Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Our Town

Last week we discussed Introduction Songs. This week we have our first example.

One Bride For Seven Brothers was set in the town of Rileysberg, and the story revolved around the Riley family. With their parents long since passed, the family of six brothers are the sole inhabitants of the town. The brothers have a problem – they are going broke, and their parents’ will has gone missing, so without a means to pay off their creditors they will lose their beloved town.

As the song Our Town progresses and each of the characters comes on, you’ll hear them acknowledge the problem they have (the missing inheritance), and provide a bit of a clue about their character. This is the chance for the actors to start endowing themselves with personality and motivation. The characters that came out on the night were for the most part quite different to the characters we saw as we went through rehearsals for the show.

The introduction song goes through each of the brothers, one by one.

  • Archie (Luke Rimmelzwaan), the oldest brother, introduces the name of the town, their money worries, and implies that he’s maybe not so smart.
  • Cain (Alex Reichart) further reinforces the situation, and shows that he is frustrated with their lack of funds. Later in the story he acts on that frustration in a sneaky, but ultimately redeemable, way.
  • Brett (Luke Allan) has a similar verse, but is optimistic (and slightly mathematically challenged). This matches his character (later found out to be a matchmaker). Key change when Brett comes on, to freshen the song a bit.
  • Eric (Joel Gilmore) is a dreamer, sad to be poor, and comes across as a bit goofy. The music changed for this verse, and was a little more playful, which was a match for the character. I don’t think I gave Joel much time to react to a change of key and tempo, but he handled it pretty well anyway!
  • Dudley (Dan Beeston) won’t take their status lying down – he comes across as aggressive and motivated. The music switched up again, and went to a minor key as well. Dudley ended up being the “bad” character in the story, and I think this came very naturally out of this first verse.
  • Fudge (Tom Dunstan) had pretty evil sounding scoring, and alluded to family secrets. Later in the story he came across as a bit sneaky and manipulative.
  • Golly (Tristan Ham), the youngest brother, doesn’t care at all that the family is poor, he’s happy, and his music reflects his happy-go-lucky attitude. (How many key changes did I go through just before Golly’s verse? If that isn’t setting it up for a big ending, what is?)

It's subtle, but I really like that the song ended as it began, with "This is our town". We didn't have a chorus as we worked through the song, and I think that's ok; it still had a good identity. The ending was a little untidy for this one… probably something we needed to work more on at that point. Tristan steps forward and drives the cast (and me) for the ending. His tag at the end is lovely.

As the song progresses, the key moves up slowly but surely, and the tempo picks up. Hopefully this stops the song from being very samey. I have to say I’m always impressed that the guys on stage follow key changes so well. I’m pretty merciless, and they never disappoint.

It was obvious that the audience was warm and receptive from the first moments of the show. Considering a group of 30-40 school kids made up a portion of the audience, that’s a pretty good outcome.

Next week – another example introduction song, this time from Worst Side Story.
Photo by Al Caeiro

1 comment:

Dan Beeston said...

Funny you should mention the music guiding my character becoming the bad guy. I had all sorts of problems finding my character for this show. The one I used in rehearsal just did not work.

On the night of the show I decided on a character who was very proud. The moment I stepped onto stage the music flavoured my character in a way that inevitably lead to Amy Currie endowing me as a villainous character.

"I've never trusted you Dudley. It's the name for a start".

After that point I couldn't take a step without instigating a minor chord ;)

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