While actors and actresses take to the stage, captivating audiences and, in the case of the Williams Lake Studio Theatre’s latest production, Anything That Moves, singing their hearts out, there’s a less well known, but no less essential element that is necessary to the production: the musical accompaniment.
As Anything That Moves is a play that is relatively new, and not commonly done, the challenge of finding accompaniment was more challenging than most musicals: there was no written piano or drum score to accompany the singers.
As a result, pianist Juliana Lam and percussionist John Christoffersen created the music from scratch, working off of the recorded songs from a previous production of the quirky musical.
“This is a new experience for me,” said Christoffersen, who came on in the middle of the rehearsal process. He plays with the Cariboo Gold Dance Band and the Williams Lake Community Band. “I kind of go back and think of rhythm that I do know and if it would fit. My first two practices I did a lot of listening, trying to figure out what might fit where and when to start and when to stop.”
Lam has been working with the cast since they started rehearsing, but says the process of creating the music has been a challenge.
“I just listened to the tracks many times and I looked at all the chord signatures and then I tried to come up with my own interpretation of what it should sound like,” she said, adding she has played piano individually and with bands in the past. While she was part of the band for Cabaret, a previous WLST production, she says she’s had to adjust being one of only two instrumentalists on stage.
“You have to make sure you play at the right time,” she said. “It’s just a completely different experience because you have to look at the stage and see what everybody else is doing and make sure you are playing at the right time.”
Depending on the day and the mood onstage, she says actors might sing faster or slower or take a pause where they might not otherwise.
“You can’t just play whatever you want, you really have to pay attention to whatever the actors are doing.”
“It’s as much listening as playing,” said Christoffersen. “You can’t just say this is the tempo. That’s the interesting part about this — that it changes.”
Both said they’ve enjoyed their experience working with the play.
“I really enjoy all the people I’ve met,” said Lam.
“It’s a good stretch for me,” said Christoffersen. “It’s not just playing a new kind of music, it’s a totally new situation.”
Anything That Moves is onstage at the Williams Lake Studio Theatre Jan. 19-20 and Jan. 24-27 and will move to the Point restaurant for dinner theatre Jan. 31 – Feb. 3. Tickets are available at the Open Book, Kit and Kaboodle and online at www.wlstudiotheatre.ca.