This week I’ve been catching up with Nick Anderson, a 17-year-old Plymouth-based drummer who’s already making a living playing on shows such as Annie and Rent. As panto season approaches, Nick is working on a production of Snow White. Here’s what he had to say about the best (and worst!) panto audiences, his favourite pantomimes and what it’s like to be a drummer during panto season.
What are the highlights of drumming on a panto?
There are many highlights that make pantomime such a great season to play in an orchestra for. Each performance is different – all the gags go their own way, and depending on what audience you have they end up being different. Another is being part of something that only happens once a year, and it’s something that all the mums, dads, kids, grannies, grandads, aunties and uncles can enjoy. There will always be something for everyone in the audience, and at the end of a performance this is very rewarding. It is also nice when you get the odd audience members coming up to the pit and shouting down and thanking all the musicians!
What about the nightmares?
The nightmares… when you have a quiet audience that don’t boo, hiss and all that jazz!
Who picked the songs for Snow White?
The musical numbers have been chosen between our creative team, which consists of the Director, Producer and Musical Director. Most of the songs have been arranged to suit the show and singers. We have 54 pieces in the pantomime, including entrances/exits/playouts and the actual songs.
What’s your favourite song in the panto you’re working on?
I quite like ‘The Circle of Life’ for this one. Nice upbeat tempo number, with some good percussion parts in between the beats.
Is all the music live?
All of our music is live, with the exception of one dance sequence which is click track. As the drummer I use a pad of eight programmed percussion effects which is linked up to the front of house sound system, and I use headphones so I can hear myself and the click track.
What’s your favourite panto? Why?
My favourite panto has to got to be Cinderella. It is the greatest pantomime of them all (as they say) – it’s just one of those perfect pantos with a great storyline and can be a stunning production. I will actually be on drums for Cinderella for two weeks in the 2012 panto season!
Drumming on a panto has its ups and downs, cheers and boos, not to mention the cheesy songs – but a panto is always great fun for everyone. Next time, I’ll be finding out more about the challenges of panto season by talking to Music Director Dean Austin, who is currently directing Dick Whittington starring Jonathan Wilkes at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre.
Image by Robert Müller.