Crouching in the musician pit, Roger Grow quickly changes into a sparkly gray suit jacket. He runs onstage for his few lines as a radio show host. The rest of the musicians wait in silence. Once his lines have been delivered, he runs back and leaps into the pit, ripping off his jacket and launching into the next song without a moment’s hesitation.
For the past week, Roger and seven musicians have been meeting after school from 6-9:30pm in the band room to prepare for the musical. With the sitz probe (when the actors and musicians get together and run through all the music) canceled last week due to adverse weather, the first time the actors and musicians met was during dress rehearsals.
“I’m not worried,” comments Libby Belitsos, who plays the role of Lenora. “We always pull through.”
Guitarist Chris Robertson carries some of his many guitars to the pit.
The instrumentation is as follows: Cooper Lamb on the tenor sax and clarinet, Andy Hall on bari sax, Chris Robertson and Stephen Looke on guitar, Brent Thomas on bass, Wilson Knight on drums, and Roger Grow on the piano.
Cry Baby takes place in the late 50’s era, and it shows in the music. Many of the show tunes are of the rock, blues, and upbeat swing genres. U-32 acquired the rights to the play two days after it became available, and we will be the second high school to ever perform it.
The music is new, and the sheet music appears to be unfinished in some places. Songs start on measure 37 and proceed to 37A, to 37B, to 37C, to 41. Half of the bassist’s chart was in the wrong key. Here is part of the second guitar lead sheet with a misprinted chord.
“The music is fun, but it’s been heavily altered,” says Nate Morris, who plays Skippy Wagstaff.
For instance, at the beginning of the song “You Can’t Beat The System”, when the actors are still getting into position, Roger decided to add a repeat and vamp the first three measures, plus the last measure of the previous song. The band repeats indefinitely until Roger gives the cue to go on with the song, and the singers come in and the play commences.
“It’s something you wouldn’t notice unless you read the sheet music,” explains Serenity Northrup, a stage manager. “It gives the actors time to move, and avoids an otherwise awkward pause.”
Crybaby is being performed Friday at 7pm, Saturday at 2pm and 7pm, and one last show on Sunday at 2pm.