Recent History – 2001
June 29, 2001
By Mark Nielsen, Daily News Staff
It’s a drama. It’s a comedy. It’s even something of a spectacle.
But above all, Annie is a musical.
So when director Jennifer Gorton is asked about the value of the show’s musical director, Dawn Taylor, her appreciation knows no limits.
“She’s a lifeline in the show,” Gorton said. “She’s done so much work and she’s made them all sound awesome.
“It’s a really, really hard score and I didn’t realize that when I chose Annie, but she’s done such an amazing job.”
Taylor, a teacher at Ecole Frank Ross, who moved to Dawson Creek in August after teaching for eight years in Ontario, has been working with the cast for the last two months.
With her help they’ve learned to sing such tunes as It’s a Hard Knock Life, Maybe, Hooverville, and the signature song Tomorrow. They’ll have also learned their melodies and harmonies from someone who possesses a strong belief in the power of music.
“Song can convey so much emotional content, more than dialogue can any day of the week,” Taylor said when asked about the importance of music. “Music can really, really make an emotional impact on the audience.”
Providing the music for Annie came with its own set of challenges. For one thing, thanks to the Kiwanis Community Band’s trip to Europe, there’s been a shortage of musicians in the city.
It’s meant that Taylor has had to turn to technology to fill the void.
“Basically I had to rethink the whole orchestra and I sort of came to the decision very early on, that I was going to be dealing with a synthesized orchestra,” she said.
Taylor is not alone. While she plays the digital piano, Liz Hastie is on the synthesizer and Don Hall is on the drums. (Blessed with a velvety voice, Hall also does the radio voice-ins as well.)
There was also the matter of getting the singers in key as well. The effort varied with the person
“Some people have some musical training perhaps or they have a natural good ear, and they picked it up in a snap. Other people, it was difficult for them to get the song in their ear,” she said.
There was also an added challenge for Shawnese Trottier and Mallory Grant who sing Andrews Sisters-like harmonics in a scene that involves a radio studio.
“I know the girls have had some measure of struggle with that because it’s really hard singing Ñ that’s the hardest singing in the show,” Taylor said.
But on the evening before the opening night, Taylor was confident that all the musical ducks were in a row.
“It’s always so much fun when people in the community get together and put something on like this,” she said, adding that she enjoying life in Dawson Creek.
“There’s a big arts presence here, which I am really enjoying a lot. There is so much going on.”