VOS Theatre caught up with The Music Man’s Orchestra Director Jill Baker for a chat. Here’s what we learned.
VOS THEATRE: You are such an important part of the VOS family. Actors love looking down in the pit and knowing you’ve got them covered and production teams love the fact that you have fun doing what you do and you pull it all together for us. Tell us about leading an orchestra with a group of local musicians.
Jill Baker: Musicals are like a big family pot-luck and I am so honoured to have the best seat in the house! There is so much talent involved in making this all come together from the directors vision to the seamstress’ last stitch to the tuning of the instruments. After seeing the two groups rehearse separately, the day the cast and pit get together to sing through the show is when the magic really begins for me. Everyone plays an important part, I just signal the musical changes to keep the magic alive for the audience.
VOS: Has music always been an important part of your life?
Jill: Absolutely! My family is filled with talent at the piano in bands and choirs and a huge portion of my family sings Barbershop. I’ve been to many countries because of different bands and have proudly worn 3 different military uniforms.
VOS: You’re a talented musician as well as a conductor/orchestra director. What do you play? Where did you learn?
Jill: I’ve pretty much done it all except oboe and bagpipes but only dabbled in a few string instruments. I studied trumpet at the University of Western where I learned so many tricks for all the instruments. Currently I play percussion instruments, primarily the timpani. One of the joys in the arts is that you work with so many people from different experiences and are constantly learning from each other.
VOS: You do a lot of work in the community with theatre companies and with The Concert Band of Cobourg What is it that fuels you?
Jill: People! Even in long rehearsals so many fun things happen to make us all laugh and I love reminiscing together during social times. I also love being so close with the audience with the VOS shows. It’s fun having a chat with them during intermission.
VOS: The Music Man – tell us about the score or about what drives the music in this show.
Jill: This is such a classic musical in many ways but it’s hard to find anyone who hasn’t heard the song Goodnight Ladies or 76 trombones! The amazing pairing of the melodies creates fun harmonies in Lisa Rose/ Will I everTell you and Goodnight my Someone/76 Trombones. If you don’t leave the show with a bunch of tunes in your head then … Ya got Trouble!
VOS: Your girl is in this production with the VOS! She’s such a lovely addition to the team. Fun right?
Jill: Oh my gosh yes! It’s a bit of surprise but it’s amazing to see her excitement hard work and dedication to catching up with all the choreo. I can’t wait to see her in those cute costumes!
See Jill and her orchestra at the VOS Theatre Production of The Music Man runs from April 25th to May 4th at Victoria Hall in Cobourg.
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