This week’s #TBT comes from Robbie Cowan, who music directed and orchestrated our 2012 production of Sweeney Todd, transforming the original thirty-piece orchestration into a five-piece chamber version. His work on the show was called “luminous” and “in the same class as the best of Ligeti, Part, and Adams,” and earned him a Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Award nomination. Robbie also music directed our Triassic Parq this summer, and is currently the conductor and music director on the second national tour ofAnything Goes.
When I saw ROLT’s Tommy, I was impressed with the production values. A small, regional theatre with practically no outside funding put on a show whose spectacle rivaled that of most touring productions I was seeing come through town? I just couldn’t fathom how they managed.
A short time later, I found out first-hand. When I was asked to music direct Sweeney Todd, I was tasked with creating an orchestration that sounded as rich and full as audiences would expect but was made of only five players. How do you make five guys and a cast of sixteen sound like a thirty-piece orchestra with full chorus?
This scrappy theater company taught me the value in embracing your limitations. Instead of lamenting a lack of resources, you instead use those boundaries as creative inspiration. The director Ben Randle and I created an orchestral design that was intimate and kept people on the edge of their seats, where fewer players made for a more transparent interpretation of the score. At the end of the experience it wasn’t the reviews and accolades that I appreciated–it was the understanding that with the right people and the right attitude, almost anything is possible.
And just because we can’t resist, here’s Robbie “auditioning” for our production of Into the Woods last year:
Overall Musical Production
Alex Kirschner for Direction
Robbie Cowan for Musical Direction
Wendy Ross Kaufman for Costume Design
Annie Dauber for Set Design
Joe D’Emilio for Lighting Design
Lewis Rawlinson for Principal Male Actor in a Musical
Alex Rodriguez for Featured Male Actor in a Musical
Chelsea Holifield for Featured Female Actor in a Musical
Monica Turner for Featured Female Actor in a Musical
Acting Ensemble in a Musical
Congratulations to all the finalists!
If you missed it, catch our live-tweets of the nomination rollout–and #fakebwaytrivia–on our Twitter feed!
Congratulations to all the SF Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Award-winners, and especially our own David Möschler (music director, Into the Woods), Lauren Rosi (choreographer, Into the Woods), and Erik Scanlon (specialities-projections, CARRIE the Musical)!
We live-tweeted the ceremony, as always. Follow us on Twitter at @roltheatre!
James Monroe Iglehart, beloved Bay Area actor and director of Ray of Light’s 2005 Bat Boy, has been nominated for a Tony for his work in Broadway’s Aladdin. James has earned deservedly rave reviews for his performance as the Genie. Congratulations, James!
Into the Woods
David Möschler (Music Director)
Lauren Rosi (Choreographer)
CARRIE the Musical
Amanda Folena (Choreographer)
Cristina Ann Oeschger (Principal Musical-Female)
Heather Orth (Featured Musical-Female)
Ben Prince (Music Director)
Erik Scanlon Productions (Specialties-Projection Design)
More information on the awards, including the May 5th gala, at sfbatcc.org