage of Figaro Vln 1
Pagliacci timpani
Desert Song timpani
Cavalleri Rusticana Timpani
Annie Vln 1 Reed ?(Clarinet, sop and alto sax)
South Pacific Violin 1
Peter Pan Vln 1, bass cl, timpani
The Wizard of Oz Vln 1
The Wiz Vln 1 Tenor sax(?)
West Side Story Vln 1
Chicago Cl,Bass cl, sop tenor sax
My Fair Lady Vln 1 bass
Peanuts/Charlie Brown? Bass
Amahl and the Night Visitor bass
I Love You You're Perfect Now Change vln
Guys & Dolls Vln 1
Evita Vln 1
Into the Woods vln 1
Cabaret Vln 1 Alto sax clarinet
Quilters Vln, cello, recorder
Paint Your Wagon Violin
Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat Sop sax, Cl, bass cl
Othello Vln 1
Love Rides the Rails vln 1
The Student Prince percussion

Good grief, I can't remember the show I did in June! I guess I'll go mow the lawn and think on this a bit. (Some of those shows I have done many times, most on different instruments each time, but unfortunately that is not the case for all of them. On I Love You You're Perfect Now Change there is only violin and piano and I don't have much for piano chops. Unfortunately it is probably the most challenging show I've done and nobody has heard it and few have played it due to the simple scoring. Never again! It ain't worth it!)

Sweet Charity Vln 1
Here's Love Vln 1
Damn Yankees vln 1
The King and I vln 1
Music Man vln1 clarinet
Aida vln 1 (This is the one I did in June)
Susannah vln II
The Mikado vln 1
The Elixir of Love vln II
Pippin Vln 1

More as they hit me

A funny thing happened on the way to the Forum vln, sop tenor sax.
Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Reflect Up Vln, Clarinet, sop sax(wasn't in the part but we liked the sound)

Sound of Mucus vln 1
Once upon a mattress vln 1

Maybe I'd better stop trying to remember, I'm pulling up shows I'd rather forget, and not just because of the music.
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Content Expert/Moderator
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Iolanthe - clar
HMS Pinafore - clar
Pirates of Penzance - clar
Yeomen of the Guard - clar
Patience - clar
Guys & Dolls - bari/bass clar
Sound of Music - clar
Producers - clar/bari/bassoon/contra clar
Cabaret - tenor/clar/oboe/EH
Cabaret - bass clar/tenor/clar/bass sax
Irving Berlin's White Christmas - clar/bassoon/bass clar/bari
Secret Garden - fl/picc/alto fl/clar/penny whistles/recorders/panpipes
Babes in Arms - bass
Pajama Game - bass
Anything Goes - bari/bass clar
A Little Night Music - flute/picc/alto flute/clar/bass clar/oboe/EH
Joseph & the Amazing Tech. Dreamcoat - soprano/clar/bass clar
Sophisticated Ladies - clar/alto
Mack & Mabel - clar/alto/tenor/picc
Thoroughly Modern Millie - clar/flute/picc/alto/sop/bass clar
Kiss Me Kate - clar/bassoon/bass clar/bari
Music Man - clar/bass clar/bassoon/bass sax

There's more...but those were off the top of my head.
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Old King Log
Staff member
One of the great redeeming features of Broadway show orchestrations is that the tenor sax books end up with the oboe and English horn parts...

I once listed out the shows that I've played over on the clarinet boards, in response to a question very much like this one, and was roundly chastised for it; I shan't do that again...

I do wonder about the production of A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum mentioned below. None of the many (far too many) productions of this that I have done over the years had a soprano sax part in same. Was this the new production (which hasn't made it out this far in the sticks yet), or was that an abbreviation for soprano clarinet?

Carl H.

Distinguished Member
Distinguished Member
It was back in 1988 and I'm pretty sure it called for Sop. I remember the keyboard crapping out when some nimrod pulled the plug backstage and covering the right hand on soprano til the power was restored. The musical director was strict about using the instruments called for so I don't think I was using soprano in lieu of another instrument. Might have been though, I really don't remember.

Why would anyone object to a listing of shows?


Private woodwind instructor
I'm a newb compared to some of you.

Bye Bye Birdie - clarinet
Meet Me In St. Louie - clarinet
Cinderella - clarinet
The Sound of Music - clarinet
Seussical the Musical - clarinet & tenor sax

I guess I've only been doing this for 5 years and not 6. Unless I've forgotten one.


Old King Log
Staff member
It was probably a substitution for clarinet, then. I did the original show with the touring company when it hit Saint Louis back in the 1960's, and there weren't any soprano parts in same at that time, while all books (even Reed I) had clarinet.

For that matter, even when a book was on sax, it only spent a very limited amount of time there - a baritone for strings substitution in the overture, about fifty bars on sax in all parts in "In The House Of Marcus Lycus", and again some baritone during the opening of "Milas Gloriousus". It was hardly worth bringing the horns for so little.

Forum is one of the few shows that I've done with no rehearsal, usually as a last minute sub for someone who crapped out and had to be replaced. Over the years, I've played all but the Reed I book.

There are multiple versions of many of the "classic" shows out there, so variations in the instrumentation are not unheard of. I've played at least four different West Side Story books (both manuscript and engraved), three The Music Man books (and the bassoon part was in a different book each time), two or three Annie books, and a couple each of Candide and Follies over the last forty years time. The overall layout of the arrangements are often in flux with these things, depending on the vocalists and their substitutions.

I always wished for a show where all I had to play was bass clarinet. Then along came Once Upon A Mattress - two week long production in two successive years. Even getting paid good money for playing didn't take away the sting of those ordeals.

And, as for objecting to a listing - well, a lot of people object to a lot of things over on The Clarinet BBoard. 'Tis part of the karma of the place, I imagine.
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Old King Log
Staff member
Church musicals

Regarding church musicals, I've only done one, again as a very last minute substitute. I was called to do two shows of a Christmas musical on the Christ, with standard, jazzy Broadway style tunes written around the story.

The lead clarinet crapped out at the last possible minute (she might have gotten a better job somewhere else) and all of the other clarinet folks in the area were booked up. So, I stepped in, shifted the bass clarinet parts in the unplayed third book over to my stand, and had the terrified second player cover the lead where needed.

Other than the money (which was very good, although the musical director tried to argue me down once I accepted), the one thing I recall all of these years later was a number that went something like "La-la, la la-la-la, Je-sus; la-la, la la la-la, la-la Je-sus...", sung by the blessed Virgin Mary herself. Very spooky to someone not used to church music outside of Handel.

You could have taken the tune, subbed in some words by Toni Tenille, and it would have been right at home on The Sonny and Cher Show...


Admin and all around good guy.
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You could have taken the tune, subbed in some words by Toni Tenille, and it would have been right at home on The Sonny and Cher Show...
Too funny.

I remember the keyboard crapping out when some nimrod pulled the plug backstage and covering the right hand on soprano til the power was restored.
Dude, you were in the military weren't you. Fess up. :emoji_rage:
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Carl H.

Distinguished Member
Distinguished Member
No service, but I did march around and shoot rifles early in the morning in college before imbibing. ROTC rifle training, followed by a round or two at the local. It was amusing for a while and we did some fun stuff - like climbing up the side of the old fieldhouse, messing with field radios and other generally neato "kid" stuff. But 6:00 am got old pretty fast while gigging.

It's funny how few shows we have in common so far, though I recalled a few from reading others posts.


Old King Log
Staff member
I'm a newb compared to some of you..
Everyone was new at one time or another. Don't let it bother you.

WHen I was drafted into the Army in 1969, I was in the initial equipment issue line when I had a transcendental experience. I was standing there with my pile of fatigues, web gear, boots and other military whatnot when a pair of what looked like combat hardened soldiers came into the building, there to get some dry boots.

(It later turned out that they could not have been in the military for more than eleven weeks, this being the maximum amount of time anyone could have been in training before going out for the week-long bivouac that these two worthies had been on.)

At that time, I can recall myself thinking "Wow! They look like real soldiers!"

Fast forward just under two complete years. I was one or two days away from discharge, with a full year of combat under my belt in RVN and the CIB and other decorations to prove it, when I made the rounds of Fort Knox to say goodbye to friends and settle any small outstanding debts. By that point, I had gifted off all of my fatigue uniforms and was living in Class B khaki shirt and pants (on which all of the decorations were to be worn), along with my drill instructor hat and whistle (which got you a lot of respect around the post, both from military and civilian alike).

Among my stops was one at the post issue facility, where I had two sets of boots and an Alice rucksack waiting for me when I brought a case of beer by for the boys. (Them boots lasted about forever - my son lost the rucksack the first time that I let him use it.)

When I arrived, the staff there was in the process of making the first issue of uniforms and gear to a newly arrived group of enlistees, and there they stood, wearing much the same sort of look on their face as I must have had two years earlier. The difference then was that I was not some trainee, fresh out of the Advanced Individual Training units, wondering where I was going to be sent in the next month or two, but rather someone who had been through the mill, complete with the hardware and ribbons to prove it.

At that point, I recalled my experience at Fort Jackson almost two years before. Wow, man! How far off base I was back then. And, for that matter, how far off base I would be if my former platoon (with fifteen years in the Navy and twelve in the Army) had been standing there instead.

From your listing of shows, you have done more than perhaps 90% of the clarinet players of my acquaintance (pros and students alike). Nothing to be ashamed of there. At least you haven't done Once Upon A Mattress twice in less than a calendar year. (Or, two different productions of Carousel within three months of each other.)

Keep it up, with one or two college or community (or traveling road shows) a year, and pretty soon you'll be wondering where all the time went.

One show I forgot to mention above was Threepenny Opera. Very exposed parts (soprano clarinet/alto and soprano clarinet/tenor in the normal version), very "modern" music sound to it all, and some pretty interesting tunes in the bargain. Plus (for the guys in the orchestra) a stage full of prostitutes in various stages of undress...


Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
SOTSDO said:
Tammi said:
I'm a newb compared to some of you.
Everyone was new at one time or another. Don't let it bother you.
Let's see. I had, oh, 20 years playing/professional music experience before I "retired" and I never played a "Broadway" show. You've got more experience than me in that area!


Old King Log
Staff member
Truth be told, theatrical music (opera, Broadway and West End shows, and the kind of stuff that my group plays) is not for the faint of heart. It's a whole different world in which the musician is only a part, not the whole.

Whereas the typical jazz gig is all about the musician (i.e., the players set the tempo, the style and what have you), all of theatrical music is support for something else. Suddenly, the musicians are no longer in control, and without some care this is a recipe for musical disaster.

In our case, it's only the vocalists, and both sides adjust and accommodate each other to make it work. It's not impossible to make work, even if it is a bit of a problem getting it set up through rehearsal.

In the others, it a lot more complicated. Part of the difficultly arise from the methods of rehearsal, part of them from negligence/ignorance on the part of the vocal performers/actors, and part of it from poor communication between all parties involved. But, it is a lot more complicated than setting up a jazz trio and calling a tune.

Rehearsal techniques fail since they always (well, almost always) use a rehearsal pianist as the source of music. This worthy is always too accommodating to the vocalists, and in effect ends up conditioning them to not worry about tempo, note duration and the like.

The performers, in turn, have their own problems. Although we in the music world tend to poo-poo their objections, you have to realize that they are doing three or four things at once, and trying to make it all fit musically. To perform before a house full of spectators is more than most of us can do; to do it while dancing and "acting" (whereby, every night, you have to reproduce your actions, timing and movements in the same rigid fashion, all while making it look effortless) is exponentially more difficult.

Finally, you have the battle of personalities. The musical director of a show is more than just a musician who has a few contacts and credits under his belt. In addition to working up the pit orchestra (usually through a series of three or four rehearsals), he also has to coordinate with the other "directors" (only a few of whom are credited as such) to ensure that the music works with everything else.

Like everyone else, I hate technical rehearsals (where the problems are worked out), since it involves sitting around for two hours and playing for only one. However, this is where the stage direction and the musical director earn their money, as getting it all to gel is what makes the show worth the time (and money).

Then, there's the wonderful world of live performance. I'm not talking about missing a change here and there, but rather the fact that all of the music is hostage to what's going on up on the stage.

Those of us who play in pit orchestras all have a favorite musical horror story to tell about how this interplay between the music and the show has gone wrong. My favorite is a production of Hello Dolly! back in the 1970's that I did up in Saint Louis. The "eleven o'clock" number (where Dolly is brought in down that big stairway) is either followed or preceded by a dance number called the "Waiter's Gallop", which in turn segues into a dance competition up on the stage involving a lot of comedic business.

The "Gallop" is fun to play, with a lot of quick stuff on soprano clarinet that requires split second timing. But, after all of that speeding around, the Reed IV player then picks up his bass clarinet and plays a simple vamp figure, accompanied only by the string bass desk.

It's not hard to play, only a single bar in 2/4 time with an upward arpeggio followed by a bump on the second beat. It was inserted to allow for previous participants in the "Gallop" to get in position, catch their breath (the "Gallop" is very strenuous), and change out props and costumes for the dance competition.

Usually, I have ended up playing the vamp maybe five or ten times. On the night in question, however, there had been a serious wardrobe malfunction backstage, this involving a cast member that was essential to the plot at that point. No costume change equalled a shot scene in the show, making it all a catastrophic failure.

So, there I sat, going "barrump-bump" on the bass clarinet while needle and thread were employed to make it all right backstage. (No safety pins were available, apparently.) I lost track of how long we two filled in musically (while the actors on stage did a workman like job filling in with ad libs and cute stage business), but it finally ended before the two of us went completely insane from the repetition.

The director of the play bought us both a drink that evening (or, rather, bought the bass player two drinks, since I don't imbibe.) And, I can play that one measure from memory even today (twenty or so years later), so it wasn't all a waste.

Aside from little problems like this, there are the times that the vocalists decide to drop whole choruses from what they're slated to sing, of very good actors who can't hold a pitch to save their souls, and when someone swans off of the stage and ends up in the percussion section. Or, when a bathtub and water bit on stage ends up dousing the string desks when someone climbs in a bit fast. Or, when the electrical power in the pit goes out and you are stuck reading manuscript charts from the theatrical lighting.

All in all, it's a challenging musical world in which to be operating. And, to add insult to injury, you are never the center of attention as the musician, the glory instead going to the actor or vocalist. Still, as an integral part of the whole thing, it's rewarding enough. And, it's one version of music where the clients are still willing to pay real money for your services.
Well, let's see how good my memory is:
Anything Goes the old alternate instrumentation: Reed 2 clarinet (I transposed the oboe parts), tenor and bari
Roar of the Greasepaint the Smell of the Crowd: Reed 4 clarinet and bari
Guys and Dolls: Reed 2, flute, clarinet and alto sax
Mame: 2 productions: Reed 1 picc, flute, clarinet and alto AND Reed 2, flute, clarinet, bass clar and alto
FORUM: Reed 3: clarinet, tenor
Sound of Music: 1st clarinet
Oklahoma, 2 productions on 2nd clarinet
South Pacific, 1st clarinet
Promises, Promises, 2 productions, both on Reed 4, flute, clarinet and bari
Gypsy: Reed 1, picc, flute, clarinet, and alto
No, No Nanette: Reed 3, clarinet and tenor (I think)
Little Mary Sunshine: 2nd clarinet
Music Man: Flute and Clarinet (I think, don't remember this one; too long ago)
Thoroughly Modern Millie: 2 of us split up the 4 reed books; I ended up on piccolo, flute, clarinet, soprano, alto and tenor. Too bad I didn't get doubling premiums for this one.
The Melody Lingers On: picc, alto, clarinet, flute

I think that's it.
I'm new to playing in pits too! :eek:)

Copacabana: Reed 2 - Flute/Clarinet/Tenor
Wonderful Town: Reed 4 - flute from reed 1 --- flute/clarinet/tenor
Me and My Girl: flute/clarinet/alto ... pic maybe?
Starting rehearsal for Beauty and the Beast soon on reed 3 ... flute/clarinet/bass clarinet

I've also played in the pit for 4-5 variety shows type things.
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Old King Log
Staff member
Wonderful Town has some pretty attractive clarinet and sax playing in it. I particularly liked the baritone sax line from the ballet, and the clarinet stuff on the various "Ohio" reprises. I also got to be the gruff but loveable (and non-dancing - my one condition for playing the role) Oirush police sergeant for "Darling Eileen". Sadly, there was no cast album for that one.

I've done all of Lennie's shows save On The Town. Of the lot, Candide was the most entertaining (I did it once as a player and once as a music director), while West Side Story was the most challenging.


Double Reed CE
Staff member

Hmmm, these are ancient history for me...

  • Gypsy - reed V (bari, bassoon, bass cl, cl)
  • Brigadoon (bassoon?)
  • The Boyfriend (sop/alto/bass saxes? [the bass would have been transposed to bari])
  • Oklahoma (geez, don't clearly remember what I played, probably bassoon, maybe piano!)
  • something by Gilbert & Sullivan (definitely bassoon)
  • King & I (bassoon)
The most recent of those (Boyfriend) was in grad school, over a quarter century ago. Sure had a lot more time before I got a job!

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