‘How do you get a gig in this town?’
Volume 112, No. 12December, 2012
Every day the staff in the Theatre Department is asked, "How
do you get a job in this town?" The answer? Network! Local 802 has hosted
an annual Meet and Greet for participants in the New York Musical Theatre
Festival – and later the Fringe Festival – since 2005. This year, Local 802
staff and theatre musicians attended 20 NYMF shows and 12 Fringe shows, to make
contacts with new musicians. This brings the total number of productions seen
since 2005 to just over 220. Three of these have gone on to Broadway ("Next
To Normal," "[Title of Show]" and "Chaplin"), with
dozens more going to Off Broadway and regional theaters.
After the festivals are concluded each year, we host our annual
Meet and Greet networking event with a panel of experts from different parts of
the theatre industry – contractors, instrumentalists, orchestrators, music
directors and producers, among others. Approximately 90 festival musicians and
new members attended this year.
Our panelists included:
Jay Brandford, a member of Local 802’s Executive
Board as well as a member of the orchestra of "Nice Work if You Can Get
Jack Cummings, the artistic director of the Off
Broadway Theatre Company Transport Group, which recently put on the musical
"Queen of the Mist."
Matt Hinkley, the associate music director for the
revival of "Godspell."
John Miller, who has contracted dozens of Broadway
and Off Broadway shows and national tours.
Charlie Rosen, who recently served as the music
director of "One Man, Two Guvnors."
The night began with panelists discussing how important it is for
musicians to treat their work as a business. Networking and professionalism are
key. Jay Brandford told the audience, "Like it or not, word-of-mouth is
very powerful in this business. Musicians, conductors and contractors can and
will call around before offering an opportunity to a new player. Do your best to
make sure that the word on the street about you is good."
The panel repeatedly emphasized that your performance has to be
Charlie Rosen said, "If I’m in the audience of a gig at any
venue of any size and I see or hear a great musician really kill it in their
performance, I’m going to want to meet that player. This is even more true if
I’m playing on a gig with somebody I’ve never met before and we vibe really
well together in our performance." Other panelists discussed the importance
of honing your craft and realizing that the theatre world is more than Broadway.
Matt Hinkley said, "For me, it started out as relationships
with writers and composers. I had the advantage of knowing some folks affiliated
with NYU and the Tisch Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program," and it
was this work that enabled him to meet many music directors and eventually work
his way up to Broadway.
Finally, your other gigs help cultivate relationships, in addition
to such mundane things as paying the rent. You can’t sit and wait for the gig
to come to you. As John Miller pointed out, "You have to play where you
Next year’s Meet and Greet will take place in fall of 2013. For
more information, contact Marisa Friedman at Mfriedman@Local802afm.org.