“Under the stage,” where the Gibson Southern orchestra brings life to the musical

The mix of students, teachers and other musicians add music to the show

While theater-goers went “Under the Sea” with “Disney’s The Little Mermaid,” they were likely unaware of the work happening below the feet of the student performers. Gibson Souther put together an orchestra that practiced with the rest of the cast and crew of the show, as well putting in even more hours on their own and more in preparation for the 2022 Spring Musical. 

The orchestra was composed by students and staff from the school, as well a s musicians from the community, that are paid to be a part of the orchestra. Only two students performed in the orchestra: senior Megan Weaver who was Reed 2 and sophomore Katelyn Walker on Keyboard 2.

This year was Walker’s first year in the orchestra pit.

“It was a challenge, and I was nervous that I was going to mess up a lot,” Walker said. “I really had to keep up with some of the better musicians.”

Other than the two students, the orchestra consisted of 10 other musicians: John Spradley on Reed 1, Art Adye on Horn, Koby Durbin on Trumpet, Phil Minnis on Drums, Angela Cooper on Percussion, Rob Hutchinson as Keyboard 1 and Conductor, Joe Leugers on Keyboard 3, Rob Schnautz and Leslie Baumgart as Violin 1 and 2 respectively and Cris Miller on cello.

Some of the paid musicians are music teachers or college students. All of the musicians started practicing three weeks before the show by practicing with the cast of the play after school. In addition to that, the orchestra would often stay later to work on pieces they felt needed to be practiced.

“This is no joke; this is playing for two and a half hours,” Hutchinson said. “This isn’t just practicing three songs. If you don’t know how to read the music, then you’re up the creek.”

These extra practices led to some of the members feeling very confident in the orchestra’s ability to perform despite some parts of the orchestra not being able to show up to the practices until the Monday before the musical.

“I’m excited to get back into performing, especially in front of a live audience and to have a big show this weekend,” Cooper said.