Previous productions of Emma Rice’s version of BRIEF ENCOUNTER have included Noël Coward songs blended with other period classics. For the first time, this production uses original Coward songs throughout
During rehearsals, Musical Supervisor/Orchestrator/MD Matthew Malone discussed the practicalities of putting a live jazz band on stage, and his approach to working with those revered, familiar tunes.
In layman’s terms, how would you describe your job?
I’m the Music Supervisor for the show, but on this job I’m also the Musical Director. As Music Supervisor, I’m basically responsible for taking the music – in this case, Noël Coward’s songs – and working with the director to arrange that music into a state that’s reflective of their artistic vision. I then take that music in its song form and teach that to the cast, so they know the melodies and are ready to sing them. Then I arrange and orchestrate that music for our band.
Essentially, it’s musically facilitating [Director] Sarah Frankcom’s vision and overseeing all musical aspects of the show, whether that’s the songs or underscore, or even musical elements where there might be sound design in there. I work quite closely with Russell [Ditchfield], our Sound Designer, to make sure that those two marry up.
The musical direction side of things is kind of part of the same job, but more specifically it’s teaching the songs to the band, going through the music with them and then playing with the band in the shows.
Bringing a live four-piece jazz band on stage would seem to be quite a challenge.
Presumably the particular approach you’re taking with the music is born out of conversations you’ve had with Sarah [Frankcom], so it’s designed to reflect and emphasise the overall tone of the production?
The full interview between author Andy Murray and Matthew Malone, along with interviews with Director Sarah Frankcom and Designer Rose Revitt can be found in the BRIEF ENCOUNTER Programme.
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