Friday, September 18, 2009

Music and Comedy

Posted by Doug Peck (Animal Crackers Music Director)

Hello from Doug Peck, music director of Animal Crackers.

As we enter our fourth week of rehearsal, I have the privilege to accompany this virtuosic company as we drill comedy routines, stage dances and perfect everything from miming harp playing to working with bullwhips. Running between the two rehearsal rooms with these amazing nine actors feels like rehearsing a variety show!

The music in this piece functions differently than the music in a lot of my traditional theater work. Marrying the comedic moment onstage to the right underscoring, when appropriate, is a constant effort. And we are constantly discovering the charm of the music from the 1920s, which could be considered “naive.” The word "naive" often has a judgmental connotation, but it needn’t. As post-Hammerstein, post- Sondheim artists we are always striving for more in terms of storytelling and emotional events, but the songs in this production don't require that. They do, however, require exquisite vocalism, charm and grace—as well as killer arrangements.

Many of these gorgeous songs have fallen out of popularity, and I think the audience will be delighted to discover them. You will be surprised at just how much music is in the show, since the Marx Brothers’ movies tend to have long gaps between musical sequences. It is a complete joy to work with (director) Henry Wishcamper and the team on how best to adapt a film comedy into a stage musical without losing a drop of the fun.

We look forward to sharing Animal Crackers with the Goodman audiences, since comedy and music aren't complete without you!

See you at the theater,

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the post!
    And may I congratulate you for some excellent arrangements! The music was very well suited to the comedy and the nostalgic "art deco" mood. I felt like I was watching an Astaire/Rogers movie. I think my favorite number was "The Blues My Naughty Sweetie Gave to Me"; a great arrangement of a classic tune, and so well performed by both the musicians and Mara and Jessie.
    May I ask how you got into music directing for theatre? Any advice for aspiring young arrangers/composers like myself?