Blog By: Sydney Moody; Marketing Intern
What a great first blog we had! We got to see the ins and outs of theatre with our lead Joe Caskey, who plays the role of Billy Bigelow. In today’s blog, we’ll get to take a sneak peak into the life of David Andrew Rogers, who is our music director.
We wanted to know how Rogers became our music director and what his process of getting into the professional atmosphere was.
Rogers: “I grew up playing piano, singing in choirs, playing in band, that sort of thing. And I always loved the theatre – our family attended the theatre as regularly and frequently as we attended football games and church and everything else. It was just part of the fabric of our lives. I was lucky enough to do my first professional show when I was 12 – playing piano for rehearsals and in the pit orchestra for a summer theatre production of KISS ME KATE in Texas, and I was hooked. Although I studied Business at SMU, I began working consistently in local professional theatre in Dallas as a music director starting my freshman year of college. After working 17 years in Dallas, I moved to New York City and soon thereafter began my touring career – first as associate conductor of the Broadway National Tour of THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, and later as music director and conductor for many other Broadway national and international tours, including SHOW BOAT, LES MISERABLES, CATS, CHICAGO, FIDDLER ON THE ROOF, AN AMERICAN IN PARIS, and currently for the world tour of THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA. I’ve also conducted the New York Pops at Carnegie Hall in New York, the Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra in Harlem, and the Nebraska Jazz Orchestra. I am particularly fond of my six appearances as guest conductor of the Oklahoma City Philharmonic, as well as my nearly 30 years and nearly 50 productions for Lyric Theatre!”
A lot of people don’t really know what a music director does, so we’d thought we’d let him explain what he does throughout each day.
Rogers: “Every day looks different. If I’m rehearsing a show, there might be production meetings with the creative staff, or rehearsals with the cast or orchestra or both, or technical rehearsals. If I’m between shows, I might be studying scores and preparing for new productions. If I’m on tour, I might be supervising an understudy rehearsal, conducting the show at night, or working with new musicians in each new city of the tour. I also work a lot as a vocal coach and also as a coach and mentor for conductors. And I am frequently busy writing vocal arrangements and orchestrations for a wide variety of clients. Plus I am in the midst of writing two books: one about the business of musical theatre and one about effective working relationships among the various members of a production team.”
Lots of composers, music teachers, and music directors have their favorites and least favorites when it comes to music. As a music director, we thought it would only be right if we asked Rogers if he had a score of music (sheet music) that he loved or despised.
Rogers: “It’s like having lots of children – it’s hard to really say which one is your ‘favorite!’ I love them all. Truly. And I learn something from each of them, as well as from each actor and dancer and director and choreographer and musician with whom I am honored to get to work. So there really is something to love in each project. My current favorite is, of course, CAROUSEL, and I’m loving peeling away the layers and rediscovering why this show is such a classic. The music is so beautiful, and this cast sings and dances their hearts out. It is thrilling to me. And, of course, I love my other current show, THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA. I’ve conducted hundreds of performances of it, and I never tire of that score – it’s just glorious! I’ve had the honor of conducting it all over the world, and I learn something new – about the show, about the score, about myself – every performance. Despise? No. There are shows I like more than others, but so much work and passion and love goes into every score, it would be ungrateful to despise any of them!”
Just as every theatre kid has their go-to playlist, we were curious if Rogers had his favorite genre of music or go-to playlist.
Rogers: “Any. All. I love classical music. I love jazz. I have a soft spot for so-called easy listening music of the ‘70s, for rock of the ‘80s. Heck, some people find it surprising that I absolutely love country music! In fact, I’ve been writing a show for years. The working title? “COUNTRY MUSIC SAVED MY LIFE!” I’ve also wanted to do a symphony pops concert of country music for years. (One of these days!…) But, just like shows, I can find something to love about almost every genre of music. And certainly, I can find something to learn. I don’t often play music around the house – unless I’m working on a project (then I immerse myself in that music). But there’s always music playing – in my mind. ALWAYS! Some people have ‘voices in their heads,’ I have a full soundtrack!”
We hope you enjoyed some advice from one of our leads in our last blog, because we have some more for you again!
Rogers: “I tell people all the time – it’s a challenging road. It’s not for everyone. But if you are truly passionate about it, do it. Give it a try. Realize that you don’t have to be a star to have a career in the theatre. Nor do you have to be the music director. Every single member of the production team in every single department is integral to a show. Find your passion. Then do it. In fact, I think that’s one of the real secrets of life. Find out what your passion is, then figure out a way to make a few dollars doing it. You may be at it 60 hours a week, but you’ll never work a day in your life, and you may only make a dollar, but you’ll be the richest person in town.”
We hope you had an amazing time going through the interview with us learning about our music director and what he does! Don’t forget to visit our website and get your tickets for CAROUSEL, which will be performed at the Civic Center from July 5-10.