Show Blog: Where's Charley? Remembering Lloyd
Musical Director, Steven Greenfield takes us behind the scenes of Studio 58's upcoming production of Where's Charley?
Two summers ago, I had the opportunity to work with Lloyd Nicholson on the Chemainus Theatre Festival's production of South Pacific. I was in the ensemble, as well as covering the Piano II part when I was available. In a way, Lloyd took me under his wing. I learned so much about musical directing just from watching him work with the actors. On quite a few occasions, after an evening performance, Lloyd and I would be the last two to leave the pub, having bored everyone else to tears long ago with our consistent, excited chat about musical theatre. Although it is with great sadness that I've stepped in to musical direct Where's Charley? (as it serves as a constant reminder of the huge void that Lloyd has left in the theatre community--it's still near impossible to imagine a Vancouver musical theatre community without him), it is also with great pride. Lloyd has left huge shoes to fill, but he's also left a fierce passion for this beautiful art form that he loved so much in all of the artists that he has ever inspired.
We've been in rehearsal for two and a half weeks now, and Lloyd's spirit has touched every part of the process. Although I'm a very different musical director than Lloyd was, I've realized during rehearsals that there was a reason that Lloyd worked the way that he did: he got the results that he wanted. As I musical direct this show, and because I'm working with students who knew Lloyd's way of working so well, I find myself giving notes, and hearing Lloyd's voice in my head. Much the same way that people say "I sound like my mother or father", I find myself thinking "I sound like Lloyd". And that's a very good thing, I think. Shelley Stewart Hunt (choreographer), Shawna Parry (assistant choreographer) and I were talking the other day, and Shelley mentioned that one thing that she always remembered about Lloyd here at Studio 58 was that during performances, he would always have a huge Cheshire Cat-like smile on his face. I also mentioned that I remember him always waiting around on the bandstand for the first few minutes of the intermission, just in case any audience members had any questions or comments about the production so far or just wanted to discuss musical theatre in general, he would be there for them. Both of these qualities are "Lloydisms" that I would love to emulate during the run of this production.
Frank Loesser, the composer/lyricist of Where's Charley?, also wrote the lyrics for the ever-popular song "Heart and Soul". How appropriate this song title seems to apply to Lloyd, not only regarding his own devotion to musical theatre, but more importantly his commitment to fostering new devotees. May we all continue to strive for excellence in everything we do, as Lloyd would expect nothing less from us.
Studio 58's production of Where’s Charley? runs March 25th – April 18th. For more information, go here.