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Behind the Buzz at Port Summer Show’s Urinetown: Meet the Musical Director

Allison Friedman- Musical Director for Urinetown, the musical!
Allison Friedman- Musical Director for Urinetown, the musical!

Recently, as I walked past the Schreiber High School Choir Room, I heard beautiful singing filled with soulful harmonies.  And I also heard giggles, encouragement, peals of laughter, and  cheering.  The energy at Urinetown musical rehearsals is absolutely contagious.  Meet Allison Friedman, Urinetown’s experienced and energetic Musical Director, who has been working on Port Summer Show for seven years.  This is her first year manning the helm as the Musical Director.  Recently, I caught up with Allison and had the opportunity to ask a few questions:

 

·   Tell me about your other job, when you aren’t working with Port Summer Show? 

I am a music teacher for the Port Washington School District.  For the last 9 years, I have worked at South Salem Elementary School as the elementary general music and chorus teacher (also taught some instrumental lessons).  However, starting in the fall, I will be teaching 6th grade chorus and 7/8th grade general music at Weber Middle School. I have been the co-advisor/musical director for the Weber Drama Club for the last five years.  Fellow Salem teacher Stacey Baker and I will be starting an elementary theatre program for 4th and 5th graders called: “Curtain’s Up” this fall thanks to a wonderful grant from HEARTS; we will be putting on a production of: The Wiz.  Outside of PWSD, I am the theatre and digital production specialist at Camp Iconic in Bellmore and am in charge of their annual summer musical and for the last two years, I have worked at the Sid Jacobson JCC as the musical director for their K-2 theatre program.

 

·         What do you like about Port Summer Show (PSS)?  Is this group different from other theater groups you work with?

I think the PSS is an amazing organization who always puts on a high quality, spectacular show! This group is accepting, talented, encouraging, and high energy.   The expectations are high, the creative juices flow, and everyone has a ton of fun; there are always smiles on everyone’s faces!

I also love getting to work on a PSS show since it incorporates a bigger age range than we get to work with in school productions.  It is so nice to see new incoming 7th graders being taken under the wings of experienced recent high school graduates.  It is a wonderful learning experience for all involved and a great way to encourage our town’s thespians to continue their interest and love for musical theatre. One of the best things about working on a PSS show for me is that I have the opportunity to work with many of my former students.  For instance, Nate Krantz (Bobby Strong) and Wyn Stopford (Officer Lockstock) were both elementary music students of mine, who I also had the privilege of working with in the Weber Drama Club.  The cast and pit are filled with many former Salem students!

 

·         Urinetown!  …seems to be a cult favorite with all theater folks I talk to…Why?  What do you like about it? When you first saw it, what were your impressions?

My first experience with Urinetown was in 2007 when I was the musical director of the Schreiber HS performance.  I had never seen or heard selections for the show prior, but was hooked after the first rehearsal.  The music is catchy, the script is witty, and it’s all around a fun show.  It’s hard to explain how great Urinetown is until you get a chance to experience seeing the show yourself. 

 

·         What is it like to direct and to work with such a large and enthusiastic bunch?

 It is amazing.  The cast is filled with such talented kids who have such a passion for performing; they make every rehearsal a fun and exciting experience.

 

·         I hear that you and Solomon Hoffman, Conductor, met during Urinetown, way back at Schreiber?  What is that story?

Back in 2007, I was the vocal director of the Schreiber High School’s production of Urinetown and I had the privilege of meeting Solomon for the first time — he was playing clarinet in the pit orchestra.  That summer, I also saw him around the campus of USDAN (I was working there as a director) and I got to hear all about the Port Summer Show.  That Fall, I also starting to conduct the pit orchestras of the Schreiber productions and Solomon played in my pits.  The summer of 2008, I was recruited to play for the pit of PSS’s The Boyfriend  conducted by Solomon and we have been working together ever since.

 

·         What is it like working with Solomon , who is the conductor?  Your rehearsals are separate with you working with the cast and Solomon separately working with the orchestra.  How do you work together to synchronize the orchestra and actors for the performances?(what is your secret?)

It can be tricky to work separately from the pit conductor because things like tempos, cut offs, stylized elements, etc, need to be agreed on.  Luckily, Solomon and I have been friends for years and communicate well — also technology is great (email, texts, etc!)

 SAVE THE DATE! Urinetown-Winner of three Tony Awards, three Outer Critic’s Circle Awards, two Lucille Lortel Awards, and two Obie Awards, Urinetown is an earnest tale of love, greed, and revolution. Drawing from West Side Story, Chicago, and Les Misérables , the show irreverently pays witty homage to the great American musical theatre tradition. Hilariously funny and touchingly honest, Urinetown provides a fresh perspective of one of America’s greatest art forms. 

Performance Dates are August 7-9 at 7:30 PM and August 10 at 2:00 PM in the air-conditioned Schreiber High School Auditorium. Tickets are $10, kids 12 and under are $5. (Senior citizens admitted free on August 7.)  Please check www.portsummershow.org

 for information on presale tickets as last year’s performances sold out.

 

For information, to buy tickets, or to sponsor the summer show call 516-777-0220, email info@portsummershow.org or visit www.portsummershow.org . 

“Urintetown the musical……it’s not what you “tink”!”

 

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