During last year’s renovations to the Dan Zollars Auditorium, a new orchestra pit was installed, providing a new area for the pit band to perform. The drama department’s production of “Footloose” this February will be the first time the new pit will be utilized. In the past, the pit band performed in front of the stage which sometimes distracted audience members from the production at hand.
The pit band won’t play in the pit until two weeks before the musical during technical week, where they will also work with the cast and crew for the first time.
Finding out about the new pit gave Foley and the pit band a new outlook on this year’s musical than previous years.
“I was all for the new pit,” Foley said. “I think it will help coordinate the production better in a way where I can direct both chorus and pit smoothly.”
Foley is eager to put his skills to the test. Juggling both the direction of the chorus and pit band as well as adjusting the band to their new pit, Foley anticipates his first practices with the band.
“From when I’ve worked with professional pit bands, we would rehearse in the pit a day before opening night,” Foley said. “So, a week seems like a lot of rehearsal time to me.”
Junior Joe Sernett was just as eager about the new adjustment to the theatre as Foley was.
“I thought it was pretty sweet,” Sernett said. “It’s what the professionals play in so it’s cool that a high school pit band gets to experience that.”
Sernett wanted to play guitar in the pit band two years ago for “Guys and Dolls”, but the list was already full. Instead, he found himself watching the production from the audience.
“When I went to see ‘Guys and Dolls’, I felt myself watching the band play at times because they were just right there in plain view,” Sernett said.
The new pit will eliminate the problem Sernett experienced as an audience member, but it also raises the challenge of “playing with your ears,” according to Sernett.
“It could get really confusing,” Sernett said. “Foley will be standing in front of the pit, while he’s also directing the chorus and we’ll have to listen to the performance while watching for Foley’s cues.”
According to saxaphone player senior
Connor Creighton, those cues are key to staying with the chorus.
“We’ll only be able to see Foley’s cues,” Creighton said. “They are going to be what keep the whole thing together.”
As of now, the pit band is just focussing on their first practices.
“We’ve only practiced twice because of those snow days,” Creighton said. “Everyone seems to be making an effort to learn the music so we can move forward to where we’ll be come technical week.”
Creighton already knows the first couple days in the pit will be rough. He hopes he and the other seniors can lead the group.
“It’ll be a different setting than where we’ve been practicing,” Creighton said. “I mean, we’ve never played in actual pit.”
Creighton and fellow pit band member senior David Beeder performed in the production of “Guys and Dolls” two years ago before the pit was a part of the theatre.
“We’ve always taken pit band seriously,” Beeder said. “We feel more official now that we have [the pit].”
Both Beeder and Creighton agree the new orchestra pit is large improvment than what they had before. Before, the pit band was set up in front of the stage and off to the side, so the audience could see every move they made, even when they weren’t playing.
“We will no longer b awkwardly in front of the audience,” Creighton said. “It’ll make the whole production look better too.”
The new orchestra pit has not changed how the pit band members practice, even though the audience can’t see any mistakes they make unlike previous years. If anything they’re working even harder to prepare for opening night.
“We’re still in the first stages of rehearsal mode,” Beeder said. “The whole orchestra is really looking forward to technical week just to see how everything fits together.”
Foley is planning ahead for technical week. He wants the chorus and the pit band to practice with each other on stage before the pit band plays in the orchestra pit.
“I’m anxious to see how everything goes with all of these changes,” said Foley. “We just need to rehearse and practice until everything feels right for opening night.”