The orchestra in My Fair Lady consists of 28 superb musicians, a generous number by Broadway standards. Such a large ensemble is especially fortunate when the score in question is as high-quality as that of this Frederick Loewe score. I wondered whether the musicians develop favorite songs or moments during the course of playing so many standards night after night.
The viola player Brad Bosenbeck responded, “We are very lucky in the sense that there truly isn’t a bad tune in the bunch. They are all so evocative, imaginative, even iconic. I grew up idolizing Robert Russell Bennett’s work” – Bennett was one of the original arrangers of the score – “and so to be able to play and conduct this music is a personal thrill.”
Trombonist Mark Patterson was similarly enthralled by much of the score, making it hard to single out a favorite. Among those, however, are: the Overture, “because the focus is on the orchestra presenting the melodies, and the audience reaction is something we can feel”and “Without You,” “because there is a trombone part that connects with Eliza’s vocal in the second chorus.”
Mark Boschen, who also plays trombone, singled out the Entr’acte. He added that “Get Me to the Church on Time” was also a favorite. Its “raucousness provides great balance to the elegance of the show.”
Grace Paradise, the production’s harpist, mentioned “On the Street Where You Live.” “I love Jordan Donica’s singing and for me there are more harp colors using harmonics and glissandos. There aren’t too many glissandos in this show. However, I counted 1,061 pedal moves per show.” That is, she explained, more than double the number in The Phantom of the Opera. In fact, Paradise said, “I’m pretty sure that’s the highest for any book I’ve ever played.”
Clarinetist Todd Palmer was less technical in his reply. “ALL of the songs are absolutely wonderful…but if I had to choose just one it would be ‘I Could Have Danced All Night.’ Why? Because it soars!”
Brendan Lemon is the editor of lemonwade.com