Few gigs test your musicianship like theatrical work. In addition to having solid chops, you must be capable of giving consistently high-quality performances night after night, with full awareness of everything happening around you. You have to be able to listen for and react to cues from actors, watch the conductor for subtle tempo shifts, and vamp or jump to the next number at a moment’s notice, smoothly and without distracting the audience. Just as it is with film music, you’re most successful when the audience doesn’t realize you’re there.
For a taste of what it takes to make it on Broadway, we talk to Alex Lacamoire, whose hard work and versatility have earned him the highly coveted spot of music director for the hottest show in the country, Hamilton. And from multi-instrumentalist Seth Stachowski, we get exclusive peek inside the pit of Cirque du Soleil’s Paramour on Broadway.
Of course, theatrical gigs are not limited to the Big Apple. Every major city has a theater district, with shows ranging from big-production musicals to modest one-act plays. And don’t forget Las Vegas where, in addition to solo gigs and band work, there is a wide variety of performance opportunities for hard working keyboardists.
But whether or not you’re interested in playing in an orchestra pit, preparing for the demands of this type of gig will benefit every keyboardist pursuing a professional music career.