Armidale Drama and Musical Society and Armidale Symphony Orchestra. Rodgers and Hammerstein were the talented duo who created a string of popular Broadway musicals in the 1940s-50s, with classics such as ‘The Sound of Music’, ‘Carousel’, ‘South Pacific’ and ‘The King and I’. Bruce Menzies, who will conduct the Armidale Drama and Musical Society and the Armidale Symphony Orchestra, tells us about the event, ‘An Evening with Rodgers & Hammerstein’ happening this August.
Bruce, tell us about yourself and your role within R&H.
Neil Horton and I have a bit of a history with putting on concerts of music from famous shows. We combine two groups we are involved with: Neil Horton is President of the Armidale Drama & Musical Society (ADMS), and I play and occasionally conduct for the Armidale Symphony Orchestra (ASO). Every couple of years for the last decade we have put on a show, where we join forces to rehearse and perform music from the great musicals. We’ve performed A Night On Broadway, The Magic of Gilbert & Sullivan, Showboat, the music of Cole Porter and this year we will be putting on a concert of music from the musicals of Rodgers and Hammerstein.
For those who don’t know about R&H, remind us of their work …
Well, Richard Rodgers was a writer of musicals, and Oscar Hammerstein was a composer. After working with other collaborators, they got together and wrote musicals which were huge successes in the 1940s and ‘50s. Think of The King and I, South Pacific, Oklahoma, Carousel and The Sound of Music.
Who’s involved in this production?
Local singers, wonderful young and not so young soloists, and a chorus of about 100 vocalists, as well as the symphony orchestra. In total, over 150 performers will be entertaining you on the night.
Tell us about some of the people involved.
The ASO puts on three – four concerts a year. We are a full symphony orchestra, comprising brass, woodwind, strings, percussion and keyboard, and will have about 50 players. Almost all are local instrumentalists, and some of those are tutors at the New England Conservatorium of Music (NECOM).
The ADMS side has many people who are passionate about putting on musicals; however, we have opened it up to anyone who wants to come and sing. Some of the lovely people from the Armidale Choral Society are singing along with the ADMS singers, and other people from the community who enjoy singing this repertoire. There are no auditions; it is open to anyone who loves to sing. Based on previous experiences, results have been great, and the audiences have loved it.
What is the hardest thing about this production?
We don’t actually stage it, so we don’t have to organise acting or costumes. The hardest thing is managing the sheer volume of people involved; that takes a lot of`coordinating. There are separate and then joint rehearsals of the singers and the orchestra, and we organise the lighting and placement of all the people and the instruments and music stands. The administration involved in all this is considerable.
Is there anyone you’d like to particularly mention as being indispensable to the show?
Neil Horton, President of ADMS – he is such a stalwart, and I couldn’t do this without him. Robyn Bradley, our extraordinary pianist, has been at all our rehearsals three times a week. And Marney Tilley and Alana Blackburn, who do our advertising – they do a tremendous job. It’s very much a group effort.
What is your favourite R&H song/ production?
I think Carousel probably has the strongest music; I think it’s beautiful. South Pacific is also going to be wonderful and a stand out of the evening.
Will you be featuring all the R&H works, like The King and I, Oklahoma, South Pacific and more?
Yes, we will be featuring many of the most famous works of Rodgers and Hammerstein – a nice selection of works throughout their history.
Any final words?
The people of the New England don’t often get the opportunity to hear large forces putting on wonderful events like this. If you are planning to come to the event, expect to hear high quality music performed by 150 very talented local people.
12th & 13th of August @ Lazenby Hall.
Tickets available online at www.adms.org.au or at Carr’s NewsXpress in the Mall.