Wicked Finally Over!

Date: November 2, 2014 Author: stevehunter Categories: Latest
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Nov 2, 2014

So I finally finished playing a 9 week run of the mega musical "Wicked" tonight. I practiced this show for the entire month of August, so it's been 13 weeks of very hard work. Very tough piano book, and every show, my heart would be in my throat and my hands sweaty. Almost nothing was a throw away easy to play sequence in this book. Everything was hard, and a lot of it exposed. On the drive home I would play JJ Cale and Dylan to re-boot my soul. Last show was tonight, and I couldn't be more relieved. I played "The Weight" by The Band all the way home and just started to feel like I could remove myself from the space of an uptight mega musical show. Don't really like Stephen Schwartz's music. Typical anal underscoring throughout most of the show, with light pop imitation songs. Only ONE song plays all the way through without stopping. The real soul of music is not in this genre. It'll take about a week away from this show to reset my musical space. 

These criticisms take nothing away from the professionalism of the people playing in the pit band and the conductors, both of whom were absolute sweethearts and real musicians. The interim NYC musical director even volunterred to play my piano book for one show so I could sit out in the audience and see the show. Unheard of! I wish I could say I loved it, but I was completely underwhelmed. All the hard fought for precision and efforts to play with the other musicians in our headphone mixes where the music was front and center was totally lost in the mix out in the house. I could hardly hear the piano parts and the rest of the band. This is no fault of the sound mixer, who is told to mix it this way. Another reason there is often no soul in these big musicals. Oh well.... we get paid very well for our expertise and we have pride in each other's playing. These musicians are the real deal and play 8 shows a week in real time, live every show.

The tinninitus in my ears is considerably worse then when I started on Sept 2. There is just no way to properly "get into" the music and play at a low volume. So I monitor higher and higher as my hearing deteriorates, and tonight the ringing is louder than it's ever been. All shows are now on headphones, so I don't know about doing another long run again. Speakers are way better to monitor, in my opinion. Also on this show, I had to keep practicing daily to be in shape, as it is technically very demanding. I've never had to do that on a show before. Usually, I get the routine down and I can go in to the pit, do a quick warm up and play the show. Not on this one. An hour at home of full Hanon exercises, scales, arpeggios, broken chords and then read through Chopin nocturnes or whatever other classical pieces I feel like playing, and then go into do the show. A side result, is that I'm in great shape technically now.

But Wicked is not the music I like at all anymore. I never was a "musical theater" guy; I like slow slinky greasy grooves, with a minimum of notes and a maximum of feel - JJ Cale is my man. I often ask myself how on earth I became known as the guy to call for all this hard shit, when I all I want to do is play greasy wurlitzer piano with a chill rhythm section...

Going to go up to the cottage and split 5 cords of wood in cold November weather and listen to early Dylan on vinyl every night on my little record player up there and rejuvenate my soul. Over and out.....