Behind the Curtain with Rhonda Vaughan

Musical Direction is something I’d always wanted to do and I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to do this for the first time at Beaumaris Theatre when Debbie Keyt asked if I would be the Musical Director for Return to the Forbidden Planet in 2003. Fifteen years later, it’s great to be still be part of a production team with Debbie Keyt as Director and Camilla Klesman as Choreographer.

Debbie explained much of what is involved in putting a musical on stage in her article in the last newsletter. As well as being a wonderful director, Debbie does much of the producing of the show as well. Her talent, people skills and organisation skills are second to none, which makes the whole process from auditions to performances enjoyable for everyone involved.

The audition part of the process, from a Musical Director’s point of view, involves finding performers with the right type of voice for each of the lead parts, as well as finding ensemble members who can add backing singing and multi-part harmonies to the songs as required.

Early on, it’s also important to source the musicians that we need for the band. Good musicians have to be booked well ahead and I am lucky to have our drummer/percussionist Keith Morgan to assist me with this job. Keith is a very experienced musician who has played in over 500 shows!

Another person who is essential in the rehearsal process is our accompanist. Sue Paterson has very ably filled that role for us for several years now and she is a delight to work with. Sue also plays in the band for the run of the show.

Later in the rehearsal process, the scores for each member of the band arrive and we rehearse together a couple of times before rehearsing with the cast. It’s always great to see the reaction from the cast the first time they hear the band play and when we add costumes and lighting, it all adds so much more to the production and we know that opening night is then not far away.

I hope you’ve all booked your tickets for ‘Chicago’. They’re selling fast!

Rhonda Vaughan - Musical Director