Friday, June 24, 2011

From the Music Director

I often say a good sign in the preparation of music for a concert or a show is that I begin dreaming the music. The longer the period of having a soundtrack to my dreams before a performance, the better the show is going to be. For instance, before Endstation’s opening concert, “Broadway in the Blue Ridge,” my sleep was accompanied by “You’re the Top”, “All I Ask of You”, “Maria” and so forth for three or four nights in a row. And while it was great fun to accompany such a talented cast (including Broadway’s Sean McLaughlin), more importantly the house was packed, and the event was a wonderful success.

Sondheim’s ASSASSINS is an experience like none other I’ve had. Much more than simply catchy tunes, Sondheim’s music is written to reflect and amplify the characters – and what extraordinary characters! Like the action onstage, the music is powerful – sometimes funny, always moving.
Combine Sondheim’s music with an Endstation cast that since February we knew to be truly exceptional, Director (and fellow University of Iowa grad) Chad Larabee’s remarkable vision and guidance, a top-notch crew, and a fantastic orchestra, and the experience is beyond powerful. It’s overwhelming. Funny. Intense. Thought-provoking.

Not that ASSASSINS is simply a walk in the park. In almost any show, there are times in which serving as Music Director is akin to attempting singlehandedly to move mountains. I imagine the same is true for choreographers and directors, too. Sondheim’s music (perhaps because it is so intuitively connected to the characters) is never easy. No two ways about it, it’s hard work. Logistic hurdles abound in a show like this – all of which our cast and crew continue to overcome with grace, humor and artistry.

Don’t get me wrong – Endstation’s production of ASSASSINS is hard work, yes – but each rehearsal has been so artistically rewarding, it’s more like riding a great wave of creativity than trying to move mountains.In fact, the only mountains involved have been the inspiring backdrop I’ve enjoyed, travelling to and from Babcock Theatre. Every rehearsal I have been amazed to see onstage something startlingly new, and often profound. And I can’t wait for audiences to catch this wave!
As for my nightly soundtrack, well, I’ve been dreaming ASSASSINS now for two weeks…

Randy Speer
Assassins Music Director

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