In 2006 I received a phone call from the York Symphony Orchestra. That, our first year, we interpreted eleven pieces of music including Pirates of the Caribbean, Star Trek, Jurassic Park, E.T., Superman, and the overture from William Tell. Since that time we have done Harry Potter, animals and famous stories galore, and last years multi ring Circus! Though it takes very little time to tell you about all these wonderful opportunities … putting them together is quit a process indeed.
First a cast is needed. I usually pull folks from those that indicate interest in the doing Symphony show on the most resent main stage audition forms. The largest group I can recall taking was 25 cast members always between the ages of 7 and 50 something. Then comes A LOT of listening to the music to first ‘See’ a story and then do the blocking. Rehearsals are always interesting. Trying to give the cast what I see in my head without the benefit of them having words to say is always daunting. While all of this is going on costumes, props and sometimes set pieces are simultaneously being dealt with. Costumes are always the largest need. In 2006, we gathered, fitted and transported 61 costumes for those first performances. We also needed a climbable tree, a fence and a pond for Peter and the Wolf’s set. There were also some fascinating props such as: giant cat toys for children size cats, 15 magic wands for wizard training at Hogwarts, Safari gear, bows and arrows and an apple that could be shot off a head without being touched. And of course all of it must be moved from DreamWrights to the Strand and back again. It’s a great deal, like running a marathon or cooking a meal. The preparation is lengthy, and then it’s over or eaten comparatively quickly.
If this sound like a lot of work that’s only because it is! So why did I say, “Yes” for the past Nine years? “Oh, my, there are so many reasons. It’s a wonderful opportunity for both the actors and the audience to share the visualization of a piece of music. The opportunity for the cast to perform with the YSO, and at the Strand is a forever memory. Finally, the challenge of putting it all together helps keeps me young!”
This year’s Beethoven’s 5th Symphony is the most difficult piece I have ever encountered. It is so fast and has such extreme emotional highs and lows. Though it is true that there are as many stories possible for a piece of music as there are listeners, I struggled with this one. I saw color first, and had an idea that was fun, but physically impossible for humans to do at tempo Beethoven has provided. As I carried the music and ideas around in my head, eventually the story you can see Saturday morning May 2nd, at 10:00 AM took shape. Some early rehearsal photos, that follow, may give you a clue.
No, I’m not going to tell you the story. It has to be seen, and heard, to be best appreciated. You can get tickets at the Strand or online. We hope to see you there!