NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - On March 13thand 14th, New Providence High School Drama Department will present the sci-fi horror musical Little Shop of Horrors.
Imagine, sitting in the audience, anticipation mounting. The lights are dimmed, you look away for a second…. All of a sudden, there is a guy, dressed in black, with his back to the audience. He is facing 11 seated people, who are looking at him expectantly, nine students and two professionals.
Suddenly, notes of music magically fill the large auditorium, and you are transported to another time and place. This is the Pit Orchestra. Their job is to set the mood and tell the story with music. They are an integral part of any musical theater experience.
It is clear to anyone that these students thoroughly enjoy what they do and are willing to invest multiple hours in practice, both individually and as a group. This dedication ensures the high quality performance many have come to expect and enjoy from the NPHS Pit at any performance.
Mr. Ho, a seven-year veteran as the pit orchestra director for NPHS's spring musical, cannot hide the fact that this is one of his passions. According to Mr. Ho, “It truly is my favorite time of the year. The teachers prepare the students at a high caliber that when I arrive for the musical, they are able to take on the music that was written for professionals in a short amount of time.”
Ironically, last year, Ethan Neidich, now a senior, warily accepted his invitation to be in the pit, and was originally intimidated by the complexity of the music. But, by the end of the production, “it was definitely one of the most fun musical experiences I have ever had.” He is back, playing the trumpet and flugelhorn. In fact, he is also taking a Theatre Production class at NPHS with Mr. Duke, which allows him to be involved in another aspect of the production. “For the past few weeks, we have been constructing the set, so it is interesting to see the set come together as the music comes together.”
Charlotte Lin, a senior flutist, also has a broad perspective in her spring musical experience. She was a cast member as a freshman and switched over to pit as a sophomore. “Being in pit is definitely a different experience. I think it's really special that we have a live orchestra made up of students under the stage at New Providence, because I know not all other high schools have that. It adds so much to the show.”
Junior Eriksen Sandaire (saxophone) also notes, “Pit orchestra is an unique experience where the musicians are able to work with another art form to create a more holistic experience for the audience. Pit orchestra also gives singular parts to individuals, making each participant crucial.”
But not all pit orchestras are created equal, so to speak. As each musical score is unique, each production presents challenges and opportunities for these musicians. Molly McPoland (clarinet), a second year sophomore, commented that last year’s performance of Chicago was really cool and different since the music included a strings component resulting in a larger pit. However, with the Little Shop of Horrors smaller pit, junior Caitlyn DeMarco (percussion) is excited because “I get more room!” to perform. She says about this year’s performance, “Making my fortress of instruments each year is so fun, and playing with my friends is the cherry on top. Mr. Ho and Mr. Hess are wonderful to play with, and it is exciting to also play with John Leister.”
"One memorable moment I’ve had in the pit this year,” says sophomore Aiden Jonny (trumpet), new to pit, “was during our drummer’s first Saturday morning rehearsal, finding out his (John Leister’s) involvement with the Broadway version of this musical. I plan on going forward with my career in performing arts and pit orchestra has helped me immensely with the stress and exhilaration of being part of an orchestra."
What do the students think of Mr. Ho? “I love the way he directs the pit orchestra. He is serious when it is time to be serious, and joyful and enthusiastic the rest of the time,” according to Neidich. "Working with Mr. Ho has been absolutely fantastic. Mr. Ho has a lot of prior experience with pit orchestras, and is able to use his knowledge to really push us into a great ensemble,” adds McPoland. In short, “He makes pit a great experience for all of us,” says Lin.
Come out this weekend to see what these talented students have accomplished. Show times for Little Shop of Horrors are March 13th at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, March 14th at 2:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at “Seat Yourself” online ticketing. There is a link on https://www.npsd.k12.nj.us
For more about the New Providence School District music and performing arts programs, please visit http://www.npsd.k12.nj.us//Domain/15