In Part 3 of ‘Catch This! McLean High School’s’ Catch Me If You Can Interviews, meet Musical Director Walter (Bobby) McCoy.
How long have you worked at MHS and where did you get your musical training?
I have been working with the McLean HS Theatre Company for a little over a year. My previous shows with them have been: Annie, The Last Five Years, Rent, and this summer I will be working on Seussical with them. I graduated from George C. Marshall HS (2012) in Falls Church, VA and worked on all the musicals there, including Company, Chicago, and Legally Blonde.
I began formal piano lessons when I was 12 and when I was 15 started gigging professionally. Shortly after, I started getting calls to play and accompany for all different types of events. Among the theaters I’ve worked at are: 1st Stage, The Keegan Theatre, McLean Community Players, and The Little Theatre of Alexandria. I describe myself as a jack–of–all–trades, anything from playing auditions to conducting full musicals. I am currently Music Directing Bat Boy at 1st Stage in Tyson’s Corner.
What are the styles of music that the audience will hear in Marc Shaiman and Scott Whitman’s score?
The audience can look forward to hearing many different genres throughout the show such as: Swing, Shuffle, Ballads, Groovy Funk, a little more swing, and a cool Bossa Nova tune, although my favorite numbers in the show seem to be the more rock influenced songs. The score is eerily similar to the Shaiman and Whitman hit musical Hairspray, which I fell in love with completely when I worked on the production with LTA.
What are some of the musical challenges for the orchestra when they have been learning and practicing the score?
The biggest challenge my orchestra and I are facing are the rhythms and locking in solid tempos. There are many different genres and tempo changes in some songs that it makes this show a challenge for me to conduct from a keyboard and keep the cast in sync. Unlike previous shows that I’ve done at McLean, the cast will not be able to see me most of the time which can be very tricky when having to cue the orchestra and the singers. I have a great group of fine musicians which I have worked with on many occasions and trust that it will be tight!
Which songs are the hardest to perform?
The two hardest songs to perform would be “Jet Set” and “Don’t Break the Rules.” “Jet Set” has some of the most difficult 5-part harmonies that I have heard. They are called “cluster chords” with many different colors within the chord. By the end of the number the singers split into seven-part harmony that sounds really awesome.
“Don’t Break the Rules” reminds of the Gene Krupa tune “Sing, Sing, Sing.”. This number doesn’t stop moving from the moment it gets started to the very end. The orchestrations for this numbers are very syncopated and are all very different. The walking bass line never stops moving and the drums drive the rhythm all through the song. All my musicians, including myself, have our work cut out in “Don’t Break the Rules,” but have a blast playing through the number.
Which song is your favorite?
“(Our) Family Tree” is my favorite number in the show. It has a heavy New Orleans jazz feel that I love so much. It falls under the Dixieland jazz genre. The number has so much energy that it is just a real treat to play, and I love listening to my excellent trumpet players improvise.
How many musicians will be performing in the pit and what instruments will they be playing?
There will be a total of 13 musicians performing in the band with me; one of whom is a student musician. I have three reed players, and between them they cover: Alto Flute, Alto Saxophone, Flute, Clarinet, Soprano Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone, Baritone Saxophone, Oboe, and Bass Clarinet. I have two Trumpet players-one Trombonist, three Keyboardist including myself, and a full rhythm section.
How long will rehearsals last?
I like to have 3 band rehearsals and then bring in the cast for a Sitzprobe. Then the band will be with me for tech week. But, the cast and I will be running rehearsals until we open the show on April 24th. We always continue to fine tune and make improvements after each performance.
What do you want the audience to take with them after hearing your orchestra and singers perform the score from Catch Me if You Can?
I want the audience to leave the show tapping their toes, and humming a tune. With so many wonderful elements to this show, I look forward to conducting this high energy musical. There are few musicals that really hit home musically for me in terms of versatility of style-but Marc Shaiman really does it justice. See you at the show!
Catch This! McLean High School’s ‘Catch Me If You Can’ Interviews-Part 1: Director Amy Poe.
Catch This! McLean High School’s ‘Catch Me If You Can’ Interviews-Part 2: Alex Stone, Jack Posey, and Lily Lord.