An Evening with Rodgers & Hammerstein

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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 a​​nd 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 ​c​omposer. 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, wonder​ful​ 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 A​SO​ 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 Conservator​ium​ of Music (NECOM).

The ADMS side ha​s​ many people who are passionate ​about ​putting on musicals; however, we ​have ​opened it up to anyone who want​s​ 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. A​nd ​Marney Till​ey 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 wonder​ful ​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.

Thanks Bruce.

 

THE PLUG

12th & 13th of August @ Lazenby Hall.
Tickets available online at www.adms.org.au or at Carr’s NewsXpress in the Mall.

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