Seussical the Musical – Orchestra and Musician Notes

Here’s music info for those producing Seussical the Musical. You might find these tips and tricks useful if you are a musical director, conductor, musician in Seussical the Musical – or if you are working with pit orchestras for musical theater productions. I think you’ll find many items here you can apply to many different stage musicals. My first involement with Seussical was for META Performing Arts in Skagit County, WA. Our performance run was November 3-12, 2006 at McIntyre Hall, Mount Vernon, WA.

If you’re working on music for Seussical the Musical, you already know it’s a LOT of music. The longest wait between songs is about 30 seconds. The Conductor/Piano 1 score runs over 400 pages – most musicals I’ve worked on run under 200 pages. You’ve got your work cut out for you. The music is not extremely difficult, but it has a lot of textures needed to pull off the orchestration. I think the orchestration is very good, and the charts are very clean. As conductor you will notice many errors between the conductor’s score and musician scores. Double check all your numbered repeats, fermatas and pauses – they are marked erratically from score to score. I thought I had caught most of them, but in rehearsals realized I had only caught about half the errors. There are also a small number of note errors, listen carefully to your musicians to catch them. (I should have kept better notes so I could post a listing of the errors to fix).

Here are the major problems I identified with producing the music for Seussical, and notes on how I worked around them.

1) How do you fill out the orchestra for a local production?
2) Will the show work with 5 or 6 musicians?
3) How do you find woodwind players that can each double on 4-5 instruments?
4) How do you get a professional stringe ensemble sound – without using cheezy keyboard patches or investing in a full string section?
5) How do you teach four part harmonies to grade school children, and have them remember the enormous amount of music in this show?
6) If using kids, how do you get the Wickershams to sound hip – the score is written for males who’s voice has already changed.
7) What’s more important for the Cat In The Hat – vocal ability or acting ability?
8) What to look for vocally in the different groups of Bird Girls, Who’s, Wickershams, Jungle Animals and lead characters of Mayzie, Gertrude, Sour Kangaroo, Horton the Elephant, JoJo and the General.
9) Assming you are using a majority of children in your cast, how can they project over the orchestra?

Answers to questions:

1) How do you fill out the orchestra for a local production?
I really think you need to pony up and fill out the orchestration as much as possible. Seussical is all about imagination and the different textures you orchestra brings to the show is part of pulling off that environment. I want to hear Disney, I want to hear Fantasia – that’s not going to happen with a five piece group. It will sound ok, but not inspiring. For me, I’d rather not do it unless it’s going to be ultra cool. If you’re using five or six players, then these notes won’t help you – this is about producing Seussical in a semi-pro environment (which can also mean community theater that works really, really hard!)

2) Will the show work with 5 or 6 musicians?
“Work”, yes – something I’d want to work on? No. Get donors, beg borrow and plead, get that orchestra filled out. I was fortunate to get a single donor to underwrite the entire orchestra. They were given prominent mention in the program.

3) How do you find woodwind players that can each double on 4-5 instruments?
You can’t – assuming you do not have a budget to hire session players (which really, only session or union players are going to be able to pull off all those doubles professionally) and are not near a major city with access to players like this. So split your woodwinds into as many parts as you need to cover the three parts. I found that you can skip the following parts, which are VERY small parts once the others are covered: You can cut bassoon, Flute II, clarinet II. I had players for these parts, but the parts were so small they declined to play. If you can get people for those parts great, but you probably won’t miss them.

Here is the instrumentation that Seussical the Musical calls for:

Bass Electric Bass
Cello
Drums Kit, Woodblock, Piccolo Snare, Cowbell, Timbale, Shaker, Bell Tree, Flexitone, Mark Tree, Triangle
Guitar 1 Acoustic Guitar and Electric Guitar
Guitar 2 Acoutic Guitar, Banjo, Electric Guitar
Keyboard 1 (Breathy-bell Synth, Pno+Perc.E.P., Cowbell + Calliope, Pno/Rhodes, Pop Piano, Piano, Elec. Pno, Calliope, Kazoo, Cheap-sounding Piano, metal Clav, MetalClav + Calliope, Poly Synth, Stackoid, Tack Piano, Glittery Synth, Buzzy Xylo, Mysterious E.P., Sweet E.P., XyloGlock, Voices, Theremin, Shimmery Stuff, Many Flutes, Rock Piano, Clarinet)

.
Keyboard 2 (Breathy Pad, Bell Synth, Harpsichord, B-3, Cricket Synth, Elephant, Orch Hit, “Doing”, Psycho Strings, Tinkly Voices, Door Slam, Kalimba, Mallet Synth, Bell/Harpsi Synth, Pedal, Log Synth, Percussive B-3, Rok B-3, Calliope, Reedy Synth, Hank-y Synth, Nose Flute, Kazoo, Birdie Whistle, Tiny Synth Voice, Horn, Pig Synth, Animal Brss, Many Tubas, Bird Honk, Bird Fart, Hard Bottle Blow, AirRaid Siren, Spooky E.P., Warm E.P., Warm Voices, Celesta, Ethereal Choir, Spooky Voices, Dark Choir, Glittery Bell Synth, D-50 Stack, 80s Pad, Breathy Bell, Toy Piano, Cathedral Organ, Squishy Bass, Small Pipe Organ, Marimba, D-50 Heaven, Mello Organ, Rock Synth, Metal Clav, Hooty Synth, Clock Sound, Icy-cold Synth, Accordian, Ravenborg, Roller Rink Organ, Kazoo Brass, Cimbalum, Funky Horn, Pizzicato Strings, Sitar, Many Trombones & Horns, Buzz Brass)

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Percussion (Crotales, Chimes, Glockenspiel, Xylophone, Congas, Tympani, Djembe, Siren Whistle, Shaker, Vibraslap, Tambourine, Bell Tree, Triangle, Finger Cymbals, Piatti, Sleigh Bells, Vibraphone, Suspended Cymbal, Mark Tree, Cork Pop, Temple Blocks, Samba Whistle, Ratchet, Bongos, Cowbell, Scraper, Rainstick, Marimba)

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Reed 1 Soprano Saxophone, Alto Saxophone, Clarinet, Flute, Piccolo
Reed 2 Bass Clarinet, Clarinet, Oboe, Tenor Saxphone
Reed 3 Baritone Saxophone, Bassoon, Clarinet, Flute
Trombone
Trumpet 1
Trumpet 2
Viola
Violin 1
Violin 2

*******************

Here’s how I covered that orchestration:

(1) Electric Bass
(1) Cello
(1) Drums Kit, Woodblock, Piccolo Snare, Cowbell, Timbale, Shaker, Bell Tree, Flexitone, Mark Tree, Triangle (Your drummer will need a cowbell)

(1) Guitar 1 Acoustic Guitar and Electric Guitar
Guitar 2 – CUT
(1) Keyboard 1 – Piano and Hammond B3 (covered by conductor, you could also have a “piano player” cover Key I)

(1) Keyboard 2 – Reduced patches to: Electric Piano (one aggressive, one mellow) , B3 rock, B3 mellow, Heaven Pad, Bell Synth, Calliope, Reed Synth (oboe-ish sound), Theremin (whistle with portamento), CyberBorg (dance synth patch), Spooky Voices, Tick Tock (from drumset sound bank),

(1) Percussion – Keyboard 3 covers these mallet percussion parts from the percussion score: Chimes, Glockenspiel, Xylophone, Tympani, Vibraphone, Marimaba)
(1) Percussion – Live percussion player covering conga, djembe and latin percussion parts.
(1) Reed 1 – Flute, Piccolo
(1) Reed 2 – Bass Clarinet, Clarinet, Tenor Saxophone
(1) Reed 3 – Baritone Saxophone, Oboe (Oboe from Reed 2 part, BariSax has priority in uptempo songs, oboe has priority in ballads)
(1) Reed 4 – Alto Saxophone (From Reed 2 score)
CUT WOODWINDS if not available: Soprano Saxophone, Bassoon, Clarinet II, Flute II

(1) Trombone
(1) Trumpet 1
(1) Trumpet 2
Viola – CUT if not available.
(2) Violin 1 – Combine real violin player with Keyboard 4 (Keyboard player playing Violin I part, will need to select patches that blend with live players and Violin II part)
(2) Violin 2 – Combine real violin player with Keyboard 5 (Keyboard player playing Violine II part)

*******

4) How do you get a professional stringe ensemble sound – without using cheezy keyboard patches or investing in a full string section?

By combing quality keyboard string samples with live players. The live players will provide the attack and bend that you need in the sound, the keyboard covers the fullness of the sound. I have seen Seussical performed live with a full string section (three players per part) but it still did not have the nice full sound of symphony strings. My experience has been it is very difficult to pull that sound off within budget and the pool of players available.

5) How do you teach four part harmonies to grade school children, and have them remember the enormous amount of music in this show?

When we had auditions, we were very careful to check for singers that could sing harmonies, and grouped them accordingly to different character types. I have the more advanced singers cover the harmony parts, and the younger singers cover the melodies. In some sections where harmonies only come in on a couple notes, I simplified into two part harmonies and eliminated some harmonies. This was dictated by our particular casting, but I would guess this to be a similiar situation for most all-kid productions.

To learn all the music parts we broke into groups at rehearsals, many times having four different rehearsals running simultaneously. Singers were often brought in before rehearsals to work on particular ensemble parts and to reaffirm harmonies.

Once harmonies were in place, I would omit the lead line and play harmony parts to make them more solid for singers.

6) If using kids, how do you get the Wickershams to sound hip – the score is written for males who’s voice has already changed.

I changed the octaves of some parts, and had Wickershams speak some of the low parts. They are just too low for young unchanged voices. We did with attitude, and the final result was very hip.
7) What’s more important for the Cat In The Hat – vocal ability or acting ability?

I think acting ability is more important. Many of the Cat in the Hat vocal lines can be performed as speech-sing.

8) What to look for vocally in the different groups of Bird Girls, Who’s, Wickershams, Jungle Animals and lead characters of Mayzie, Gertrude, Sour Kangaroo, Horton the Elephant, JoJo and the General.

I put trained vocals in the Who section, they need a very pure sound with strong harmonies. Also worked with Who’s a lot on over-enunciation to make their parts more animated. Bird Girls – need to have 3part harmonies, we used 6 bird girls so each voice doubled. Without the harmonies, the Bird Girl part doesn’t come across, needs a “Supremes” type sound. General can also be speech-sing style. Need a strong vocalist for both Mayzie and Sour Kangaroo – I don’t really see a way around this, especially the Kangaroo. Horton’s part covers such a wide range, I think you’ll find speaking some lines instead of singing will work better for this character too (for a younger voice). I have Horton under-sing a lot, seems more in character.

9) Assming you are using a majority of children in your cast, how can they project over the orchestra?
Picking our sound crew was our first priority. Field mics for different vocal ensembles and dedicated wireless mics for leads and supporting characters. We also put the orchestra behind the cast so the sound crew would have more control over the final volumes – the particular hall we were in has a very live orchestra pit that is hard to control. Also, because I use several keyboardists to cover parts, it’s important to have a sound crew with a good ear so they can mix the textures properly.

Hope that helps, if you have any questions on the show or see a way something could have been improved, please post it.

47 comments

  • Hi. I’m an MD that’s been roped into doing KB2 on a Seussical production (with not much notice), and was looking at your notes on reducing the patches. Did you leave others out, or what?

    Thanks for anything you have the time to say.

    John

  • Byron Clinkingbeard

    Does anyone know of any rehearsal tracks for Seussical? I’ve found rehearsal tracks to be a great help.

  • I’d just like to leave a note to say how useful I’ve found this post.
    I’m currently musically directing a production of Seussical with a youth theatre group of kids aged 7-18 and I have found this information invaluable. I have referred to it so many times with regards to the orchestration and ways it can be cut down and substituted.

    Thank you so much

    Stace x

  • Hi Stace,
    Glad it helped you out. I try to post production notes when they are still fresh in my mind. If you have notes to add after you’re further into the production please come back and post those!

    It’s been three years since I did Seussical – but I have to say it’s in the top 3 musicals I’ve ever done as far as the enjoyment I received. The other two were Rocky Horror and Cirque Du Soleil. So for a kid’s musical – this is the BEST. And a good message to boot. 🙂

  • I know you don’t think Seussical is well-suited for a small ensemble, but if you had no other option, what do you think the most important instruments are? All of the information here is very helpful, so thanks for putting it out there!

  • Hi Hannah,
    You certainly could do Seussical with a small ensemble. The only crime is that you miss the experience of the orchestration. STM was orchestrated by Doug Besterman and he really is one of the best (maybe THE best) in the Broadway scene right now. His orchestration work is really magic.

    You could do Seussical with this group:
    Keyboard 1
    Keyboard 2
    Bass guitar
    Drums

    There you go, 4 piece group. It’s difficult to find musicians to play all the doubles on the woodwind charts unless you’re actually in a Broadway type setting I think. So the easiest full charts to add after that (for bang for the buck) would probably be trumpet and/or trombone.

    I have the main sound effects called for in the score available here:
    http://www.conradaskland.com/blog/2007/02/seussical-sound-effects/

    This would really add if you could have a sound person play these, or better yet have one of the keyboard players trigger the sounds on a laptop using Kontakt or a similiar sample program.

  • Thanks so much for your advice! I actually do have a trombone player, I will play the piano part, and I can probably hire another 4-5 people. You do recommend using 2 keyboards as opposed to 1 keyboard & 1 different instrument? I have already downloaded the sound effects and plan to use them–thanks so much!! It’s great to get advice about this kind of thing.

  • I’m realizing now that you probably meant one keyboard would be used for the “main” piano-conductor score, and the other for more special sound effects. Which helps me out since I’ll already be playing the “main” part, I only have to use part of the budget for one other keyboard player…if I’m assuming correctly what you meant!

  • To my memory, there are two keyboard parts and yes – the conductor could play Keyboard One. A lot of the music has grooves that go on for a while – so the conductor is free to play.

    When I did the show I conducted, played Keyboard One and also triggered the sound effects from the laptop using Kontakt. There were a few places I had to bring out the stick to conduct, but not too many.

  • We are doing Seussical this spring. Question about the keyboards. The plan is for myself (Conductor) to cover Keyboard 1 and have someone do Keyboard 2. Are these synthesizers, keyboards or midi players???? We only have pianos, so we are looking into renting, but want to make sure we rent the right thing!

  • Hi – I don’t know what you mean by “midi player” – but to my memory, the keyboard 1 part is primarily piano, electric piano and could be covered by any modern piano keyboard (the ones that look like a full piano, 88 weighted keys).

    The keyboard 2 part is more of a synthesizer, so any modern synth by Roland, Yamaha or Korg will work fine.

    There is very little actual traditional conducting needed for this show, so you’ll find it should work fine to play keyboard 1 and conduct.

    If this is confusing, tell the person you’re renting from that you want “An 88 key weighted keyboard” and a “good synthesizer by Roland or Yamaha” – you should be pretty safe. On my site here I also have the sound fx for Seussical available – they are located here:
    http://www.conradaskland.com/blog/2007/02/seussical-sound-effects/

  • Thanks so much for the great information! I have one more question that I’m hoping you can help me with. I just received the scores/instrumental parts. We have cast a female cat and the librettos all have the female cat cues in a different key, of course. However, none of the instrumental parts include the female version, only the male..?? Are we missing something? Did we have to ask for the female version? According to the contract, we were suppose to get both versions. I have asked MTI about this, but they said there was no special orchestration for a female cat. I am confused – can you clear this up for me?

  • Mmmm……that IS strange. The show I did was with a male cat – and I just vaguely remember the issue of male/female for the cat. So I’m afraid I’m not much help.

    I have done many shows before where the director asks me to change the key of an entire orchestration for them. If it’s a large orchestration I usually refuse because it’s a lot of work, not in my job description – and should have been taken into consideration when casting. If I had input on casting and they took my recommendations – then I would consider it my responsibility – but I usually cover keys pretty thoroughly during auditions. But that doesn’t help you now…

    I am very surprised that if there’s female cat cues – that there’s then not a female cat orchestration version. Seussical is performed often with a female cat so I would call MTI again and ask them what the other shows do – or ask for contact info of another show that used a female cat and ask them what they did.

    And when you find the answer can you come back here and let us know? Thanks!

  • Charlie Henderson

    Hey,
    We’ve just finished auditions, and we’re also waffling around with the possibility of using a female cat.

    I’m still not entirely sure, but I have a feeling that by default, they send the male version. I read on the production contract that there was an alternate orchestration – which oddly enough was the exact same instrumentation. My best guess is that is the one you want.

    In addition to a few changed keys, apparently there’s also an added part in the “Mayzie in Palm Beach” scene, where the Cat plays Mayzie’s beautician.

    Hope this helps.

    Charlie

  • Hello. Which MUTES are used by the Trombonist in SEUSSICAL? Thank you.

  • Trombone mutes – I don’t recall precisely. Although I’m pretty sure there’s a straight mute and call for wah-wah effects.

  • Sorry for my delayed update – after several phone calls and discussions, MTI finally realized that YES, there is an “alternate” score and sent it. There really isn’t an added part in “Mayzie in Palm Beach” – the scene is just different with all the words changed to accommodate the Female cat being a beautician.

    Our production is at the end of April!! We have a 60-student cast!! Wish us luck.

  • Thanks for the update AnnMarie! Break a leg, or as the French say: “Merde!”

  • Your blog is great! Can I get your recommendation? We are performing Seussical in about 30 days and I am trying to get the pit band together. The pit in the theater is very small and directly under the front of the stage. If you are more than 5’10” you can’t stand up. With no budget to hire another player to cover one of the keyboard books I am left to do as much as possible myself playing from the conductor score. I do have players for bass, electric guitar, and drum kit. My guitarist also plays keyboard but not well enough to pull off all of book 2. I have kontakt and a Kurzweil pc3x, I can do a lot of the sounds and fx.

    I haven’t mapped everything out yet, but I am thinking about using a lot of keyboard zones/splits and layering to fill in the sound as much as possible and have my guitarist play keyboard 2 when it makes sense and where he is comfortable.

    Are there certain numbers that you can recall where the electric guitar would have priority over keyboard 2 or is that never the case? I could have him play some of the auxiliary percussion from the keyboard as well. What would give me the most bang for my buck?

    Do you have any recommendations for me as I play from the conductor score on what other orchestration I should try to cover/emulate beside the piano-ish stuff?

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge and experience!

  • It’s a funny thing with music – I forget so much so quick. My current show I’ve done about 700 performances and we have a piece we cut for 5 months. We had to go back and play it on the fly and I couldn’t remember a single thing about it – but after we played four measures of it then I remembered the whole bloomin’ thing. So reaching back 4 years to Seussical is like trying to recall Egyptian hieroglyphics to me. 🙂

    To my memory – Seussical is not “stick-intensive” – I only had to use the baton on a few short numbers. So if the conductor is a player you can be more of a bandleader and give cues with a nod of your head and count-ins to the drummer. So yes, you’ll be free to play piano.

    If I’m conducting/bandleader I want to be able to focus on the sound and keep an eye what’s happening on stage so I would stick to the Keyboard 1 part with mainly piano, electric piano, etc. My main focus is to use the piano part to lead, and then have extra bells and whistles I can play if I’m not distracted – but I consider those extra parts.

    So my ultimate setup (and the one I used for Seussical) was an 88 key weighted piano center (for piano, electric piano, etc.), a Hammond B3 clone to my right (to throw in cool fills or pads if I felt like it), and on my left a keyboard running Kontakt (with my laptop on a board below the keyboard so I can sit down and edit). I play standing up with all keyboards on Ultimate stands.

    On my blog here I also have sound effects for Seussical – you can find them here:
    http://www.conradaskland.com/blog/2007/02/seussical-sound-effects/

    You can map these into Kontakt. There are great sound effects for the Entracte to Act II that fall in the breaks (car horns, splats, etc.) – also the egg breaking, water splash, elephant roar for Horton. They are sparse enough that you can trigger these also while conducting and playing. (Entrace is fun to play AND do sound FX).

    Here’s another viewpoint I have for you: When a musical starts and there’s not full orchestration, my first reaction is “Aw man, this really sucks” and then I quickly forget about it and my ear gets used to the scaled down sound, and it’s no problem. So I would suggest covering piano first as written, and then just adding parts from Key 2 if Key 1 is not playing anything. That keeps it simple, you’re covering the score, and you can multi-task to keep track of stage action and keep the ensemble together.

    Hope that helps. I still think Seussical was one of the most fun projects I ever worked on. For our production we had full orchestration with the orchestra spread across the back of the stage – kind of an old time big band presentation with soft lighting. Very fun and very classy.

    Which brings me to another thought – Seussical was one of the few shows I’ve done where the orchestra CAN be behind the performers on stage. Many of the songs just run and don’t have so much action that needs to be timed with the music. I had a video monitor for the few cues where I had to time to stage action. Also because many Seussical sets are a bit sparse, the orchestra on stage helped add interest for the audience.

  • What timing! Our production is in 2 wks….I just read Tim’s question about a small pit and your response about having 1 keyboard player, but playing mainly on the piano w/the synth “on the side”. We have a 20 piece pit, but only one keyboard player (me and I’m also conducting, with my head). My thought was to play solely on the synth and just to change sounds when necessary – do you think this would work out OK? I haven’t used a synth much, so I’m trying to keep it simple. Any suggestions?

  • BTW – my synth is a Roland Juno Di

  • I’m jealous! We have room for maybe 5 musicians in our pit max. I really like the idea of playing at the back of the stage, but with only 30 days out, I’m not sure I could convince the director and set crew to let me do that. I’m gonna ask anyway. I started getting my sounds setup last night, and even by myself, I had a pretty full sound so I think when I add bass, drums, aux percussion, guitar, and some of the second keyboard we should be in decent shape. I am basically playing the keyboard 1 part but out of the conductor score and I am layering different patches over the piano depending on the song. I think it will be a challenging but fun experience.

    Good luck with your show!

  • Conrad,
    I’m a synth beginner and very confused by Piano 2 book and the all the synth references. Should I be able to find the exact ‘sounds’ as noted on my synth (Roland Juno Di) – I have found some, but not all (i.e. breathy pad? Reedy synth?). I was thinking about playing the whole show on the synth, but now I’m thinking maybe to play on the piano mainly, but switch to the synth for certain songs. We open in 2 weeks and I’m stressing. Since we have a synth (we actually bought in because of this show, but lost the keyboard 2 player), I want to take advantage of it…..any words of wisdom? Suggestions for which songs to play on the synth?

  • Hi AnnMarie,
    Maybe I’m not helping here, but if I were in your shoes I’d be totally freaked out too. This is not a good situation. Let’s see what we can do here.

    My recommendation is to always have Keyboard 1 covered (the piano part). You’ll need to know if there are any parts in the show where Key 1 HAS to play to keep movement going and make sure you have those sections down cold. First priority is to keep your ensemble together and confident, second priority is to cover any Key 1 parts you can. If they feel you’re lost in the music trying to play then they will lose confidence.

    They Key 2 part is “ear candy” – so I that’s why I would give that up in place of Key 2. The last thing you want to do while conducting is to get lost trying to change synth patches (and making mistakes and getting flustered), especially if you aren’t used to making a lot of patch changes on the fly.

    The Roland Juno (I own one too) is a pretty awkward synth nowadays in my opinion. Although, it would work ok for Seussical, especially since you have a full orchestration. Normally I would only use the Roland Juno for very specific vintage analog sounds – for a retro effect.

    I also stress out big time for any production I do – which is usually why I over-rehearse myself to death. If I’m playing and conducting I need to have the music second nature. Conducting comes first, playing is only when it’s comfortable enough that you can do so while still keeping control of the ensemble.

    I have another recommendation for you. Call your local piano teachers and see if they have a good student who can cover some of the synth parts. Just have them play what they can do well, and if that ends up being just a couple lines then be cool with that. I’ve used student players a lot to cover small parts (like glockenspiel on keyboard when my pit percussion didn’t have or didn’t play bells) and it’s always been a great experience. Be clear with the student up front that they will not play all parts, and not to take it personal – and be gracious to them. Usually works out well, the student is grateful for the experience.

    I hope that helps – now run and start practicing the piano part!

  • hiya, great advice 🙂

    Can you connect your laptop to a normal stage piano with a normal usb to midi lead, and how do you get kontakt ?
    Doess it cost much ?

    Charlie

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  • Hi there! Great stuff! I’m about to tackle this show. Was wondering how difficult the guitar 2 part is. I’m a intermediate guitar player and would love to add a dynamic!

  • Hi Scott – I don’t remember anything about a guitar 2 part because I cut that in the production I did. The music in Seussical is not difficult, it’s just that there’s so much of it. Almost twice what you might find in other musicals. I am amazed that so many schools can pull off this production. I found the music challenging in all it’s different colors (excellent orchestration) and very rewarding. It was one of my favorite musicals to work on.

  • We pulled off a scaled down pit pretty well. Kybd 1 was an upright piano (conductor). Bass was played by a keyboard. Guitar 1 was only on electric guitar. Kybd 2 was covered by a lady with 2 synths set up (I guess that was to help accommodate all the voice changes?).
    Instruments we couldn’t find people to cover are: cello, guitar 2, soprano sax, tenor sax, and bari sax, clarinet 2 and 3, bassoon, and bass clarinet. The conductor just played those parts as needed on piano because the score covers pretty much everything with cues. I wish we had a bari sax though because it makes a big difference without it.
    The auxiliary percussion ended up spread around the pit and was played by anybody who happened to have a hand free when needed 🙂

  • Hi again,

    We are using the MTI scores. There is no overture, is there an orchestration floating around out there or did you use one? Thanks!

  • Well now – it’s been over 4 years since I did this show so my memory is a bit hazy. Don’t quote me, but to my recollection there is no overture (however there is an entr’acte to the second act).

    What we did was open it up to the imagination of the musicians. I remember the two of the saxophone players coming up with a rendition of the Mario Bros. theme which they played before the show. No introduction, just started playing it from behind a scrim. Then occasionally I would trigger an elephant trumpet or sound effect from the Kontakt rig on my computer. I also found several samples of different Dr. Seuss tv shows and played little bits here and there.

    The basic idea was to let the audience chatter ramp up a bit like it does before a show. Then surprise them out of nowhere with something. They would wait for more. Nothing would happen. Then audience chatter would start to rise again and BAM hit them with another little thing out of nowhere.

    I thought this fit into the kind of randomness and chaotic feel of Dr. Seuss. I felt it set up a good atmosphere for the audience. And remember, audiences usually love hearing the sound of your musicians warming up. (Well, at least I do…)

  • Hello,

    I have a question, we’re prepairing now for this musical.
    But there seems too bee no score with the chords…

    The sheetmusic is hired from MTI, do you know if there’s a score where the rythem and chords (sort of conductor score?) are displayed?

    Greets from the Netherlands,
    Emiel

  • I have no score where all instruments are covered, it seems logical to me that there must be something like that.

    Now, I have to look to all the different books to see if there are essential parts missing.
    Did you have a complete orchestration score?

    Let me know and thanks in advance,
    Emiel

  • hey,

    i am just wondering if you know were to buy a copy of the guitar one book for the pit, i really would like to re learn a lot of those songs. if you know were it would be helpful.

    thank you
    mitch

  • Hi all,

    For anyone looking for the Overture (I’m really surprised this isn’t included in the rental materials), I have taken the liberty of transcribing, orchestrating and engraving the album version for your use here:

    http://www.sendspace.com/file/zbqaoq

    It is scored for the original orchestrations and leads right into your No. 1 in the books, just like you hear it on the cast album. It is very workable for whatever permutation of the original orchestrations you may have to work with—There is a lot of doubling in these big instrumental numbers, anyway.

    Happy music-making!

    Warm regards,
    Brad Bosenbeck
    Conductor/Orchestrator/Arranger/Copyist

  • Thanks for providing that Brad.

    When I did Seussical they did include the full Overture in the score. This was November 2006 and I think it was through MTI. I’m surprised this changed.

  • Brad Bosenbeck

    Hi everyone,

    Here is an updated, revised and cleaned-up version of the Seussical Overture materials (The previous link has been terminated):

    http://www.sendspace.com/file/tfexrp

    Enjoy!

    Regards,
    Brad

  • Hi Brad,

    Could you plese re-upload the seussical overture if possible plese, I am currently MD’ing a production out here in AUS and am very keen to have the overture played!!!!!

    Regards,

    Matt

  • Hello, would you be able to re-upload the overture if you’re still ok with sharing it?!
    Thanks!
    Phil

  • I’m really keen to get a hold of that overture too please!
    (neither of the links work now)

    Thanks in advance,

    Warwick

  • How would you rate the difficulty and play style of Keyboard 2? Is it just chords? Are there moving lines? I ask this because I would like to perform in the orchestra for this musical, but as there is no horn part, I am resorting to piano. Being self-taught, I am not anything close to a virtuoso by any means. I can locate all notes easily and play at a comfortable tempo, but I would just like to know if that part gets complicated at all.

    Thanks!

  • Hi everyone. I’m the musical director for a high school production of Seussical JR. Our Theatre director told me we would not be using a pit band for this production (which is odd for us) and that we would use the accompaniment CD instead. She also says that she doesn’t think that a conductor is necessary because we are using a CD. As a musical director, I must say I disagree because actors still need cues, and our conductor always helps call the show. What is your opinion? Should she have a conductor, or should the actors do it on their own?

  • Hi Ben,
    Well, I’ll start by saying it’s very sad to me when shows do not use live musicians, but that is slowly the direction that many theater groups are going. Many theater groups now take advantage of programs like Main Stage to use interactive sound tracks and fewer live musicians in their productions. Having also been on the production and budget side of producing shows, it is an unfortunate necessity in this economy as ticket sales fall.

    The second sad news is yes, it is true that a conductor is not needed if you are using tracks. As a fellow conductor I commiserate with you on that.

    The conductor is needed with live shows to control tempos and keep everything on track. If you are using a CD soundtrack then the cues are always set, so no need for a conductor as long as your cast is well prepared.

    Last year I premiered one of my new musicals “Witches!” (http://www.WItchesMusical.com) and because I felt the musical requirements were too diverse for what I needed from local players, I programmed the entire soundtrack in Ableton Live. If you’re not familiar with that software, think of it like a CD player with the added capability to do vamps on the fly, repeats, fermatas – all triggered to the live action on stage.

    My cast was very well prepared in rehearsal to know what the audio cues were for their entrances. I sat in the back of the house with the stage manager and triggered the whole show without cueing any of the cast. There was not a single dropped entrance that I recall from the entire run.

    Thought I’d add that I did hire professional musicians for the soundtrack, so musicians still got work from the run and the soundtrack had a “live” feel, not just sequenced midi junk.

    The second thing to keep in mind is to satisfy your director, because the director is always right. That’s the one rule of theater, and a good one if we want to keep working. 🙂

    Bottom line, rehearse your cast mercilessly with the soundtrack in rehearsals so they can get their entrances without any cues – and you should have a successful run.

    Now, let’s figure a magic way to get more ticket sales so theaters can get back to using live musicians!

  • Oh – another tidbit. My latest original musical is premiering in September 2013, PAN the musical (http://www.PanMusical.com) – It is scored for a live band (Oboe, Clarinet, Tuba, Key 1, Key 2, Bass, Drums). I will be playing Key 1 and giving cues to musicians, but will be giving NO cues to singers on stage. This is partly because of the logistics, there is no pit in our theater for the premiere run so we are located on the side House Left. But also no cues because the singers are well rehearsed and don’t need them. Now, I did orchestrate the score myself so I was able to incorporate clear cues for all entrances. In this scenario, I love not cueing the singers. I like that they can focus on their performance and not have to keep looking to downstage center.

  • Would any know of a full orchestral conductors score rather than just a piano/conductors score?

  • Thank you so much for all this information! I am directing the show at a small school and normally use students to play when possible. Everyone has asked or answered all the questions I have! In my seven years of directing, I have never found such a valuable resource!

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