Tracking” Musical Productions

SCT Artis­tic Direc­tor Jim Cole­man is a pro­fes­sional musi­cian who worked on Broad­way and around the coun­try as a Musi­cal Direc­tor for over 30 years. He will next direct 42ND Street, which will be on stage at SCT dur­ing June-July 2011.

To track or not to track? That is the question!

As we all know, the orches­tra is a huge part of any musi­cal — in fact, you can’t do a musi­cal with­out one! At SCT, we are very for­tu­nate to be blessed with many fine musi­cians in the Stock­ton area who are will­ing to work for what we can pay them.

In the past cou­ple of Sea­sons, we have pro­duced three musi­cals that have been “tracked”. Those were The Pro­duc­ers, Joseph and the Amaz­ing Tech­ni­color Dream­coat, and Okla­homa! A tracked musi­cal is one in which the full orig­i­nal Broad­way orches­tra­tion has been recorded in a the­atre or record­ing stu­dio, and is made avail­able for local pro­duc­tions across the coun­try. In our area, Sierra Reper­tory The­atre and Fal­lon House have used the track­ing sys­tem for years.

You may ask, why has SCT started doing this?

The expla­na­tion is grounded purely in eco­nomic con­sid­er­a­tions. I am a musi­cian myself, and I love live music, but today we face a harsh eco­nomic cli­mate, where we must watch what we spend with­out dimin­ish­ing the qual­ity of the pro­duc­tions we bring to our loyal patrons. The music for a show is a major bud­getary item. The cost of pro­vid­ing a live orches­tra for a sin­gle pro­duc­tion comes to around $8,000.00, while the cost of pro­vid­ing a tracked orches­tra­tion is about $2,500.00. That is a huge sav­ings for us, and thank­fully our musi­cians have been very under­stand­ing about the sit­u­a­tion. Not all shows are avail­able in a tracked form, how­ever, and for those, we still use a live orchestra.

Live music is not dead at SCT, and it will never be, but for some shows tracked music is an excel­lent choice. In our effort to pro­duce great shows, while uphold­ing qual­ity and con­trol­ling costs, we are pay­ing close atten­tion to every­thing we spend.

By address­ing this issue, I hope I have pro­vided knowl­edge that will help our audi­ences under­stand some of the dif­fi­cult deci­sions we are mak­ing in regard to expenses. The true bot­tom line? We are here to give you the very best value for your enter­tain­ment dol­lar, and your con­tin­ued sup­port means every­thing to us. - Sub­mit­ted by Artis­tic Direc­tor Jim Coleman

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