This past week I had the privilege of playing in the pit for my high school’s production of The Wizard of Oz. The only other time I’ve ever played for a musical was when I was a sophomore in high school and guess what the musical was…yep. The Wizard of Oz. It was incredibly fun to relive such an enjoyable experience. I have very fond memories from the first production, which at the time I thought was so over-the-top, but my-oh-my, LCA has come such a long way in the past 9 years.
The first time around, we had a fabulous cast, but from what I can observe from the yearbook, Toto was a…poodle?!
This time, we had a flying Glinda and two professional dogs straight from Broadway or somewhere famous…unbelievable!
So, without further adieu–lessons I learned from the pit of the Wizard of Oz:
- Always, always, always beware of flying apples.
- You can’t always just click your ruby red slippers to go home.
- Being Glinda the Good Witch’s theme can be a little annoying when she gets stuck in mid-air. (Ab-Eb-F-D-G-Db)
- The saying that the piano is a crutch? Totally true; however, in this case, it was so much more than a crutch–it was my wheelchair.
- When in doubt, leave it out.
- Sometimes Lion can’t get his belly zipped–and it’s hilarious.
- A dog on the stage always steals the show.
- If you really want to live on the edge, eat bacon right before a performance where the dog is staged right next to you. My hands wreaked of the best bacon in the world (from Saul Good) even though I had washed them. Considering I was starting to drool a little myself, I was really concerned that Toto might get a whiff and dive on top of me like that dog in the Beggin’ Strips commercial.
- Timpani make the coolest scary sounds! (Well, next to a bow on a cymbal.)
- “Who else would wear ruby slippers with those socks?” Who knew the Wicked Witch was so aware of fashion?!
- I still hate fire in any shape, form, or fashion. Pyrotechnophobia came into play even in a school musical. Thank you, Wicked Witch of the West.
- Light is good–especially when it gets dark, but take heed lest your light blinds someone in the audience.
- Stand lamps make exceptionally wonderful hand warmers for those with the circulation of a 94 year-old lady such as myself.
- Playing recorder during the Scarecrow solo never gets old.
- The yellow brick road is more like a road block to some.
- Sometimes it’s necessary to practice fingerings for “The Cyclone” on a pencil in the doctor’s office waiting room. Other times, it’s more appropriate to practice a piccolo part on your lunch break in your car in the Pizza Plaza parking lot. (Because why would I risk damaging everyone else’s ears with high pitches when I could risk damaging my windshield?)
- The Scarecrow may not have a brain, but he has some awfully wise words. Case-in-point…
Dorothy: “How can you talk if you haven’t got a brain?”
Scarecrow: “I don’t know, but some people without brains do an awful lot of talking, don’t they?”
- 3 hours a day for a week is an awfully long time to hold a flute/piccolo/recorder and be intensely mentally engaged–especially when you haven’t played in a real ensemble in well over 3 years and have had a record busy week at your full-time job. BUT OH SO WORTH IT!
- I think I should’ve been born in 1939 considering how much I love the Jitterbug.
- P.S.–I love real jitterbugs, too. And crows. (Even though in real life, I hate birds.)
- “Hearts will never be practical until they are made unbreakable.” So true, Mr. Wizard.
- The more I’m around dramatic people, the more dramatic I become. You should’ve heard my normal conversations by the end of the week. Oh my. Every time I opened my mouth, I would think, “Who iiiiis this girl talking?”
- Thank God for alternate fingerings.
- I can’t look at Mrs. B. Ever. Her faces are far too hilarious and draw tears every time I look up–especially during the 29th repeat of “Ding, Dong the Witch is Dead!” when she has thrown her head back in misery and is still conducting!
- The little boy in the front row the second night was a smart one–he plugged his ears every time I had to hit that High Ab on piccolo in the Stars & Stripes Balloon Ascension quote. Good call, my friend. Good call.
- “I already played this once. Can I go home now?” (Jenny references a Friends episode on our third round of the show). I don’t think this is technically a lesson, but it was really funny and I didn’t want to forget it.
- Life would be a whole lot more convenient if I could eat a sandwich during rehearsal. Unfortunately, I don’t just play one-handed boom-chicks during vamps.
- There are some experiences you just don’t want to end and when they do, you feel like Dorothy as she sits and watches the yellow brick road being ripped up after the show.
Oh you sweet Ozian orchestra, you were delightful to play with. Thank you for putting up with my out-of-shapeness. And to the cast–extraordinary job. What a joy it was to see you use your talents to make much of the One who gave them to you.