Rehearsals, Week One

It’s been tremendous fun (and a little stressful) to cast my musical, Tobit: The Path of Virtue. We’ve finished the first full week of rehearsals, and I’ve had a chance to hear the singers learn and sing just about every song. That has been enormously gratifying. I can see that outside of liturgical music it would be easy to get a composer’s big head about this stuff. I’ve had to swallow a comment or two, and let the singers sing and the director direct. In liturgical music, the expectation is that the composer will sing the piece the smallest sliver of the time. It will be good for me to bring that same expectation to this musical–to allow the people interpreting the songs the freedom to get into the character and present it from their own soul.

It’s a learning experience for me, as I’ve never played a musical before. A few singers are working out a bit of timidity as they get comfortable with the music. After practice the other night, I asked David, my musical director, if one guy was going to be okay. He said it was just nerves and not being familiar with the songs–he was the last lead we cast. He was going to be fine, David said. So I’m not going to worry about it. I have enough to do to learn my own songs, and play them competently.

I feel very grateful for the cast. We have some fantastic singers. All of our supporting cast, with maybe only one exception, is good enough to take a lead part. I’m amazed that for Tobiah, Sarah, and Raphael, we seem to have the perfect people in those roles. Perfect. And the parents are also very well cast, very suitable for the people taking those parts.

I’ve started keeping a brief journal in the pages of my score. I want to write down and remember the experience of it as it happens. It might have some spiritual value, but I also want to learn from my mistakes. One song doesn’t have a piano part written yet–oops.

For the curious, here’s the rundown of the production:

ACT ONE 

  1. “Overture” by the band
  2. “Introduction/The Path of Virtue” by Anna and Tobit
  3. “My Father Tells Me” by Tobiah and neighbors
  4. “Mourning and Lamentation” by Tobit, Anna, and neighbors
  5. “Sparrows, Doctors, and a Goat” by Tobit, Anna, and Tobiah
  6. “Prayer for Deliverance” by Tobit
  7. “Sarah’s Theme” by the band
  8. “Sarah, Sarah, Look at You” by the servants
  9. “Sarah’s Burden” by Sarah with Tobit at the end
  10. “The Angel Is Sent” by the band
  11. “Keep To The Path” by Tobit
  12. “Do You Know the Way to Media” by Tobiah, Raphael, and Tobit
  13. “A Good Angel Will Go With Him” by Tobit and Anna

ACT TWO

  1. “The Journey” by the band
  2. “She Was Set Apart For You” by Raphael and Tobiah
  3. “Peace To This House” by Raphael, Tobiah, and Raguel                       
  4. “Today and Ever After” by Raguel
  5. “The Wedding” by the band
  6. “Be Brave, My Daughter” by Sarah and Edna
  7. “Raphael Binds The Demon” by the band
  8. “Marriage Prayer” by Tobiah and Sarah
  9. “Dig a Hole/Parents’ Praise” by Raguel, Edna, and servants
  10. “The Lord Give Heaven’s Blessing” by Gabael
  11. “Go In Peace” by Tobiah, Raguel, Edna, and Sarah
  12. “I Wonder What Has Happened” by Tobit and Anna
  13. “I Can See You” by Anna, Tobiah, and Tobit
  14. “Bless God, Tell and Sing” by Raphael
  15. “Praise Canticle” by the cast

I’m pleased with some decisions, such as the one to chop up Tobit’s narrative at the beginning of the book and place it with three voices in two songs. And where the text of the Scriptures was rather terse, such as in “Mourning and Lamentations” to supplement Tobit 2:4-8 with material from Psalm 14 or in “The Lord Give Heaven’s Blessing” to use Tobit 9:6 with Psalm 128.

A specific example is with the text of “Be Brave, My Daughter,” which expands Tobit 7:17 with material adapted from Psalm 143:7-9:

Sarah:

Hasten to answer me, O Lord, for my spirit fails me.
Hide not your face from me, lest I become like those who go down into the pit.

Edna:

Be brave, my daughter. May the Lord of heaven grant you joy.
In place of your grief, may the Lord of heaven grant you joy.

Sarah:

At dawn, let me hear of your kindness, for in you I trust.
Show me the way in which I should walk, for to you I lift up my soul

Then while her mother sings the refrain again, Sarah adds:

Rescue me from my enemies, O Lord,
for in you I hope, in you I hope, in you I hope.

November 12-13 weekend. Saturday 7:30pm, Sunday 2pm

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
This entry was posted in Scripture, Tobit, Todd's music. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Rehearsals, Week One

  1. crystal says:

    It sounds great. I’ve never seen a church play/musical This reminds me of a homily about Tobit and Sarah by Fr. Rob Marsh – http://rmarsh.com/2005/06/01/wednesday-week-9-year-i/

    Might you videotape the musical?

  2. Todd says:

    I might. I’m more excited about getting a nice recording of the music.

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