Working in London’s West End

By Dan Francis Owen

In this article we’re going to take a closer look at the world of musical theatre, which can be a reliable source of employment if you have the right skill set it . You’ll also get to play with some great musicians! In addition to having all the appropriate personable qualities, you’ll need to be good at working in a team and have an approachable, positive attitude. You’ll also need to be comfortable taking direction, always prepared and extremely organised, but the list goes on. In no particular order… it’s important to be able to play some salsa, some walking bass lines, rock, funk, pop, RnB, jazz, classical, slap or with a pick, be able to read dots, chord charts and be comfortable playing in odd time signatures. Being able to offer backing vocals, piano and synth bass helps too. Generally you will have great arrangers who understand your instrument and write great bass parts, but you need to have great musical instincts too. When seeing a piece of music for the first time you need to make judgement calls when deciding what to play and what not to play. Just because there are dots on a page it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t still use your ears! I caught up with three very important staff members from the West End production of Murder Ballad; the Musical Director, Front of House Engineer and the leading lady! We discuss the skills you might need for the gig, how to listen while reading the dots, the importance of choosing your creative moments wisely, how to build a rapport with other crew members and lots more.