Tag Archives: theatre

In Search of the Perfect Pit

I don’t know if it’s the same for “civilians,” but for theatre folk, the orchestra pit is a mythical place.

Okay, heck. I don’t even know if the actors even think of it that way. I just know that the musicians do. It’s a little clubhouse. The temple of a secret society. Dark. Usually cramped. A little room all its own for the musicians. No one else ever goes there. You can imagine.

Of course, that mythology grows more shallow or deepens with the depth of the pit. A pit that’s just a flat space in front of the first row? Not so much. There’s still some magic there, but it’s minor. One of those pits that is dropped six inches or so, maybe with rails and curtains around it? Considerably better. A pit that’s sunk a foot or two? Not bad. Not bad at all.

Pits have gotten deeper over the years, as audiences have become more fond of TV and film, and no longer want to see the musicians. I think the perfect pit would be about four feet deep. Deep enough to hide, and to consolidate the sound, but shallow enough to still be in the room. Oddly enough, in a 20-year career, I’ve never played in a pit like that. Used to be, most of the Broadway pits were like that, about four feet deep. You just caught the tops of the musicians’ heads as you watched. You can see it in pics of older shows. Nowadays, they’re nearly buried in the basement.

I was recently asked to sit in the piano chair for The Sound of Music in Lake Placid. I thought it might be fun, and I also remembered that they have at least some kind pit at the Arts Center. It’s usually has the cover over it, bringing it up to floor level, but I knew there was some kind of hole underneath there.

With my score in my hot little hand and The Lonely Goatherd in my head, I visited the Arts Center website to check the tech list and see if I could find out how deep the pit is. (Yeah, I’m obsessed.) One foot, six inches. Ah, well. At least we’re in the moderate mythology range. Meanwhile, I continue my search for the perfect pit.




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Hoo! One of those weeks folks.

We’re coming up on Winter Carnival week, so I have a few responsibilities there. Mostly just rehearsing for a concert. Doctor’s appointment for a check up this week. A few friends visiting. All good things! And of course, I’m getting this show we’re writing started – Thanks so much to those who are following our theatrical adventures at the show blog and on Facebook … The Facebook Group climbed to over 100 members in one day! If you’re on Facebook, the group name is “At Saranac,” the title of the show.

My friend Hideaway Hill gave me the best idea – Share my egg recipes. Being as we have tons of eggs from the girls, I have a ton of neat recipes. Here they are folks. They’re in my own recipe language, so if you have a question, just ask. Catch you before the weekend – I gotta go cook some eggs.

Breakfast Casserole
½ lb sausage – cooked
5 eggs
3 cups of cubed bread
1 ½ cups of milk
4 oz shredded cheddar cheese
1 t dry mustard
salt and pepper to taste
Mix all in large bowl – let sit so bread can soak. Butter 9×12 dish – pour all in – bake @ 375 for an hour.
Egg Noodles
l cup of flour for each egg
3 tbsp. rich milk for each egg
salt to taste
Mix together, might have to add a little flour to make a stiffer dough, or if you like the feel of the soft dough, just roll it using more flour to keep it from sticking . . . let dry for awhile, cut into strips and drop into boiling broth.  . . .cook until tender.
Baked Eggs
Place one or two eggs in a ramekin or in muffin tin with 1/2 tbsp of butter underneath. Add tbsp of cream to the top of each. Top with parsley and chives and cheese of your choice. Simmer in a pan of water on top of stove until done, or bake at 400F with a pan of water underneath.
Mayo Hater’s Egg Salad
Hard Boiled Eggs
Garlic Salt
Small Amount of Sour Cream
Finely Chopped Onion
Yorkshire Pudding
3/4 c. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 c. milk
4 tbsp. oil or drippings
Beat flour, salt, eggs, milk together until very smooth, scraping bowl occasionally. Refrigerate 2 hours or longer. Heat oven to 450 degrees. Measure oil into 8 x 8 x 2 inch square Pyrex pan. Heat for 2 minutes. Pour batter into pan and bake for 20-30 minutes. Do not open door. Serve immediately. When fresh from oven good Yorkshire pudding is a puffy irregular shaped golden mass, unlike any other baked dish. On standing a few minutes, the surface settles more or less evenly and when cut the outer crust is tender, crisp and center soft and custardy.
German Pancakes
(this makes enough for a pyrex dish approx 10X15 –
the next larger than 9X13)
9 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  While oven is heating, place 2 TBS butter in the pyrex dish and place in oven to melt.  Combine above ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. Take pan out of oven and swirl butter so it covers the bottom.  Pour batter over top.  Bake uncovered for 20 minutes.  It will puff up and look very interesting while it bakes, then falls when taken out of the oven.  The kids will love watching it! If you want to use a 9X13 size pan, reduce the eggs to 6, the milk and flour to 1 cup each, and use 1/2 tsp salt.  I still use the 2 TBSP butter.
Fried Rice
1 – 2 green onions, as desired
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon salt
Pepper to taste
4 tablespoons oil for stir-frying, or as needed
4 cups cold cooked rice
2 tablespoons light soy, oyster, or teriyaki sauce desired
cooked chicken or pork as desired
Wash and finely chop the green onion. Lightly beat the eggs with the salt and pepper. Heat a wok or frying pan and add 2 tablespoons oil. When the oil is hot, add the eggs. Cook, stirring, until they are lightly scrambled but not too dry. Remove the eggs and clean out the pan.
Add 2 tablespoons oil. Add the rice. Stir-fry for a few minutes, using chopsticks or a wooden spoon to break it apart. Make sure it’s nice and dry. Stir in the soy sauce or oyster sauce as desired. When the rice is heated through, add the scrambled egg back into the pan. Mix thoroughly. Stir in the green onion. Toss in some cooked chicken or pork if you like.


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A Musical About Tuberculosis?

You’ve got to be kidding.

We’re not.

Thanks for always asking about what projects I have going on, friends. Makes me feel like a little more than an RV Chicken Daddy. Ha! This next project is going to take up several months. I’m writing the score and co-writing the book for a new musical set in Saranac Lake at the Trudeau Sanitorium. It’s about a really cool guy named John Theodore Dalton, and he’s awesome.

The nifty part is this – I’d love to have your “online company” during the process! It’s only about one-fifth written, and we’re going to be documenting the process (and discussing it with the group of followers and friends) via a video blog which we’ll be updating in real time, as we are writing and rehearsing. Please do jump right in with us – You’ll be totally with us behind the scenes, and “in” on what works, what doesn’t; the joy, despair, songs going in, songs getting cut, choosing a performance site, ranting, raving … the whole deal.

It’s a new musical, it’s a monologue play, it’s a Social Media experiment, it’s a virtual workshop. As for the bizarre subject matter, well … we already have a teaser video up. Check it out! The show has it’s own blog site, and we have some info up already …



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Music Monday?

Oh, wait. It’s Wednesday. I’ve been (happily) buried in music since Monday, so it feels like one single, long, toodley-toot day.

My first piano student comes today – a kid I know well. Think he might be quite good! Hope so! Also hope the word will spread. I’m going to do some mentioning around and chatting it up this weekend. I’ve been cleaning the RV and the cabin/studio/thing in anticipation. Iron Out, anyone?

Finally joined the Community Orchestra (for real this time), and I need to find time to practice for that too. We have a concert coming up for Winter Carnival. Rehearsal again tomorrow evening.

And the biggee … I am twenty-four pages into writing the score and book for a new musical. A tiny one. Very small. Awesome. We’re reading the chunk I have down on paper tomorrow. I’d say I probably have half-a-first-act written down. I’m not quite at liberty to say what this is all about just yet, but I’ll leave you with this –

1. The topic and story of the show is very, very local.

2. It’s set in the mid-1920s.

3. We’re going to be creating a video blog, so folks can watch the progress of putting a small musical together from the ground up. That is, I’ll have a separate blog for the show. Awesome. Being as it’s a local story, I’m really excited about that part of the project.

4. The big announce is Monday! (There used to be a preview of the music below, but after a meeting, we decided to make some changes – had to take it down. Sorry. However – more to come Monday!)


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Playing With History

Friends, I’m in Philadelphia. 

Photo 6And don’t even think of going by to pester the girls (Miss Mona, Gwen, Shelley, and Doatsy Mae the chickens) – the neighbors are watching them. Said awesome neighbors are watching the dog and the hens, and we had a right nice drive down to The City of Brotherly Love. We’re at a friend’s home for the stay-over, and in the Edgar Allan Poe department, check out the Fortuitous Feline lodged here!

I think I’ve mentioned before – I adore Philadelphia. Absolutely adore it. Although, you’d expect as much, coming from a person who has watched the John Adams mini-series at least six times. Tomorrow, I’ll be in rehearsal at 2pm, and we’ll be performing the show at 7pm. I have to say, I’m more than a little excited. I do love playing it, and performing it on a 9′ Steinway is certainly better than a stick in the eye. 

I brought my Fl!p camera and tripod to video the show, but we perform it by candlelight and oil lamps only, so we’ll see if it comes out. Perhaps I’ll have some vid for you on Monday.

RittenhouseSquare1If you’re the curious history-buff type – We’re going to be playing in a space right on Rittenhouse Sqaure in the historic area, which is awfully cool. One of my favorite Philly places, along with Elfreth’s Alley. According to our friends at Wikipedia, “Rittenhouse Square is one of the five original open-space parks planned by William Penn and his surveyor Thomas Holme during the late 17th century in central Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.” 

You have an awesome weekend too!


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No Business Like Show Business

Well, you folks know how loathe I am to bore you with my personal non-homesteady and non-Adirondacky business … but since my friend Corky asked …

It’s that kind of day. Busy, busy. Not good busy – computer screen busy. We’re getting together a schedule and travel arrangements to rehearse a musical that I wrote the score for, which will be going to Philadelphia in October. Doesn’t sound too too challenging, travel arrangements, except you might remember – we’re not sure of the condition of the Jeep and such. Anyway. It seems to be working out.

halling_portraitConsequently, it’s also been time to get the printwork for the show together – programs and such. And we decided that it was time to opt for a new blogsite for the show. Sooo, I’ve been chained to my computer for a few days, html codes ablaze. What? I didn’t tell you what this thing I wrote is? It’s a serious-minded chamber musical about the life of Edgar Allan Poe. (Yes, yes. I know. A musical about Edgar Allan Poe sounds silly. But it’s not that kind of musical. Poe’s not exactly la-di-da-rah-rah.)

It’s curious. What with all of my activities lately involving digging and planting and ripping and tearing, jumping back into (even just a few minor) show responsibilities has me a bit rattled. But I know it’s just in my head. Luckily, the show’s ready and “in the trunk,” and all we have to do is take it back out and dust it off.

In October, Poe’s birthday bicentennial is being celebrated with a conference in his sometimes-hometown of Philadelphia, and we’ve been hired to bring the show down to them – even have a neat performance space in Old Town right on Rittenhouse Square. It’s really pretty exciting. I’m very proud of the score. (Working with Edgar Allan Poe as a lyricist ain’t to shabby either.) Should you like to hear a few snippets of some of the music I’ve written (or if you’d like to hear me play the piano), check out the media at the new blogsite – http://poemusical.wordpress.com/

We have some kinks to work out, but I don’t think my writing compatriot will be too too irritated that I’ve let the Black Cat out of the bag.


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