The Producers – Performed by the Jefferson Performing Arts Society (JPAS)

Tonight we saw “The Producers”.

I had forgotten how much I enjoyed musicals. In Massachusetts, musical theatre was a big part of most musicians’ lives. I haven’t played in one for years, and it definitely made me miss it. Being in a pit band/orchestra is a very interesting dynamic. You perform differently when you know your parts are cues for on-stage performers or act as program music and sound effects to what’s going on above you. The level of focus is intense and exacting, or it can’t be pulled off well. It’s also an understated humbling feeling to be a part of a whole production and see it happen from the first rehearsal to the last performance. I hear a lot of people say how people should have experience in two things at some point in their lives: waiting tables and working in a retail store. I’d like to add that musicians should experience playing in a pit.

So, “The Producers”. I loved it. I heard of it and knew some of the music, but had never seen it live before. I give several props (silly pun intended) to the Jefferson Performing Arts Society for putting on a fantastic production. The only two things that bugged me were the non-musicians on stage playing instruments – the violinist and the pianist. Neither of them was even slightly convincingly playing their “instruments” and it just looked nonsensical. I couldn’t focus on anything else because I was so frustrated at those moments, and let’s face it – it’s musical theatre. There will be musicians in your audience. Spending 30 minutes having a private lesson on the instrument even if you’re just practicing for a non-playing performance would have fixed all of that. It’s the only thing that tapered the production to me.

The music in the piece was fantastic, and the performers (except the aforementioned issues) were brilliant and faultlessly cast. I laughed the entire way through it, and walked away looking forward to their next production. I don’t think we have anything like that in New Orleans (it was in the next city over), and I never see this particular organization advertised within the city limits. JPAS is certainly a jewel.

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