‘Why we joined the union’

Volume 115, No. 4April, 2015


Top row, from left: Rona Siddiqui, Steel Margarita and Dan Berkery. Bottom row: Matt Bray, Aaron Drescher and Arturo Dennihy.

I joined Local 802 when I became the substitute music director for the Off Broadway production of “The Fantasticks.” I am here in NYC to be a musical theatre writer; I graduated from NYU’s graduate program in musical theatre writing, and am now happily writing and music directing some amazing projects here. My favorite recent gig is becoming the new music director of the Youth Pride Chorus. Working with those talented and amazing kids is an honor and a privilege. I heard about the job through the NYU community and I hit it off with the artistic director when I went in to audition. I recently played my first concert with them and look forward to many more. My principal instrument is piano, but I also love playing cajon and djembe.

Rona Siddiqui

I joined Local 802 because I would like to purse my musical career to new horizons. My very first official gig in NYC was just over a year ago at the Marriott Marquis Hotel. I’ve also played in Long Island – at Tanner Park, Wall’s Wharf and Jones Beach. My wonderful and beautiful instrument is the steel pan. Most people mistakenly call it a “steel drum,” which it is not. This Caribbean instrument starts as a steel drum but is transformed after two years of labor into a steel pan. I play parties, weddings, cocktail hours, colleges, companies and private homes. This instrument continues to bring me much joy, peace and relaxation. I also facilitate drum circles for adults, childrens, seniors, communities and families.

Steel Margarita

I joined Local 802 so I could be more connected to other musicians working in theater in NYC. My musical goals in the city are to sub on Broadway and eventually get my own show. Prior to moving to NYC, I lived in Philadelphia for six years, playing in wedding bands, regional theatre, big bands and jazz combos, and teaching private lessons. My favorite most recent gig was getting a chance to sub on the drum book for the regional production of “In the Heights” at the Walnut Street Theater in downtown Philly. I got this gig from my former teacher and good friend Joe Nero Sr., for whom I’ve subbed on five or six shows. My principal instruments are drum set and percussion.

Dan Berkery

I joined Local 802 to connect with other musicians and find people who need a freelance guitarist to tour, perform, sub or co-write, and to forge friendships with some other great NYC musicians. I’m hoping to meet some fantastic musicians and make great work together. I’d like to do a lot of different things: session work, musical theater, record original music, join or form a band…we’ll see what happens. After living in New York for just three months, I was able to sub in the Broadway musical “Wicked,” thanks to some really excellent friends and mentors. I can’t wait to do more! My principal instrument is guitar: electric, acoustic, rock, jazz and classical.

Matt Bray

I joined Local 802 right after moving to NYC. Joining the union was suggested by some friends of mine in musical theatre, which is a field I am heavily interested in. I would like to eventually play the drum book in a Broadway musical. My favorite most recent gig was playing “In The Heights” at the SpeakEasy Stage Company in Boston, Mass. My principal instrument is drums.

Aaron Drescher

As an accomplished guitarist, I joined Local 802 like many others to find gigs in NYC. I cannot say I pursue music as my only occupation because I need to survive. I am, however, an extraordinary talent. I am also deadly handsome with a nice voice. I’ve played in clubs and college venues. I can play any stringed instrument, but my forte is lead guitar. Jazz, blues, rock and acoustic all are in my repertoire.

Arturo Dennihy