Friday, March 1, 2013

On the Road with The Addams Family

When most people are headed home from work, theater professionals are just getting started. What is that like? Musician Jim Geddes from The Addams Family gives us an inside look at life on the road.

On The Road
I love being on the road because every day can bring something different. Different cities, different venues, different cafes and different hotel rooms. So to write about the average day is quite difficult, but I will do my best!

This is my fourth national/international Broadway musical tour. Most cities I've been to before, so I pretty much know what to expect when I arrive at my destination. I know my favorite cafes and diners in almost any given city. I'm starting to get used to people following me or asking for my advice on places to go. I've always thought about writing a book on these places, but alas I don't know if I could sit down long enough to write something that long.

A “Typical” Show Day
Every day we get to wake up in a hotel with an unfamiliar scene outside the window. If we are lucky to be sitting down in city for a week or two, we won't have to board a bus to our next venue. If we are in a one nighter situation (in a city for only one night), we will have to board the coach bus early to make it to the next city in time to check into the next hotel and relax before heading to the venue.

Jim (far right) in the pit for The Addams Family

Sound Check
Sometimes the venue is a quaint 600-750 person theater and sometimes they can be as large as a 4,000-5,000 person arena. We have to play to every size theater, so sound checks are extremely important at new venues. Usually when I get to a new venue, I rush to the music pit to start setting up all my instruments. I usually average 3 to 5 woodwind instruments, but I've had up to eight instruments on shows before. Once I’m set up and everything is in place, we check every line and then run specific songs with the actors to make sure their mic packs are working and that they can be heard over the musicians.

Jim (front left) with fellow The Addams Family musicians

Getting Ready for Each Performance
After the sound check is when I usually have a minute to eat something light and prepare for the show. Eating healthy on the road is vital as musicians do not have understudies to go on if they aren’t feeling well. If we're sick, we still play. Being in good shape is a must. Light eating of veggies and fruit is usually the case. 

Right before the show, I will be back in the pit doing light warm-ups on each instrument and maybe playing through difficult passages. I'm mainly using this time to get all my ducks in a row, so that I can play through the entire show without interruption.

After The Show
Once the show has been played, if we are traveling to a new venue the next day, everything has to be packed up once again. Everything is cleaned and all the instruments are put back in their cases. 

We return to the hotel, either find a place to snack and have a few drinks, or we settle down in our rooms and snack from our reserves of food we travel with. A full night's sleep will help keep a musician in good health. Great hotels are always appreciated!

Then repeat!

With this current show, I am quite lucky that we have quite a few week long sit downs. Also we are traveling abroad to Asia this fall and the story of an average day changes quite a bit. But as far as the show goes, that will remain at the highest level we are capable of producing.

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