Orchestras on Stage

TheGingerBreadMan
Broadway Star
joined:12/7/12
Orchestras on Stage
Posted: 7/22/13 at 06:38pm
For a while now I have been wondering what shows choose to have the orchestra on stage. I know MEMPHIS and RENT are some, anyone know of others?
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broadwaydevil
Broadway Legend
joined:2/16/11
Orchestras on Stage
Posted: 7/22/13 at 06:41pm
Catch Me if You Can, Once, the Doyle revivals of Company & Sweeney Todd.
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dramamama611
Broadway Legend
joined:12/4/07
Orchestras on Stage
Posted: 7/22/13 at 06:42pm
Do you mean VISIBLE to to the audience?

Movin' Out (although suspended above the stage for much of it.)
Spring Awakening
Chicago

Lots of them.
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Broadway61004
Stand-by
joined:4/14/11
Orchestras on Stage
Posted: 7/22/13 at 07:28pm
Lots and lots of shows, but off the top of my head:

Cabaret
Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson
The most recent La Cage revival
Jersey Boys
Urinetown
Rock of Ages
Swing!
Fosse (at least for the finale)
All Forbidden Broadway shows (although it's just a piano)

And many, many others.
MaddieBB12
Broadway Star
joined:11/1/12
Orchestras on Stage
Posted: 7/22/13 at 07:41pm
13---and they were all kids.
blaxx
Broadway Legend
joined:6/28/05
Orchestras on Stage
Posted: 7/22/13 at 07:58pm
The revivals of Hair and Annie Get Your Gun
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all that jazz
Broadway Legend
joined:4/5/12
Orchestras on Stage
Posted: 7/22/13 at 08:08pm
Wasn't there also a Fiddler revival?

Not sure if they count but the John Doyle revivals of Company and Sweeney had the actors serving as the orchestra.

Updated On: 7/22/13 at 08:08 PM
bwayphreak234
Broadway Legend
joined:7/4/10
Orchestras on Stage
Posted: 7/22/13 at 08:29pm
I am really torn on having the orchestra onstage. I feel like there needs to be a reason for it to be onstage. Having an onstage orchestra for Catch Me If You Can was probably one of the worst decisions ever. It slowed the show (a show about a CHASE) to a snail pace. Plus it looked like the orchestra was in an oversized laundry basket.
"There’s nothing quite like the power and the passion of Broadway music. "
FlowerChild67
Stand-by
joined:7/11/12
Orchestras on Stage
Posted: 7/22/13 at 08:50pm
Broadwayphreak, I think the orchestra onstage for CMIYC made sense because the format of the TV variety show calls for it-much the same way Spring Awakening, where the songs are supposed have a concert feel, and Cabaret, which is, well, a cabaret, use musicians onstage. :)
jackieoh
Stand-by
joined:5/30/13
Orchestras on Stage
Posted: 7/22/13 at 09:06pm
Next to Normal had the orchestra onstage.
GavestonPS
Broadway Legend
joined:6/10/12
Orchestras on Stage
Posted: 7/22/13 at 09:08pm
I'm not saying they were the first, but in their day (1960s/70s), NO STRINGS and I LOVE MY WIFE were famous for not only putting the musicians on stage, but for using them as part of the staging and action.

And of course, FOLLIES calls for an on-stage "party band" that plays as well as the unseen orchestra.
bwayphreak234
Broadway Legend
joined:7/4/10
Orchestras on Stage
Posted: 7/22/13 at 09:16pm
"Broadwayphreak, I think the orchestra onstage for CMIYC made sense because the format of the TV variety show calls for it"

I think that concept in and of itself was a huge misstep, and the onstage orchestra didn't help.
"There’s nothing quite like the power and the passion of Broadway music. "
Gmerchant123
Featured Actor
joined:9/9/12
Orchestras on Stage
Posted: 7/22/13 at 09:18pm
In memphis did they have two different orchestra platforms? In the club it was just the basic five piece then during the finale it was a full orchestra. Do you know if they have two different orchestras?
ljay889
Broadway Legend
joined:8/4/04
Orchestras on Stage
Posted: 7/22/13 at 10:54pm
2008 Gypsy
#sadandtransparent
Amalia3
Swing
joined:7/9/13
Orchestras on Stage
Posted: 7/22/13 at 11:28pm
Oklahoma revival, orchestra was onstage behind a scrim which was occasionally lifted.

Grand Hotel orchestra was visible the whole time on a metal platform above the stage.

I don't mind it as long as it doesn't pull too much focus.
bwayphreak234
Broadway Legend
joined:7/4/10
Orchestras on Stage
Posted: 7/22/13 at 11:52pm
"Oklahoma revival, orchestra was onstage behind a scrim which was occasionally lifted. "

Which revival? Can you explain?
"There’s nothing quite like the power and the passion of Broadway music. "
orangeskittles
Broadway Legend
joined:1/8/05
Orchestras on Stage
Posted: 7/23/13 at 12:10am
Slightly related question. When did Broadway orchestras get so small? Specifically, when did the minimum musicians in a Broadway show get whittled down from the beautiful Golden Age era orchestrations to 8 people?

Someone I met insists it's the fault of the trend of putting orchestras onstage but none of these examples comes before the 1990s and I can't imagine the musicians union let it happen that quickly.
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adam.peterson44
Broadway Star
joined:9/7/11
Orchestras on Stage
Posted: 7/23/13 at 12:13am
The Last Five Years revival this year had the orchestra onstage, and the tour of Chess that came through Toronto 2 years ago had the actors also playing instruments onstage.
Theatrical Landladies
Leading Actor
joined:12/17/04
Orchestras on Stage
Posted: 7/23/13 at 10:46am
ANYTHING GOES (Lupone revival)
HIGH SOCIETY (London first stage production)

I'm sure there are more than listed so far in this blog but can't think!!
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gchris11
Broadway Star
joined:5/7/13
Orchestras on Stage
Posted: 7/23/13 at 11:09am
Over The Rainbow

Orchestras under the stage: South Pacific
gchris11
Broadway Star
joined:5/7/13
Orchestras on Stage
Posted: 7/23/13 at 11:12am
not sure if this counts

The last revival of Company (The actors played)
Passing Strange
AEA AGMA SM
Broadway Legend
joined:8/13/09
Orchestras on Stage
Posted: 7/23/13 at 12:01pm
"Slightly related question. When did Broadway orchestras get so small? Specifically, when did the minimum musicians in a Broadway show get whittled down from the beautiful Golden Age era orchestrations to 8 people?

Someone I met insists it's the fault of the trend of putting orchestras onstage but none of these examples comes before the 1990s and I can't imagine the musicians union let it happen that quickly."

I couldn't say an exact year, but it was a fairly steady decline through the 70s and 80s as some shows began adopting a more contemporary sound and thus needed smaller orchestras (you don't need a huge string section for a show that has a rock influenced score, for example). The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas famously battled AFM over the orchestra minimums since their country style band employed less than was required at their theatre. They ended up having to pay those extra people who were not playing, and required those people to show up and sit at the theatre to earn those checks.

Along with the rise in the contemporary sound you also had the rise in electronic instruments, especially synthesizers, giving the impression that certain instrument sections could be reduced or eliminated completely in order to save money, and, to a lesser extent, space.

I would definitely disagree that it was a result of shows trying to put the orchestras onstage.
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LimelightMike
Broadway Legend
joined:6/21/06
Orchestras on Stage
Posted: 7/23/13 at 12:09pm
I directed a production of NIGHT MUSIC that featured a visible orchestra.
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rorschach37
Broadway Star
joined:4/3/10
Orchestras on Stage
Posted: 7/23/13 at 12:38pm
American Idiot
Mr Roxy
Broadway Legend
joined:5/17/03
Orchestras on Stage
Posted: 7/23/13 at 03:35pm
First Date
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darquegk
Broadway Legend
joined:2/5/09
Orchestras on Stage
Posted: 7/23/13 at 03:36pm
My orchestrator has praised American Idiot and Tom Kitt for use of both a standard rock combo and a string trio, without emphasizing one to the detriment of another. It's Tom Kitt's signature setup annoy works very sell for the material.

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