“My job entails working alongside the director and the choreographer. Initially we start the casting procedure on a show. Obviously I will want to have good singers, a good variety of voices, and the director will want certain actors and the choreographer, he wants fantastic dancers. When it comes down to the very final auditions, we will be fighting our corner to make sure that our department is looking fantastic, sounding fantastic. But the combination of the three of us work together on the process of auditioning, and then we get into rehearsals.”Jae Alexander
A Musical Director (MD) takes responsibility for all the musical elements of a production, leading both the actors and musicians through rehearsals and in performance, conducting the orchestra and cast.
- Working closely with the director and, on large-scale musicals, Musical Supervisor and Sound Designer to fully-realise the work and remain faithful to the vision of the author and director
- Rehearsing the musicians
- Working with the actors to learn and perfect the music
- Directing them in their vocal performance
- Supervising the detail of the musical score in each performance, ensuring consistency of delivery and freshness
A typical career pathway for a Musical Director may start with being a rehearsal pianist, then progressing to Assistant Musical Director and finally to MD. Often experienced Musical Directors, in terms of their musicianship and management skills, become Musical Supervisors.
The role is similar to MD but usually more creative in the early stages of a production, then mostly consultative once it’s opened. Musical Directors are constantly honing their craft, some take conducting lessons and others observe fellow MDs.
Other courses are available. Those above represent a sample from various drama schools and universities.
- The Musical Director’s Handbook by Stuart Morley, 2012