Los Angeles Valley College - Crown Yearbook (Valley Glen, CA)

 - Class of 1974

Page 72 of 120


Los Angeles Valley College - Crown Yearbook (Valley Glen, CA) online yearbook collection, 1974 Edition, Page 72 of 120
Page 72 of 120

Los Angeles Valley College - Crown Yearbook (Valley Glen, CA) online yearbook collection, 1974 Edition, Page 71
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Los Angeles Valley College - Crown Yearbook (Valley Glen, CA) online yearbook collection, 1974 Edition, Page 73
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Page 72 text:

Blowing his trombone to the tune of "A Bushel and a Peck," Mike Browne contributes to the performance. Featured in silhouette, Renee Carpenter showcases her expertise on the french horn. Pit Orchestra lt'e hate Llp Friont That Counts By Margot A. Meyer Illustrated by Robert Lachman and john Rosenfield Nostalgia is in and chauvanism is out. But even with a title that would enrage any devout woman's liberation advocate, "Guys and Dolls" won the Valley College audience over this spring with its nostalgic '40's music. "There is a revival of nostalgia music that goes back to the turn of the century," said production orchestra member Mike Browne. "Music is going backward so most people are turning back to the big band sound of the '40's." Playing this music was an opportunity for the small group of orchestra members to discover the particular musical styles that the era of tango, rhumba, and samba produced. The production, or pit, orchestra provided a training ground for students who were planning for a musical occupation. "Working in a pit orchestra is one of the greatest experiences that a student can get considering that there are not many outside performances that will hire them," said Browne. He has found that the current music circuit of the Los Angeles area is very self contained. Valley's pit orchestra started to provide the practical experience and training needed for employment last year with "Man of La Mancha." What exactly is a pit orchestra? "It is basically like an augmented dance band with strings," said Conductor Irvin Pope, instructor of music. "The group is much smaller and, unlike the music of a symphony, the pit orchestra music is constantly changing moods, styles, tempo, and rhythm," he added. Locations of production orchestras vary from play to play, but their usual position is in front of the stage in a sunken area or 'pit' ifrom which they receive their second name.J This traditional position facilitates the orchestra's sound and syncronization through the conductor to the actors on stage. This position has not been traditionally placed for the musicians' viewing pleasure. Because the musician is, in effect, buried from sight, the pit orchestra attracts a particular type of devoted musician who does not crave the usual center-stage position that a symphony orchestra provides. "lt takes a certain kind of person who enjoys playing for the pleasure of that kind of music," said Pope. "lt's a different set of responsibilities that a musician doesn't have in a regular performing group. They must be super-musicians." Instrumentation of a pit orchestra creates a major difference in the musicians' duties. "Because they are each playing an individual part, every member has to produce, or that particular

Page 71 text:

and unzipped herself out of another, sharing her identity crisis with other chorus members. Miss Freeman, a theater arts major, said through her experience with the show she has learned that chorus members must primarily develop their body movements as opposed to a leading actor's need to construct a strong characterization. The cast religiously performed warm-up exercises, sacrificing 30-minutes to offer their body muscles and vocal cords flexibility which was essential in determining the production's success. Habitual daily rehearsals began with the show's spotlighted dancer Tara Sitser, leading the cast in body warming exercises. From there the group went "Ha-ha-ha-ha-haing," and "Nee-nay-nee-nay-nee- ing," under the direction of Hank Fellin, in prepara- tion of the evening's four-hour rehearsal. "It's a good feeling to learn," said Chuck Shapiro, explaining he had come close to passing out during beginning rehearsals when song and dance were incorporated. "Music has always been a really important part of my life," he said. Pianos, flutes, saxophones and organs have all felt his adroit fingers stroking their keys, and guitar strings have experienced his strum- ming. He said that the first time a full orchestra accom- panied the rehearsals, a surging motivation en- hanced his characterization, making him truly one of the "Guys" "The movements have to be really tight," said Shapiro, and Miss Freeman agreed, pointing out that even when you have the dance routine down pat, there's still the area of costuming to contend with. "During the Havana night club dance, the girls have these big headdresses, and we wear a strapless bra top," she said. "If you lean back too far, the hat falls off and chokes you while you're dancing, then, at the same time, your blouse falls off and you step on your skirt-it's really crazy." Whatever preliminary loose ends the "Guys and Dolls" had to tailor to perfection, their production was tight and closely bound to perfection. Always willing to venture a gamble, Addison Roudall llettl and John Walker debate the color of his tie. Going to all lengths to win a bet, Addison Roudall introduces Theresa Candida Ueftl to the broad spectrum of physical pleasures as Tara Sitser trightl taunts Roudall's gambling instincts. Always a main attraction at the neighbor- hood night club, Chris Norris attracts . x?i. a sizable audience. In search of an ideal location, the "Guys" rally in support of continuing the floating crap game. 67

Page 73 text:

1 C- Becky Burlo serves a vital service with her violin for the thespians on stage. 3551 Concentrating intently on her music, Betty Laster plays her violin while cast members take center stage. Jay Seiden plays his clarinet during the rendition of "Fugue for Tin Horns. " part is lacking," said Pope. Conversely, a member of a symphony usually has two to ten instrumentalists on the same part, Another difference is created by combining the varied skills of vocalists, dancers, actors, and musicians into one cumbersome package. The pace and timing of the play rests on the musicians' entrances and tempo. "The actors, singers, and dancers are totally dependent on the orchestra so there has to be a complete awareness and alertness on the part of the musicians," said Pope. Because of the limited area alloted to the orchestra, there is great difficulty in the maneuverability of certain instruments. "You have people crawling on top of you to find their places," said Browne. Lack of exposure didn't bother Brown during "Guys and Dolls," but he did agree that it "takes a more advanced player with a professional attitude" to perform in a pit orchestra. Because of the experience gained last year in previous musicals, many problems in organizing the factions of a musical were eliminated in "Guys and Dolls." l Long before the pit orchestra see their original Broadway scores, Pope puts in hours of homework. His preparation includes making mental and written notes on changes in tempo, editing, and changes in cues in the conductor's score. He must watch and work with the actors before the first notes of the score are played by the orchestra. "The more I see the production, the more I am able to convey the mood of the music to the orchestraf' said Pope. "The score gives you the basic notes but it doesn't tell you all that you have to know." These moods that must be conveyed to the orchestra are essential to the overall effect of the play. One section of the play is set inside a Salvation Army Mission, so the music is sometimes very simple and church-like, and other times it is like a Salvation Army Band. The same holds true for the music that accompanies a scene in a second-class night club. "The music sets the mood, and, in certain cases, helps to identify the characters," explained Pope. That identification with nostalgic '40's music provided "Guys and Dolls" with an added audience appeal. "People get more out of a musical because there are more people involved," said Browne. "The audience can have a whole story told to them with music and acting." That whole story was well received this spring with the production of "Guys and Dolls." From a bird's eye view, Ken Pierce performs on the drums with the pit orchestra. ,,.4" -.lg , - . ..H" G'J5 ' Ali- Par?-:Qi- , .Zi -.-, .. 'xdliwf 69

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