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The Fantasticks
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Playing keyboard harp in The Fantasticks in West Springfield is a new experience for me, and I love it!

We’re halfway through the 2nd week of a 7-week run.  This is what I’ve learned so far:

Plan ahead!

We have 2 days off.  All errands, appointments, and long phone calls (the ones that keep you on hold for an hour) need to be done during those 2 days, as there is very little free time otherwise.

Have a substantial meal at lunch, as late as possible.

You’re not going to get dinner at the time you’re accustomed to, and you really don’t want to eat dinner at midnight.

If you’re into caffeine, have it before the show.

Last week I had a glass of iced tea at intermission (9 p.m.), and was alert for the second act, and also awake until 4 a.m.

It’s important to say hello, get along with everyone, and work together.

Get to know everyone, including the box office staff, the house manager, the stage hands, everyone.  People will remember your name and help you out.

You can never own too much black.

The actor who has the most experience always credits others, taking very little for himself.

Glissandi can be played with the palm side of the hand.

(The Wikipedia definition is probably more than you want to know…)

When you time a gliss carefully, you can end on the note below the following chord.  To play the chord accurately, I finish the gliss an 8th note before the chord in order to reset my hand.  This type of writing must be a harp thing.  I’ve never encountered the same in piano music.

Stuff happens!  Deal with it!

Being aware is crucial, as stage mishaps can affect the actors’ timing.  So far in this show we have had a keyboard playing the sound from hell on its own, an actor’s sprained ankle (not from the show!), a prop in a slightly awkward place, props mistakenly dropped on the floor, and a ripped dress x3.

Did I mention that I’m having a blast?

What have you learned in the theater?  Please share your experiences in the comment section below!

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