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Mackintosh Meets Union, Answers 'Virtual' Charge - london news - whatsonstage.com

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Rob
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https://www.broadwayworld.com/l.cfm?id=19002

Can the pit genuinely only accommodate 10 musicians or are they cutting a corner I wonder?
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Oh my God, that sounds like the biggest bunch of bunk to me. Any statement that talks about delivering "the best sound possible by using the most up to date music technology combined with live musicians" scares the hell out of me. It is absolutely another step toward virtual orchestras no matter what kind of B.S. Mackintosh tries to wrap it up in. What did these smaller theatres do 30 years ago? They clearly found room for the orchestra somewhere.
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Updated On: 1/20/04 at 11:32 PM
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How ridiculous! People don't shell out $100 to hear a machine play the music! We want an orchestra! Imagine if the Chicago or Wonderful Town bandstands were full of machines. Ugh!
leeinlondon
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"Claude-Michel Schonberg, composer of Les Miserables added: “In 2004, when the set and lights are directed by computer and not manually like in the past, it seems unthinkable that that we should not be able to use the most up-to-date technology to create the best sound possible. "

Yes indeed have the best sound possible... real musicians !!!!!


I see they don't plan to pass on any saving to customers... but the real point is that customers should fight this move to pre recorded / synthesised music. It saves them money but the quality of the music presented is obviously damaged.

Let us not forget that ticket prices are rising as the quality of product offered falls... and we as the customers should say we will not accept that. They should not have chosen that particular venue if they could not present same quality of product.. end of story.
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From the British Who's Who in the theatre circa 1970 the 'working dimensions of London Theatres'...
Palace Theatre orchestra pit can hold up to 30 musicians and the Queens Theatre is listed as 12.
Hasn't the Queens Theatre (which Mac Intosh owns) just undergone a huge renovation? Surely he can remove one row of seats to maintain the quality of the show, after all it has been something of a money tree for him for years hasn't it?
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ckeaton
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Well... I'm sure the 12 musicians to 10 was somewhat driven by the size of the 2-3 keyboards & equipment that currently make up the Les Mis pit. Considerations that weren't as much of a problem in the late 60's early 70's.
Hamlet's father.
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So you're saying he should close the show instead of scale it back? Unemply a few hundred more people instead of ten more musicians? Well that seems sensible.
leeinlondon
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"So you're saying he should close the show instead of scale it back?"

No Fool !!

I am saying he should have chosen a better theatre to transfer to... it is not as if this was a spur of the moment decision since he has had many many months to plan this.... and ample opportunities to take other bigger theatres. Cameron has taken back the lease for the Queens from Andrew Lloyd Webber early so he has taken that rent free option to shoe horn a big show into a small space.

This is about business end of show business not about what is best for the show.
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Does anyone know if the cast is being scaled back as well?
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leeinlondon
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Yes, in a statement producer Cameron Mackintosh said "The smaller stage at the Queens Theatre can now only accommodate 5 people however we have chosen the best actors from the current production in a move designed to ensure that only the best possible actors available are on stage".

Claude-Michel Schonberg, composer of Les Miserables added "My original vision included only five actors, in the year 2004 we now have lights, staging and musicians controlled by computer so why not virtual actors. In a move that may surprise some we have raided the Disney Hall of Presidents. Cossette will be played by Abraham Lincoln"
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The real issue here is the decision to implement RealTime Solutions' "Virtual Orchestra". The replacement of musicians in favor of computer and audio equipment is sad statement for what is supposedly our own aesheticism. Quite frankly, comparing the automation of sets and lights to computer generated music is an insult to anyone with a pair of ears! Remember, the use of synthesizers and samplers is to augment the sound to make the orchestra sound bigger which, as the producers know, is the desired sound. When Broadway musicians were fighting for minimums, the producers insisted they were unneccesary citing the West End as an example, as they have none. Les Miz is clearly an example of their true intentions. This does not bode well for the future of musical theatre as we know it. Live music in the pit must be preserved. One of my biggest fears is that my 2yr old daughter may never hear a real violin in a Broadway pit. This is only the beginning folks. The only way to fight it is for the public to back the London musicians and make it clear to the producers that the audience will not pay the hight ticket prices to hear canned music. It's still called a MUSICal isn't it? (Dancical, Dramacical, anyone?) I apologize for running on, but I'm fairly passionate about the saving of live music.
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alterego - The Queens is undergoing renovation (financed by Cam Mac) in 2006. Which means of course, that he is opening Les Mis already knowing that he will have to close or transfer again in 2 years. Don't really see the logic in that one...
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I WANT LIVE MUSIC! and I want my theater/orchestra friends to keep the jobs they've paid their dues for and support their families with !! GO SEE A MOVIE if you want a soundtrack! You wanna see a MAC Attack? Don't get me started on this subject.

You folks have now met PENNY!!! my evil twin... When I review Les Miz in Philly in March..if there's not a full live orchestra...PENNY will don her one-woman band outfit ....jump into the pit and play...spew green while her heads rotates...It will NOT be a pretty sight!

Pati/PENNY#*%#
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All this fuss over a loaf of bread?

Why don't they try re-orchestrating the show? It might be an improvement. Scale the whole thing down a bit and simplify, for pity's sake.

That said, I have to add that things are so overamplified these days that most of what we hear has gone through so many wires before it hits our ears. So unless they use no amplifacation at all we are not really hearing TRUE live music anyway.

PEACE.
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I hope he just closes the show rather than fight with the union.

Hey, it's not his fault someone had the bright idea to major in cello and now wants to make a living at it.

Theater should be using newer musical styles anyway.
leeinlondon
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"Theater should be using newer musical styles anyway."


You have just convinced me that you have no idea what you are talking about. It is not about style it is about replacing LIVE music with a computer programme.
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I know exactly what I'm talking about, Lee. He's trying to simulate a twenty-piece orchestra using a tiny handful of live musicians and sampling and tracking to simulate the other instruments. I've done it before, I've used the technology. I know exactly what I'm talking about.

It's trying to create that glorious orchestral sound without having an orchestra on hand.

Which wouldn't be a problem if people weren't trying to create full orchestral scores and were focusing on the musical styles of even the early 20th century and not constantly trying to write period pieces or constantly trying to fake emotion with string swells all over their scores.

Maybe if some composers were friggin' original and able to generate emotion with a tight, small instrumentation, producers wouldn't be so curious as to what the alternatives are to stuffing 20 people into an orchestra pit.
Updated On: 1/21/04 at 04:31 PM
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We're not talking about a small reduction in an orchestra. But when you go from 20+ down to 7 and canned music or the push for all canned music. It's not about the sound, it's about people and the real theater. God knows they are pocketing the profits.

It would be no better than deciding to cut the cast in half, after the fact that they are contracted to perform. It's not like MacIntosh didn't see this comming or can't afford the full orch. Re-Orchestrate Les Miz? Think about that , dear.

So maybe you do or don't know any broadway musicians, but job security is job security. It's not like these people can pick up a job at Home Depot any more than an actor would do so.

Not to mention the fact that some theater audiences deserve to get the cast as well a decent orch. for the $80-$100. Sure, let's cut the orchestra, maybe hire those talented folks who work for $400 a week. No one will know the difference.

Sorry, these things really twist my knickers. Better quit while I'm still nice!
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Except one thing - Tickets to shows in London are substantially cheaper than Broadway.

But you can bet that if they reduce the orchestra (thereby reducing salaries), they're not dropping the ticket prices.

Which was probably your point anyway....
"What can you expect from a bunch of seitan worshippers?" - Reginald Tresilian
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I would miss the sound of a live orchestra! I don't know who has or has not been to a show with canned music, but there is definitly a difference between canned and live music! When I saw dance of the Vampires, despite the bad material...The orchestra ROCKED!!! It was one of the most amazing orchestras I had ever heard! Les Miserbales and Phantom of the Opera have always been popular, and one of the reasons is because of their amazing orchestras! I love theatre because it is live...I wouldn't love theater any less if they did start using canned music, but it would definitly be a hurdle for me to get over!

See Ya!

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I thought the transfer of Les Mis was because the Queens had been renovated. I know that the Prince of Wales (Mc Intosh owns) has been renovated and that is where Mamma Mia is going. It has a pit that can take 35 and larger stage than the Queens Theatre. I can't help but wonder why...may be it is just a general downsizing of Les Miz as the box office starts to slide. I mean who hasn't seen it by now, and if they have cut 20 minutes as well...

A couple of years ago here in Melbourne we had a musical which came here via Los Angeles called Sisterella, it was presented in a 2000 seat theatre. All of the music was on disc. The cast (chorus) learnt all their vocals and when they went into the theatre they were all told to grab a head set put it on and tuck the cords into their costumes(dummy headsets). Even their vocals had been prerecorded by others. The local musicians union complained. The result was that a string quartette rose from the pit to play a 90 second entr'acte, then descended. I think I was the only person who even noticed there was no orchestra. How sad is that!

P.S. The show bombed and lost close to $6million.
leeinlondon
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Ticket prices are no longer so much cheaper for major musicals in London.

Jerry Springer is £50 for most seats - thats $90 with current exchange rates.

We Will Rock You has £55 seats at weekends - $99.

Tonights the Night top price is also £55 - $99.

Les Mis top price is rising to £45 - $81.

Not so far away...... and it is not just a case of exchange rate changes.

When I moved to London 8 years ago top prices were £32.50 - $58


The top prices for tickets have almost doubled since 1996.
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My last trip to London in 2001, the exchange rates were much lower. £50 was about $75, sometimes less. But most shows had seats for £10-20 without discounts. Cheap seats like that are a rarity in NYC.
"What can you expect from a bunch of seitan worshippers?" - Reginald Tresilian