PD FY21 Public Works Dallas THE WINTER'S TALE Virtual Workshop - Music - Dallas Theater Center
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Project Discovery VIrtual Workshop: Public Works Dallas THE WINTER'S TALE

Music 

A musical adaptation occurs when material from another artistic medium, such as a novel or a film is re-written according to the needs and requirements of the theatre and turned into a play or musical.The original Shakespearean play The Winter’s Tale did not include a musical score. Todd Almond and Lear de Bessonet adapted the original script to include a selection of beautiful songs that are sung throughout the play.  Read more about Todd Almond’s process in writing music for the stage here.

Musical Director Vonda K. Bowling has worked with our community ensemble since the creation of Public Works Dallas. Below is a video outlining the lyrics and instrumental to the “Life’s a Dance” that Vonda prepared for community ensemble members in order for them to learn the song.

And here are a few lyrics to the song created by Todd Almond if you would like to sing along:

LIFE IS
GONNA 
DANCE RIGHT BY 
YOU WON’T CATCH
ME
STANDING STILL

UH-OH
UH-OH 

ONE DAY IT ENDS 
BUT NOT UNTIL

LIFE IS
GONNA 
DANCE RIGHT BY 
YOU WON’T CATCH
ME
STANDING STILL

UH-OH
UH-OH 

ONE DAY IT ENDS 
BUT NOT UNTIL

Music Direction for The Winter’s Tale

Vonda K. Bowling She shares how music relates to elements in the play and the process of how to musically direct a musical adaptation with 100 or more performers.

How does the music advance the story/plot? My opinion, since this musical is based on a Shakespeare play, many of the songs/solos are comparable to the monologues in the show. Monologues do not always advance the plot, that’s what dialogue does, but rather it shows what’s going on inside the actors mind. And I feel like that is what the music does in this show. The group numbers provide introductions, comedy relief, close out the show, etc.

How do music and the dialogue work together? Like a standard musical, there are many places that music and dialogue would overlap. Like when I start the intro of the song while they are still talking. It already puts the audience into “I’m about to hear a song” mode.  A lot of the songs in this show do not have big “button” endings to songs so that they can go directly into more dialogue without applause. We had to add endings on a few of the songs to get some sense of “clap here!”

How does music convey characters on stage? Some characters may have their own theme or make the audience feel a certain way when their character comes on stage. For example, when Leontes sings “No Question”, we have no doubt what the emotion is with that song. He is MAD and is making himself crazy with jealousy. What about the music makes you feel that emotion too? When Hermione sings “The Other Side” and talks about “sailing to the other side of a storm”, you definitely hear the storm in the music. What other examples can you find?

Public Works Dallas Music Timeline

Prep:
Start a month to 3 weeks before the first rehearsal
Get acquainted with any recordings and sheet music available
Start making a music breakdown:

Titles of songs
Characters
Who sings in what song
What part they sing (soprano, alto, tenor, bass, solo, etc. )
What measure they sing in (where in the song do they sing)

This breakdown is super helpful when I’m teaching and also for the actors so they can look at their name and know exactly where they are singing in each song.
Mark my score with any changes, cuts or differences between the script and the score.
Prepare my music binder

Double sided hole-punched music
Table of contents
Plastic Flags with the song number for easy reference
Pencils
Music Breakdown
Cast list

Learn the score. I need to know how to play and sing all of the parts.
Discuss with stage management about sheet music and/or bilingual lyric sheets for the full company

Audition/Callback:

Anyone who wants to be a part of the show will be a part of the show. The audition (or “sharing” in PWD world) is mostly for people who would like to be a featured singer, dancer or actor. People come to the initial audition with about 30 seconds to a minute of a song (or monologue or dance) they like: Pop, christian, gospel, Musical Theatre, classical, etc. From there I determine who I would like to callback for a featured singing role. For Winter’s Tale, we sent a video and a lyric sheet of the song we wanted them to learn. (video of me and Taylor). Then a few days later, they came in and sang. I played the piano for them and we had them sing it high and low and had them dance or even add harmony if they could. I taught a harmony to some singers to see if they could stay on that part while people were singing something different. AND they got a head start to the first rehearsal, cause that was part of the finale!

First Rehearsal:

Everyone learns the final song. Every PWD show has a HUGE finale and I usually have everyone learn it at the first rehearsal; anyone who is in the room. Cast, staff, director, choreographer, board members, etc. This is to get everyone singing from the first day and build excitement for the upcoming music rehearsals.

Music Rehearsals:

All three PWD shows, I’ve had a core group of about 6-8 singers who have singing experience in a choir or a group where they had to sing harmony or sing a part other than the strong melody. I usually schedule time with them separately from the full company and teach them smaller group numbers; whether it’s a back-up group for a solo or a song with really complicated harmony.

Cast members who have solos also have a scheduled time with me to learn their songs.

The company is usually divided into groups for different parts of the story, so stage management schedules them on a rotation of music, staging, choreography, learning lines, breaks. It is like a well-oiled machine!

Band Rehearsal:

About a week before opening, I meet with the members of the band so that we can rehearse before tech week starts. I give them any changes and cuts we’ve made and we play through the whole show in about 4 hours. (the show isn’t that long, we just have things to talk about and rehearse.) We also don’t want the first time with the cast to be the first time I see the band.

Sitzprobe:

My favorite day!! This is the first time that the cast and the band are together. Every cast member is on stage with the band and we sing through the WHOLE SHOW. There is no staging or choreography. It’s all about the music. It is so exciting to watch the faces of the company when they hear real drums and real guitars rather than only piano. And the faces of the band members when they hear 200+ community members sing together. It’s a beautiful moment.

Tech:

LONG DAYS! But I love tech! A lot of stopping and starting, but this is where it all comes together. Lights, sound, costumes, make-up, choreo, band, music, special guests, etc.

Opening Night!

Extra notes:

PWD shows that are composed by Todd Almond are always so exciting! He has a unique advantage because when the shows are first performed at The Public, he is IN the show, as an actor and the music director. There are many advantages to that. You have COMPLETE control of the music. So if a song isn’t written down yet, it’s ok, he just plays it. Wellllll, that’s not a great thing when you’re not the composer and you don’t have music that’s not written down….So there were a few times during the process that we contacted Todd and he sent us music for songs that we didn’t have and he also gave us permission to change the songs to fit the singer. If it was too high to be in a comfortable singing range or if we wanted to do something different to the ending of songs. He was open to that and trusted us.

Learning opportunities:

I am very comfortable teaching music to large groups of people. So teaching 200+ people was not intimidating to me. BUT there were many learning opportunities along the way. Different levels of singers, many levels of learners, college graduates, experienced singers, first time singers, beginning readers, English speakers, Spanish speakers, bilingual speakers, ages 6-96, all in the same rehearsal. Thank goodness for my music associate, Jesse Fry, who not only is a wonderful music director, he also speaks Spanish and was a tremendous help to me in rehearsals. We would take turns at the piano and standing with the cast and singing in their faces (as I like to call it).

On top of the lyrics and arrangement by Todd Almond, the play also includes moments of incorporating a diverse group of musical performances from local cameo groups. Here are some of the groups and musical forms featured in the play.

New Orleans Brass Band

Throughout the 19th century, Sousa-style marching bands were all the rage in New Orleans. At the same time, African traditions – like ring dancing and the playing of music — were also alive and well among the slaves in Congo Square. Creoles and free people of color of the time were often accomplished instrumentalists as well. After the Emancipation in 1865, we saw the formation of the first black brass bands, each of which was rooted in all of these influences. Before long, these bands became staples at major public events like baseball games, funerals, festivals, and business openings. By the 20th century, many black brass bands were incredibly famous and were important parts of not only the black community but New Orleans in general. Instruments include trumpet, saxophone, tuba, bass drum, snare drum, and trombone.

From arcadiapublishing.com

The Unfaded Brass Band led by Grand Marshall Michelle Gibson appear in Bohemia after a comedic scene between Autolycus and Clown.

Carnatic Classical Music

Carnatic music is the classical music of South India. One of the world’s oldest and richest musical traditions, it traces its ancestry to the same fountains that nourish Hindustani music. Carnatic music owes its name to the Sanskrit term Karnātaka Sangītam which denotes “traditional” or “codified” music. The main emphasis in Carnatic music is on vocal music; most compositions are written to be sung, and even when played on instruments, they are meant to be performed in gāyaki (singing) style. With emphasis on “ragas” (musical scales) and “thalas” (rhythms), the carnatic music is performed in vocal and instrumental styles – very often strictly adhering to the scales and rhythms. The artist, for example, sings an entire song in a selected musical scale (comprising selected musical notes) and exhibits creative arrangements within the selected scale. The carnatic musicians practice musical curves extensively which is a unique feature of this form of music.

From carnaticstudent.org and ashaacharya.org/

In The Winter’s Tale, Tejas Dance performers Bhuvana Venkatraman and Chintan Patel perform classical Bharatanatyam in Bohemia to the song “Jathiswaram” by the Naraj Sisters as they dance for Perdita and Florizel. 

 

Mariachi

Mariachi is a uniquely Mexican sound, combining indigenous and foreign elements to create a new flavor. Mariachi began in the late 1700s and early 1800s in west central Mexico, likely the region of Jalisco. Mariachi is often referred to as revolution music. Mariachi was used to help separate Mexico from Spanish influence, and later mariachi bands wandered from town to town singing the heroes of the Mexican Revolution. The first instance of the word “Mariachi” to describe this unique blend of musical styles appears in the writings of Father Cosme Santa Anna in 1852. By then, of course, the U.S. had acquired much of Mexico in the Mexican-American War, and many of the former residents of Mexico were now U.S. Nationals, officially bringing Mexican traditions, including mariachi, to the United States of America. A traditional band now uses the vihuela, guitarrón, guitar, violin, trumpet, and vocal elements to produce mariachi music for special occasions such as weddings, baptisms, holidays, and mass.

In The Winter’s Tale, Mariachi Estampas de Mexico de Dallas appeared in the land of Bohemia during the shepherd’s sheep shearing festival.   Listen to some of their music below.

 

African Drum 

Dance, music, and story-telling are among the ancient art forms that have flourished for many centuries in Africa. Music and dance are terms that we will use to denote musical practices of African people. Ancient African society did not separate their everyday life activities from their music and other cultural experience. The djembe is one of West Africa’s best known instruments. This goblet-shaped drum is traditionally carved from a single piece of African hardwood and topped with an animal skin as a drumhead. In western understanding, the drum belongs to the membranophone class of instruments in the percussion family. During a performance, the djembe may begin the ritual, followed by the singer and the other instruments. However, the music can also begin in a different fashion. The djembe player can change the beat of the drums in order to change the song, and the singer and instrumental players use the rhythm to recognize what they should be playing and adding to the whole. Meanwhile, the guests at the ceremony dance to the rhythm in a circle or encircled by a vast gathering of people. Solo dancers may leave the circle to dance for the djembe players or simply move up as allowed to dance for the djembe soloist of the moment.

From drumconnection.com

Bandan Koro performs during the transition from Sicilia to Bohemia as the representation of a storm in The Winter’s Tale.  Watch and listen to Bandan Koro below.

Music 

A musical adaptation occurs when material from another artistic medium, such as a novel or a film is re-written according to the needs and requirements of the theatre and turned into a play or musical.The original Shakespearean play The Winter’s Tale did not include a musical score. Todd Almond and Lear de Bessonet adapted the original script to include a selection of beautiful songs that are sung throughout the play.  Read more about Todd Almond’s process in writing music for the stage here.

Musical Director Vonda K. Bowling has worked with our community ensemble since the creation of Public Works Dallas. Below is a video outlining the lyrics and instrumental to the “Life’s a Dance” that Vonda prepared for community ensemble members in order for them to learn the song.

And here are a few lyrics to the song created by Todd Almond if you would like to sing along:

LIFE IS
GONNA 
DANCE RIGHT BY 
YOU WON’T CATCH
ME
STANDING STILL

UH-OH
UH-OH 

ONE DAY IT ENDS 
BUT NOT UNTIL

LIFE IS
GONNA 
DANCE RIGHT BY 
YOU WON’T CATCH
ME
STANDING STILL

UH-OH
UH-OH 

ONE DAY IT ENDS 
BUT NOT UNTIL

Music Direction for The Winter’s Tale

Vonda K. Bowling She shares how music relates to elements in the play and the process of how to musically direct a musical adaptation with 100 or more performers.

How does the music advance the story/plot? My opinion, since this musical is based on a Shakespeare play, many of the songs/solos are comparable to the monologues in the show. Monologues do not always advance the plot, that’s what dialogue does, but rather it shows what’s going on inside the actors mind. And I feel like that is what the music does in this show. The group numbers provide introductions, comedy relief, close out the show, etc.

How do music and the dialogue work together? Like a standard musical, there are many places that music and dialogue would overlap. Like when I start the intro of the song while they are still talking. It already puts the audience into “I’m about to hear a song” mode.  A lot of the songs in this show do not have big “button” endings to songs so that they can go directly into more dialogue without applause. We had to add endings on a few of the songs to get some sense of “clap here!”

How does music convey characters on stage? Some characters may have their own theme or make the audience feel a certain way when their character comes on stage. For example, when Leontes sings “No Question”, we have no doubt what the emotion is with that song. He is MAD and is making himself crazy with jealousy. What about the music makes you feel that emotion too? When Hermione sings “The Other Side” and talks about “sailing to the other side of a storm”, you definitely hear the storm in the music. What other examples can you find?

Public Works Dallas Music Timeline

Prep:
Start a month to 3 weeks before the first rehearsal
Get acquainted with any recordings and sheet music available
Start making a music breakdown:

Titles of songs
Characters
Who sings in what song
What part they sing (soprano, alto, tenor, bass, solo, etc. )
What measure they sing in (where in the song do they sing)

This breakdown is super helpful when I’m teaching and also for the actors so they can look at their name and know exactly where they are singing in each song.
Mark my score with any changes, cuts or differences between the script and the score.
Prepare my music binder

Double sided hole-punched music
Table of contents
Plastic Flags with the song number for easy reference
Pencils
Music Breakdown
Cast list

Learn the score. I need to know how to play and sing all of the parts.
Discuss with stage management about sheet music and/or bilingual lyric sheets for the full company

Audition/Callback:

Anyone who wants to be a part of the show will be a part of the show. The audition (or “sharing” in PWD world) is mostly for people who would like to be a featured singer, dancer or actor. People come to the initial audition with about 30 seconds to a minute of a song (or monologue or dance) they like: Pop, christian, gospel, Musical Theatre, classical, etc. From there I determine who I would like to callback for a featured singing role. For Winter’s Tale, we sent a video and a lyric sheet of the song we wanted them to learn. (video of me and Taylor). Then a few days later, they came in and sang. I played the piano for them and we had them sing it high and low and had them dance or even add harmony if they could. I taught a harmony to some singers to see if they could stay on that part while people were singing something different. AND they got a head start to the first rehearsal, cause that was part of the finale!

First Rehearsal:

Everyone learns the final song. Every PWD show has a HUGE finale and I usually have everyone learn it at the first rehearsal; anyone who is in the room. Cast, staff, director, choreographer, board members, etc. This is to get everyone singing from the first day and build excitement for the upcoming music rehearsals.

Music Rehearsals:

All three PWD shows, I’ve had a core group of about 6-8 singers who have singing experience in a choir or a group where they had to sing harmony or sing a part other than the strong melody. I usually schedule time with them separately from the full company and teach them smaller group numbers; whether it’s a back-up group for a solo or a song with really complicated harmony.

Cast members who have solos also have a scheduled time with me to learn their songs.

The company is usually divided into groups for different parts of the story, so stage management schedules them on a rotation of music, staging, choreography, learning lines, breaks. It is like a well-oiled machine!

Band Rehearsal:

About a week before opening, I meet with the members of the band so that we can rehearse before tech week starts. I give them any changes and cuts we’ve made and we play through the whole show in about 4 hours. (the show isn’t that long, we just have things to talk about and rehearse.) We also don’t want the first time with the cast to be the first time I see the band.

Sitzprobe:

My favorite day!! This is the first time that the cast and the band are together. Every cast member is on stage with the band and we sing through the WHOLE SHOW. There is no staging or choreography. It’s all about the music. It is so exciting to watch the faces of the company when they hear real drums and real guitars rather than only piano. And the faces of the band members when they hear 200+ community members sing together. It’s a beautiful moment.

Tech:

LONG DAYS! But I love tech! A lot of stopping and starting, but this is where it all comes together. Lights, sound, costumes, make-up, choreo, band, music, special guests, etc.

Opening Night!

Extra notes:

PWD shows that are composed by Todd Almond are always so exciting! He has a unique advantage because when the shows are first performed at The Public, he is IN the show, as an actor and the music director. There are many advantages to that. You have COMPLETE control of the music. So if a song isn’t written down yet, it’s ok, he just plays it. Wellllll, that’s not a great thing when you’re not the composer and you don’t have music that’s not written down….So there were a few times during the process that we contacted Todd and he sent us music for songs that we didn’t have and he also gave us permission to change the songs to fit the singer. If it was too high to be in a comfortable singing range or if we wanted to do something different to the ending of songs. He was open to that and trusted us.

Learning opportunities:

I am very comfortable teaching music to large groups of people. So teaching 200+ people was not intimidating to me. BUT there were many learning opportunities along the way. Different levels of singers, many levels of learners, college graduates, experienced singers, first time singers, beginning readers, English speakers, Spanish speakers, bilingual speakers, ages 6-96, all in the same rehearsal. Thank goodness for my music associate, Jesse Fry, who not only is a wonderful music director, he also speaks Spanish and was a tremendous help to me in rehearsals. We would take turns at the piano and standing with the cast and singing in their faces (as I like to call it).

On top of the lyrics and arrangement by Todd Almond, the play also includes moments of incorporating a diverse group of musical performances from local cameo groups. Here are some of the groups and musical forms featured in the play.

New Orleans Brass Band

Throughout the 19th century, Sousa-style marching bands were all the rage in New Orleans. At the same time, African traditions – like ring dancing and the playing of music — were also alive and well among the slaves in Congo Square. Creoles and free people of color of the time were often accomplished instrumentalists as well. After the Emancipation in 1865, we saw the formation of the first black brass bands, each of which was rooted in all of these influences. Before long, these bands became staples at major public events like baseball games, funerals, festivals, and business openings. By the 20th century, many black brass bands were incredibly famous and were important parts of not only the black community but New Orleans in general. Instruments include trumpet, saxophone, tuba, bass drum, snare drum, and trombone.

From arcadiapublishing.com

The Unfaded Brass Band led by Grand Marshall Michelle Gibson appear in Bohemia after a comedic scene between Autolycus and Clown.

Carnatic Classical Music

Carnatic music is the classical music of South India. One of the world’s oldest and richest musical traditions, it traces its ancestry to the same fountains that nourish Hindustani music. Carnatic music owes its name to the Sanskrit term Karnātaka Sangītam which denotes “traditional” or “codified” music. The main emphasis in Carnatic music is on vocal music; most compositions are written to be sung, and even when played on instruments, they are meant to be performed in gāyaki (singing) style. With emphasis on “ragas” (musical scales) and “thalas” (rhythms), the carnatic music is performed in vocal and instrumental styles – very often strictly adhering to the scales and rhythms. The artist, for example, sings an entire song in a selected musical scale (comprising selected musical notes) and exhibits creative arrangements within the selected scale. The carnatic musicians practice musical curves extensively which is a unique feature of this form of music.

From carnaticstudent.org and ashaacharya.org/

In The Winter’s Tale, Tejas Dance performers Bhuvana Venkatraman and Chintan Patel perform classical Bharatanatyam in Bohemia to the song “Jathiswaram” by the Naraj Sisters as they dance for Perdita and Florizel. 

 

Mariachi

Mariachi is a uniquely Mexican sound, combining indigenous and foreign elements to create a new flavor. Mariachi began in the late 1700s and early 1800s in west central Mexico, likely the region of Jalisco. Mariachi is often referred to as revolution music. Mariachi was used to help separate Mexico from Spanish influence, and later mariachi bands wandered from town to town singing the heroes of the Mexican Revolution. The first instance of the word “Mariachi” to describe this unique blend of musical styles appears in the writings of Father Cosme Santa Anna in 1852. By then, of course, the U.S. had acquired much of Mexico in the Mexican-American War, and many of the former residents of Mexico were now U.S. Nationals, officially bringing Mexican traditions, including mariachi, to the United States of America. A traditional band now uses the vihuela, guitarrón, guitar, violin, trumpet, and vocal elements to produce mariachi music for special occasions such as weddings, baptisms, holidays, and mass.

In The Winter’s Tale, Mariachi Estampas de Mexico de Dallas appeared in the land of Bohemia during the shepherd’s sheep shearing festival.   Listen to some of their music below.

 

African Drum 

Dance, music, and story-telling are among the ancient art forms that have flourished for many centuries in Africa. Music and dance are terms that we will use to denote musical practices of African people. Ancient African society did not separate their everyday life activities from their music and other cultural experience. The djembe is one of West Africa’s best known instruments. This goblet-shaped drum is traditionally carved from a single piece of African hardwood and topped with an animal skin as a drumhead. In western understanding, the drum belongs to the membranophone class of instruments in the percussion family. During a performance, the djembe may begin the ritual, followed by the singer and the other instruments. However, the music can also begin in a different fashion. The djembe player can change the beat of the drums in order to change the song, and the singer and instrumental players use the rhythm to recognize what they should be playing and adding to the whole. Meanwhile, the guests at the ceremony dance to the rhythm in a circle or encircled by a vast gathering of people. Solo dancers may leave the circle to dance for the djembe players or simply move up as allowed to dance for the djembe soloist of the moment.

From drumconnection.com

Bandan Koro performs during the transition from Sicilia to Bohemia as the representation of a storm in The Winter’s Tale.  Watch and listen to Bandan Koro below.