Exploring Spring Awakening: Let’s Hear It for the Band! Written by Eric Deutz
Last week, we had our sitzprobe: when band and cast meet for the first time. It was a night everyone was looking forward to; there’s nothing like a live pit orchestra playing in a theater space. After weeks of work, the cast was ready for the next step to the process. Eric’s latest blog explores the magic that music makes and why we are so grateful for the band!
I was 11 when I learned a very important lesson about the way music affects an entertainment experience, often subconsciously. We were watching the opening clip of an episode of CSI for a “young detectives” summer camp I was attending. In the scene, investigators were searching the scene of a murder for the first time, and as they uncovered evidence the show would cut to quick flashbacks of what may have happened based on that evidence. But the first time we watched it, our instructor couldn’t get the volume to work. We made it all the way through the clip, which was quite full of dark imagery, terrified actors, and altogether scary moments, and I had no visceral reaction. Then our instructor got the volume to work, and we watched again. I’ll never forget the confusion I felt upon watching a scene I had already seen, but this time around, even though I knew what was coming, I was terrified.
My entire reaction changed because what we often think of as “background” music and sound effects started playing, and they drastically affected the entire scene. And as with our recent sitzprobe, I’m often still surprised by how much a show changes when the music is there to set up and fill out the environment. We’ve been rehearsing so far with rehearsal tracks or piano accompaniment, but sitzprobe is the first night where the entire band and the entire cast meet and begin to meld. It’s always been and always will be one of my favorite moments in the entire process of putting together a show.
All of a sudden, we could feel this show for what it really is. The drums would kick in and we could audibly experience the pulse and pace of the show clear as day. The strings would show up in the background of a scene where there had previously been silence, and any emotions we were feeling were emboldened ten-fold. The large musical moments got HUGE, and the moments where the band cut out became stunningly silent.
If you want to learn the story of Spring Awakening and play it out in your mind as you believe it to be, then there’s an excellent book for you to read in the comfort of your own home. But if you’re coming to see our show, then you’re signing up for a full-sensory experience in the way that we’ve decided to create it for you, and that just cannot be done without a band. Those incredible people don’t get nearly enough credit for just how large a part of the show they are.
We’re just about to go into tech rehearsals, which is where we add scenery, lights, sound mixing – elements that will continue to elevate this show to a controlled place of true artistic achievement, even though you as an audience will never see the faces of the artists involved. But we just couldn’t do the show with out them, and this week, we’re celebrating our musicians who permeate every moment of this beautiful piece, even if they physically choose to remain in the background.
So let’s hear it for the band!