Notice: register_sidebar was called incorrectly. No id was set in the arguments array for the "Sidebar 1" sidebar. Defaulting to "sidebar-1". Manually set the id to "sidebar-1" to silence this notice and keep existing sidebar content. Please see Debugging in WordPress for more information. (This message was added in version 4.2.0.) in /home/lajollaplayhouse/public_html/blog/wp-includes/functions.php on line 3606
Theater Diary: ‘Sunshine’ score gets orchestra treatment - La Jolla Playhouse Blog

Theater Diary: ‘Sunshine’ score gets orchestra treatment

  • bookmark page

By Andrew Samonsky
Originally published in the San Diego Union-Tribune

Andrew Samonsky, who plays Joshua and other roles in the La Jolla Playhouse’s “Little Miss Sunshine,” will recount his experiences for six weeks in Arts.

The cast of Little Miss Sunshine rehearses at the La Jolla Playhouse on Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2011. Andrew Samonsky plays Joshua Rose and other rolls. (Photo by K.C. Alfred/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

I hate to say Mom and Dad were right. I wish I’d practiced the piano more as a kid. My parents were generous enough to expose me to a handful of instruments: guitar, bass, trumpet, saxophone, French horn and violin — but my favorite has to be the piano.

Music has always been my first love. Every rehearsal of “Little Miss Sunshine,” I’ve found a moment to sit back and listen to Vadim Feichter (our brilliant and highly amusing music director) play our beautiful score on the piano. It only took a couple weeks before every song was on repeat in my brain — and not in the annoying way. I’ve fallen in love with the music in this show, and when I hear it, I hear that satisfying piano.

Well, that was until we had our first sitzprobe. Yes, sitzprobe (with a “z” sound at the beginning). The first time I heard the word, I thought, “Sounds like a job for a dermatologist.” But this is the bizarre label placed on our first rehearsal with the orchestra. I never asked why it’s called a sitzprobe, and still have no idea. Whatever the origin, to the sitzprobe we went to hear the nine-piece orchestra blast off. This music that melted me with just a piano had been injected with fireworks.

The man responsible for orchestrating these fireworks is Michael Starobin. “Little Miss Sunshine” is the first musical I have worked on where the music is original. No one had ever heard these songs before this show, and before the sitzprobe, no one had ever heard them orchestrated, including the composer, William Finn.

Once the music had been set, the piano accompaniment was sent off to Michael. Not until the sitzprobe did we hear the result. And the result is wildly fun. At least that’s how I interpreted the smiles, laughter and applause from those around me (including Mr. Finn).

Tragically, after the sitzprobe, we now throw these incredible musicians underneath the stage into the pit. The “pit”? Really? Can’t we find a nicer name for this? How about “The Place Where All the Ridiculously Talented Musicians Are”? Too long?

The piano may be a great instrument — but there are so many more, and when you mix them all up, you get a delicious orchestra. Michael has been able to keep the original spirit of each song, while enhancing its personality and emotion. It makes our job as actors that much easier. Thanks, Michael!

Andrew Samonsky played Lt. Joseph Cable in the Broadway revival of “South Pacific.” He created the role of Nick on the national tour of “On the Record.”