Santa Maria Sun / Music
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 13, Issue 17
Making musicals happenCallum Morris is the man in command of music at the Pacific Conservatory for the Performing Arts
BY JOE PAYNE
Santa Maria’s own Pacific Conservatory for the Performing Arts is a buzzing hive of activity. Actors, set designers, light technicians, and costume designers are working around the clock to make the world-class live productions of PCPA Theaterfest happen. And, as most great stage productions rely on music to tie things together, so does PCPA rely on musical director Callum Morris to tie the music together.
Born and raised in southern Ontario, Canada, Morris earned a bachelor’s degree in musical education before transferring to Arizona to get his master’s degree in musical direction.
“I am a musician, I love music, but I’ve always loved theater as well, so for me, musical direction was a way to combine those two things,” Morris said. “I was able to stay in the musical world but work in storytelling, which I really enjoy.”
After mailing out his résumé to many theater companies, he got a call back and position at PCPA, where he’s been for eight years now. He directed the music for many productions, including Beauty and the Beast, Ragtime, The Sound of Music, West Side Story, and Les Miserables.
Lately, Morris has been focusing on PCPA’s upcoming production of Legally Blonde, a musical rendition of the popular Hollywood film in which a young sassy blonde takes Harvard Law by storm. The process involved with getting the music for a stage production together is a long one, but as with any production involving music, it all begins with the score.
“One of the first things I do is sit down with the score,” Morris explained, “and then I start working with the casting director so he knows what the range of the singers needs to be, or of something specific because different productions ask for different things.”
Morris also collaborates with the set designer and the choreographer to work out timing situations, including set changes and dance numbers. Once he knows these things, he actually trims and edits parts of the score to match PCPA’s production. The conservatory will often develop a much different set or pacing than a play’s original Broadway rendition, and the music needs to reflect that.
A piano reduction score is a score that reflects what an orchestral ensemble will play but can be played on piano. Morris uses a piano reduction of the play to rehearse the actors in the musical sections of a production, paying close attention to vocals.
But when the time of the production rolls closer, the musical director schedules recording sessions with an orchestra. Morris hires the orchestra himself, calling on a pool of experienced local musicians to record the score at Allan Hancock College’s recording studio. At this time, Morris is aided hugely by sound designer Elisabeth Rebel who records, edits, and mixes the recording sessions Morris conducts.
Once the instrumental accompaniment for the show is recorded and ready to use, rehearsals will begin with those tracks. Each section of music is actually cued during the performance in order to provide the live feel the play needs. During the rehearsals—and even during the performances—either Morris or one of his assistant musical directors will conduct every musical section of the play. They can be seen on television screens only viewable by the actors on stage.
“We’ll still have a conductor at the performance that the actors can see,” Morris said, “but also so that the playback, the person who is working the computer with all the recordings on it, can see the conductor and know when to cue in the music.”
It all may sound complicated, but it’s just a day on the job for Morris and his group of colleagues—be they assistant directors, technicians, or sound designers.
“It’s just a very collaborative environment,” he said. “They make me feel comfortable pursuing my art, but they also make me feel comfortable in taking chances and doing things other production companies might not let me do.”
Sound of the west
Bluegrass West presents “The Very Lonesome Boys Bluegrass Show” featuring the Very Lonesome Boys performing bluegrass music on July 7 at 8 p.m. at St. Marks in the Valley, 2901 Nojoqui Ave., Los Olivos. Cost is $15. More info: 688-9894, firstname.lastname@example.org, or bluegrasswest.com.
The city of Santa Maria Parks and Recreation Department presents the much loved annual “Concerts in the Park” series, featuring 12 performances on Sundays July through September, including Livewire performing classic rock music July 7 from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Civic Center McClelland Street Corridor, 400 to 500 S. McClelland, Santa Maria. Regular concerts at Rotary Centennial Park include a live concert by Unfinished Business on July 15 from 1 to 3 p.m. at Rotary Centennial Park, 2526 S. College Drive, Santa Maria. More info: 925-0951, Ext. 260.
Tribute to the man in black
Manny’s Terrace Theater presents Jimmie Ray and Cyndi Cantrell in concert performing two tribute concerts to Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash, including “The Man, the Music, and Memories” July 7 at 7 p.m. and “Johnny’s Biggest Hits and a Gospel Concert” on July 8 at 2 p.m. at Manny’s Restaurant, 1693 Mission Drive, Solvang. Cost is $35. More info: 691-9137.
The Maverick Saloon offers live entertainment, including country rock music by Sean Wiggins and Lone Goat in concert July 6 at 8:45 p.m. followed by “Late Night with guest DJ’s” at 11:30 p.m. “Concert on the Deck” with Owen Johnston is July 7 at 3 p.m. Primal Tribe performs live rock music July 7 at 8:45 p.m. followed by “Late Night with DJ Totem” at 11:30 p.m. at the saloon, 3687 Sagunto St., Santa Ynez. More info: 686-4785 or email@example.com.
Contact Calendar Editor Joe Payne at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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