DRAMA 101, INTRODUCTION TO THEATRE, MOD 1 -Musical Director


You’re always exploring a different style
of music and helping that particular style of music come to fruition in front
of a, a big audience. Hi, my name’s Carmel Dean, and I am a
musical director. [MUSIC] A musical director wears a million
different hats. there are many different facets of the
music department that have to be taken care of as a musical director.
[SOUND] it’s my passion to ensure that the style of music is, is going to be
true whatever the composer wants and true to the, the, the theatrical experience.
I have been playing the piano since I was three years old.
So it’s always been a part of my life. I don’t even remember asking to take
piano lessons. I didn’t actually get involved in theater
until 11th or 12th grade. I did two musicals in high school.
one was The Boyfriend with Heath Ledger coming from the the neighboring boy
school. And then I got involved in the amateur
theater scene in Paris and it just opened up this whole wide world that I didn’t
know about and I fell in love with it. In 2000, I was lucky enough to be awarded
a Fullbright scholarship and so came to New York University.
One of the faculty members out there is William Finn.
And I went up to him on one of the first days that I met him and I told him how
much I was a fan and that I would love to work with him and I can’t believe it was
as easy as that. But that’s basically how I met Bill and
started working for him and he asked me to assist him on uuu, his song cycle at
Lincoln Center. And pretty soon after that he started
writing Spelling Bee and he asked to do the vocal arrangements and I was pretty
involved in that entire writing process and I ended up also being the associate
conductor of the show once it moved to Broadway.
A good musical director needs patience needs to have a good ear obviously,
there’s a lot going on. Starting in rehearsals, the musical
director works with the singers to teach them the vocal part and often there are,
you know many different vocal lines going on, depending up on the arrangement.
I’ve always loved working with singers to encourage and to teach and to help them
shine the way that the have the ability to.
There’s also the collaboration with the director, the Musial supervisor in the
case of American Idiot which is Tom Kitt who also did the orchestration and the
vocal arrangements so we work hand in hand for making sure that the music not
only sounds as good as it as it can but also serves the dramtic request of the
piece. And I’m working with Michael Mayer, and
Stephen Hoggart, the choreographer. you know, it’s one giant collaboration to
make sure that the story is being told the way they want it to be told.
Before, before we go into performance, so in the rehearsal room, it’s, it’s all
about being a vehicle for Tom Kitt, his musical intentions.
so making sure that the singers know exactly what they’re doing and the band
is playing the correct, the correct patches on guitar, the different sounds,
that the keyboard is programmed the way that Tom wants it to sound, and then once
the show opens… a big part of my job is maintaining all
of those aspects, and that’s what’s interesting, too.
The musical director is one of the early members of that original, creative
production team from the rehearsal room, who then continue with the show, so
currently, I’ll have the vocal rehearsal Every one or two weeks.
The beauty of a vocal rehearsal is that they can just stand there and sing and
focus in on what everyone else is singing, and not have to worry about the
choreography and the quick costume changes, making sure they’re ready for
the next cue. It’s just a chance to get back to the
very basic musical elements of the show. And it’s.
It’s actually tricky to, to remember that, when they’ve got all these other
elements that they do on a nightly basis. I don’t remember the last show that we’ve
done where there’s been a full cast in. We’ve had understudies, we’ve had cast
changes, so every night there is there’s a quick put in rehearsal, or just a run
through. With these, with whoever is going on in
whatever different track they’re doing. If they may not have done it before.
So making sure those people know what they’re doing, in, you know, a fifteen
minute window before the show starts. [MUSIC] And then I run up to my little
dressing room and throw my costume on and put my makeup on and put my hair in the
little twists. And at 8:00, come down.
[MUSIC] And start conducting the show. The band is onstage in “American Idiot.”
It’s so wonderful to have the band be appreciated and to be visible.
In so many shows, the orchestra is under the stage.
It’s so different to anything I’ve ever done, because it’s, y’know, it’s[MUSIC]
It’s a punk rock genre, but it, it’s also theater.
As a music director, you need to be so well versed in in switching gears
stylistically. You know, a lot of people ask me, oh,
you’re, you’re that punk rock conductor, and I’m like, well, I am right now.
and I love it, and I love this music to death.
But I, I love a Stephen Sondheim musical, you know, more than anything, you know,
and I love William Finn, and basically if it’s good music, I’m attracted to it.
The best part of musical direction is the collaborative process.
And working with so many different artists, everybody brings something
different to whatever piece it is, that you’re constantly, you know, being blown
away by these amazing people that you’re working with.
and not only that, you then get to Be apart of making amazing music every
night. [MUSIC][MUSIC].

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