While the actors, singers and dancers on stage get most of the glory during an Ardmore Little Theatre musical, it’s the tone set by the musicians in the pit that gives a special spark to the production.

While the actors, singers and dancers on stage get most of the glory during an Ardmore Little Theatre musical, it’s the tone set by the musicians in the pit that gives a special spark to the production.

Directing the orchestra for this season’s musical, “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” starting its second run at 7 tonight through Saturday, conductor Doug Hansen said the key to making a great sound is to round up key players. This is Hansen’s second time as conductor, having taken the role last year for “Anything Goes,” but he’s no stranger to the ALT orchestra pit.

“I have played in several,” he said. “The last one that I played in was ‘Damn Yankees.’ That was several years ago. And I’ve played in ‘Brigadoon’ and I’m sure I’ve played in some others. When I taught in Madill, I used to come over and play in the orchestra quite often.”

The “Joseph” orchestra consists of keyboardists Andy Price and Daneen Hansen; clarinet player Karrie Lee; Laurie Blomgren on clarinet, bass clarinet and soprano saxophone; trumpet player Drew Etheridge; horn players Larry Johnson and James Copeland; Debra McMurry on flute, piccolo and auxiliary percussion; drummer Chris McMurry; Jimmy Veith on guitar; and Ray Hill on bass.

Putting together an orchestra takes a good bit of knowledge of who is out there, and taking chances on newcomers who want to show their talent and style.

“The first step is based upon my contacts,” Hansen said. “I usually look for band directors who are around the area and maybe look for musicians who I have played with in the past and respect their ability. And, occasionally we get a call, as we did this year, from someone who’s interested in playing in the musical and requesting an audition to come and play for me. That was Lori Blomgren.

“The others, I know many of them from my church orchestra and there are quite a few band directors and former band directors. And, of course, we’re always looking for guitarists,” he said. “I just kind of asked questions of people of who’s played previous shows and who’s in town who plays guitar very well and we’ve been pretty fortunate this year to get good players.”

Separate from the rehearsals on stage, the orchestra members get together in an alternate location and begin rehearsing at least six weeks ahead of the show. Then, closer to opening, the orchestra rehearses with the actors to blend the two elements together as one cohesive unit.
At times, there has been discussion about particular musicals being too difficult to perform in Ardmore, but Hansen believes there’s little that the talented performers — both on and in front of the stage — can’t do.

“At this point, I have faith in the committee members in Ardmore and the surrounding areas that we could put together a quality orchestra for any difficulty level of show,” he said. “I really feel that we have a lot of talent around the Ardmore area and some that we haven’t even touched yet, that I don’t know about.

“I think the quality of acting is great for community theater,” Hansen said. “I’m thoroughly absorbed and entertained in the shows when I work with them and I’m just amazed at the talent that actors have and I think there’s an awful lot of talent in the Ardmore area and we could pretty much do any undertaking of a musical show, within reason.”

Although those on stage get most of the glory in a musical, audience members know that the orchestra provides an essential element to making the production a quality performance. Sitting in the orchestra pit, a lower area between the stage and the audience, musicians don’t necessarily get to be seen by the crowd, but their presence is never forgotten. And Hansen said he has never felt slighted or overlooked in any capacity by the public.

“I don’t really feel that way, personally. I feel that my job as orchestra director is to put together the highest quality of accompaniment of the musical that we can possibly do. And I consider the musical to be a total production. So I don’t feel like we’ve been slighted,” he said. “The people who work behind stage, they get even less recognition than the orchestra does because the orchestra gets the cast acknowledgement that they’re there at the end of the show. We get to do an entr’ acte and an overture and those sorts of things that some of the other people don’t get to get out in front to show people what they can do.

“In community theaters and also in some college productions that I played trumpet for, I was just glad to be there and I didn’t think twice about recognition,” he said. “I had my name in the program and that was good enough for me.”

Tickets are still available for “Joseph” by calling the ALT box office at (580) 223-6387. Tickets are $12 for adults and $6 for students.