Work Of Panto Orchestra Praised

theatre town hallIf you’re off to the panto at the Town Hall his weekend, you’re being asked to consider how the musical backing and spectacular set enhances the show.

Bandmember Chris Garratt says the role of the seven-piece pit orchestra has been overlooked in previous reviews of the excellent plays put on by St Mary’s Theatre Club.

The musicians provide accompaniment for song and dance routines and they also perform incidental music, linking scenes, covering scene changes and the vital cymbal crash punctuation to mark the corny gags.

Chris says the musicians work with the actors from the start of the production work in October. They help the cast choose songs for the different characters in the show.

In the first few rehearsals, the band accompany the numbers using just violin and piano, trying different keys best suited to the vocalists’ ranges.

Then they expand the piano sheet music into full orchestral scores.

It’s a long process and Chris says each piece takes about a week to arrange using composing software.

Balancing the volumes between unamplified vocals and the band takes some skill too.

Chris says the musicians, like the actors, enjoy the part they play in the pantomime’s success. And they hope the audience will appreciate their hard work.

‘Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp’ is on tonight and Saturday at 7.30pm in the Town Hall and there’s a Sunday afternoon show at 2pm.

This year’s orchestra members are: Mervyn Bird (trumpet), Debby Crane (Musical Director and violin), Chris Garratt (saxophone), Keith Hale (bass guitar), Kevin James (trombone), Piers Lewin (saxophone) and Julia Mackenzie (keyboard).