A Music Director's Epic Tale: Les Miserables

Chapter 7 : Rehearsals

7.3 - Being An Effective Scheduler

Some of the more difficult songs were slated for earlier in the process to allow for more review. Also, because the lead roles were being handled by some fairly accomplished young men and women, I could trust leaving certain songs for a little later in the schedule to work more with the ensemble earlier on. "Bring Him Home" was actually not scheduled for learning until near the end of the learning phase! Yet our Valjean listened to it intensly on his own, and due to his great singing ability, he was able to learn the song quickly. It didn't take me too long to flesh out the parts that needed "fine tuning". And it was a major hit when he performed in the show. Our Eponine blew us away with her rendition of "On My Own" during callbacks, and she didn't need very much direction at all to have it be "show ready". The same was true with Gavroche's death scene.

The basic rehearsal premise was that we'd publish the rehearsal schedule out for two weeks. This allowed the cast to listen to the music being taught ahead of time. We would typically learn about three songs in an evening. The following rehearsal would include review of the songs taught previously, plus new material. We fairly quickly were able to determine which songs were working and which needed extra time. This coincided pretty well with the notes I had taken ahead of time. For songs which involved just one person, or only a couple of characters, we tried to do those on the Saturday rehearsals. I also used Saturdays later in the rehearsal schedule to work one-on-one with certain people, who either needed some fine-tuning with their vocal skills, or in-depth character reanalysis, or other general help with particular songs.