56 - SIX The Musical: Kristy Norter, Music Coordinator
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This episode is part of our series on six the musical in this series we uncovered the process behind the musical through our central question. What role does history play in the storytelling of six a show that uses the history mix as a device. We hope you enjoyed this episode. Hi my name is christie nortre. I am the music coordinator for six. I'm also would win player on musician. Tina turner musical in the saxophone player on and really excited to be here talk together at six and smaller stuff l. com of hinted that before we hit record. But i'm very always very excited when we discuss a new role in the industry on the podcast and we have not yet had a music coordinator on so we've had a few other roles from music department but never so. I know we have a ton of questions for you about before researching this this role before we were talking with your this job. I didn't really understand what the what the role was. What the responsibilities for Until i was looking on maestros website And i'm wondering if you could give us like the basic functions or maybe dislike the basic data day of what you do as the coordinator and don't worry. Obviously there's like we'll go way more in depth as we continue talking. But just i guess to lay the foundation if you will. That's a very interesting job varies throughout the production. The beginning what they call a pre-production you're hired by the production company. So you're hired by the producers. You work for the producers but you are the liaison between the american federation music or are union and our local union which is able to with the producers. I advise them on the contract and the rules and sometimes it stuff that's tedious lake You know you their rules about how often you can have rehearsal the minimum call for rehearsal. How the kind of warnings that not warnings but if you change the schedule like it has to be within a certain period of time. So i'm there to protect the rules to protect musicians and also to protect the producers from inadvertently doing something you know i also setup payroll and again that can be very tricky at the beginning of the show when you're adding rehearsals here and they're filming b roll doing all kinds of stuff and then once the show is pretty much. I've been running. I'm running payroll and dealing with any small problems personnel problems or like the exciting stuff. Like let's say six we're gonna be on a tv show coming up like that. Might be part of my job. To hint. hint nudge nudge. But i would do on the union paperwork. Our liaison with whatever tv show that was and where the union contracts in regards to television videotape and properly have the band paid and get what they need and one thing that i will say you know at being a union member for like twenty five years. Is that now. That i'm dealing more with contracts I think a lot of people. Think the unionist so that People get paid and and that working conditions are good. But i feel especially in musician. Union is about protection of the actual work protection of the job. Meaning you hire me to play on one song and you pay me you like. This song is going to be on a podcast. And i'm like okay. You pay me appropriate rate. If it's not on the union contract you could take that song and all the sudden it's in a marvel movie and you only paid me a hundred dollars for it and it's in a blockbuster movie i have no protection whatsoever. So the union is kind of the you know it can be tedious. But all of the paperwork goes in to make sure that musicians paid fairly for the originally use of their work and if it gets reused in different ways You know like for example the commercial that is currently running. We're using stuff from the show but it's a new use of from shows of the musicians will get paid for other so interesting. A lot of what you're saying reminds me of. Maybe what stage manager does to protect the actors in a way. The end deals with liaison between the the Company in union. And the rules. So how did you get involved with six on. It was kind of interesting. So i've always been. I've been a musician on broadway for like twenty years and as the industry was starting to change a little bit. You know that it's a very small group of people that Are music coordinator trump broadway and it was pretty much mostly men and white men and so as we were talking more about diversity on. I had a discussion with georgia state. Who's the founder of my music. I said in a conversation. I was like i. You know i. I wish that i could contract like this is something that i think speaks to. My skill sets a come from a family of accountants. So i already have an affinity for spreadsheets and designing excel sheets. A math nerd. I love contracts in love details of numbers in addition to loving music and being a part of the and so i said to george plus. I've been in the pits. I know these musicians. I know what it's like to be there in. I just want a chance at this job. But i don't think that's something that's available to me or most other people at such a close knit thing. And she was like well then. Just be a contractor. And i was like. You can't just be a contractor like crude. I'm a movie star like you. Just call it it. Subtly calling your shot. And she was like well. We'll work on it. So you know she made a couple inquiries and i stood a few offering ratios and then out of the blue. I got this email in. It was basically the production company. I for sex and they were like we're looking for music coordinator An obviously the nature of six it looked good to have a female music coordinator and that was important to them. You know and so. They reached out to georgia state because they wanted her to do it because toby lucy new georgia. She's like our contractor. This is who you want. And so literally georgia just handed me the which was very sweet and i'm so appreciative. And and she's amazing. I can't speak enough about. How awesome music is there you know. I'm really fortunate to be a part of it. They let me teach some classes. And i i enjoy it. So and it's directly led to me getting you know noticed in the industry and being able to you know row in the skill and learn. Yeah i mean especially like nowadays. I mean i feel like obviously everything's online but now like connections can be made online on. Yeah do you recommend anyone who might be interested or eight in any part of the music department. That could be a part of a show. Do recommend that like meister might be a good way for networking. Are there other ways that you think might. Obviously everyone's path is totally different. So it's hard to exactly what is recommended. But you just think like networking is the best way to get your foot in the door. It is and i think that the more that people hear your name in any industry the better off you are. I also think it might be slightly generational thing. Because i feel like people in their twenties currently likes you guys grew up with social media you grew up with you know the online profile and so it tends to come a little easier and sometimes a little too easy that everything in life is put on social media. And i'm a little older couple years older than you and You know so for me. My mentors were all you know. Keep your keep your nose down. Do a good job. Don't don't to your own horn in an you'll progress in this industry so there really is a fine line between like throwing name out there in being earnest and like i'm trying to make connections versus you know kinda gone crazy off the rails when people you know being a low much with people so yes to answer your question in a roundabout way meisters. Great group it's designed. The directory itself came out of georgia state in mary. Mitchell campbell is fabulous empty an awesome person in being on so she and georgia were working on a an off broadway version of sweet charity. That started sutton foster. And they wanted an all female band and zeh because bam's would be visible and that was lee silverman's vision like everything is so they were like you know mary. Mitchell was supervising. And i think georgia was emptying and they were like you know they call me there. Can you percents when i was like. I'm starting bronx tale on broadway. I can't and then it was like Will that was the sax player we knew. And then you know and then they realized that there might be one or two women that they knew for every chair but there's a pipeline issue someone also recognition issue in so georgia That's where my strength in the directory came from was that that's the origin story that and they were. You know georgia has said this allowed. I'm tired of hearing people say. Well i don't know anyone will. Then you can go look here like you want a female violent player okay. Then go look violin in directory. And then their they're sister or brother. Group sibling group is news which is on musicians. United for social equity And that's directory for people of color in same thing like if you're like we need to not just have a band full of white people you know. That's a really good starting place when you're hiring for musical theater to find people in in for my shirt and from us it's not just the instruments they will list like. I'm a copy as an arranger on. Md i do this or do that. So you really could fill a music team With those kinds of jobs as well. It's not just like i played trombone jenner but it gives people more options. And especially you know. It's it's an interesting time on broadway. Because for me there is much to be gained from paying your dues but at the same time many of us who have been paying dues over the years don't necessarily get the same shot that others have been given so there's like that fine line of providing access to people which is really amazing thing but i'm also a firm believer provide access to training and apprentice thing mentorship and let people earn their strikes so for me. It's about early intervention Access and that's really dedicated to and i also just to add on that is like with the access and the the apprentice you know ideas that people who go on and who are successful in their role should always are i. I believe at least should always think back to the coup. Can i bring onto my team. Who can i help in. Extended the arm to 'cause then cycle where everyone's helping each other within the community and that's how you bring people up and bring people in but then still maintain that Creative license if you will in your bio christie. You mentioned that you're the only female music coordinator working on broadway is that currently or just. That was current. Yup honor has been other females before you ready. There are two other fabulous female coordinators. One is talith affair. Hr in she is She mostly deals with tours so basically. She's the contractor troy on a bunch of other like tours and a show that she was contracting came in for a limited run but the first person who has straight up Music coordinator credits. As a woman would be kim wirtz and that show was a year with frog toad. But the thing about kim is that she's been doing this behind the scenes for years. You've seen her were constantly. Is rate the tony awards. She contracts that. The kennedy center honors. She contracts that so she's and she also works a lot with red press who was a legendary music coordinator in our field and so to me. She's really she's the first. She's high-near When we're talking about music theater for music. Coordinating fabulous. She's great and just to clarify also so does every production guetta music coordinator or are there certain productions that may not call for one in the even dialing in a little more specifically. I'm guessing most musical slash all musicals and then maybe plays that have live Live musicians yes so the contract the contract's kind of weird you in it. Some of it has to do with that. This contract was written. You know seventy five years ago. I forgot. I don't even know when the first broadway continental something. I'll look up later the first broadway. Cba there's language in it talks about The inside contractor like which we call the in house contractor which is a person who is in the band and they're the ones that run the day to day. They make sure that the subs were there. They make sure the regulars are there on time. They keep track of subs in do the basic payroll and then kick it up to the music coordinator music coordinator job kind of i think was out of necessity that somebody needed to keep track of all of these things But it's really funny because if you ask producer sometimes a coordinator dozen like i dunno. I just need one and so this is. It's been kind of a funny situation but yeah there are a few shows that don't have an outside coordinator but then if fault it has to fall on some money and then with plays. I think that you know that was something recently. pianist on stage but it was clay and that atoms accordion. The actor themselves were playing allah. Like bandstand of course. They had a musical something. Where it's a play with music ret you also have music coordinator. It's funny because i originated bandstand when it was a paper mill. And i couldn't do it on broadway. 'cause i was doing bronx tale but on i was in the pit not on obviously not on the stage But if you get depending on the different rules you get into equity. If they're playing on stage they have to be members of eight of our union as well and so they kind of get paid like a variation of olson extra rules and on the actor. If they're playing piano they have to be a member of your union. Zehra musician onstage thing. Yeah oh. I'm curious how you how this role integrates with the other roles in the music department like music director ranger that those kinds supervisor even especially because the producers hired you yarn that director or the creative team as a whole yes but it. Many times The supervisor or the md or sometimes the composer Will requests the coordinator that they are comfortable working with on and so you know there might be a coordinator who always does so and so's shows like some you know like what's you know sondheim like i i'll do all sondheim shows like whatever and so some of that is you know but but also there are some producer like y. Prefer to work with this person So it's it is who you know again with the networking and You know six took a chance on me. Which i'm very very appreciative than in. I also find it really like my very first chair on broadway. That was my chair was. My show was in the heights. And that was a kevin mccullough song her show as producer and then for six to be my first broadway credit as music coordinator like to me in. It's also a kevin mccollum show like it felt right. It sort of felt like it was somebody you know for me like those kinds of experiences are really important and i'm very nostalgic person. I'm very appreciative in so it just seemed kind of poetic that it was kevin shows you know. Yeah and he's he's amazing. It's business He's he's just a very obviously He's he's had a couple of shows that did okay and very however apropos that he was our first guest for the series of you so much fun to. He's a is a really great speed. So i saw i know also you said earlier when you're introducing yourself at you. Play sax for fourteen over at tina. Is it so it is possible to be a contractor for one show but not necessarily play for those yeah as the music coordinator you can Read press for years. He was a music coordinator the inhouse contractor and the read one player on chicago for years. So it's possible very yes and was contracting. Because i can contract as many shows as i'm offered or want to do you're not limited to coordinating on one. So how does that work from a time management. I'll let you know in a couple months right. Because i've been right when you guys started previews you. What does that look like. When they went into tech and then once they went into performances themselves six Speaking on the best part of sixes location is that there is a back cross between the hotel so if you come out. Tina turner stage intern right. Edison hotel i think has a walk through and then you turn left coming off you basically cut through a hotel lobby and come out on the left so i i can get from one theater to the next in about three minutes which was helpful during that time As i'm learning how to do things. I'm trying not to overbook myself. As a musician i try to do is many gates is possible uncle running from gig to gig but this i tried to be patient and not worry about taking off from tina now and again you know. It's not worth a little extra money to play the show. What's more important is that i focus and really learn how to do this job. The right way but there are times has we. I'd i play a lot during tina turner but there are definitely some like ten minute periods. Where we don't where horns. Don't do anything. And i've gotten really good at multitasking. A definitely had an emergency at an off broadway show is contracting while i was you know in one of those breaks in basically got like the base chair covered while it was like in the pit for teen which was kind of fun but yeah you have to learn how to keep a bunch of plates spinning and that it is really important. Time management is something. I don't. I know how i used to do it. And now that we've been gone for a year and a half it's like i'm brushing off the cobwebs right now but it's okay Happy to do it. Happy to have the work. Yeah it's it it can be an but again it depends on how things line up so you know in the spring. I have a couple of things. And of course they lined up Zim time so that might be a very stressful period. Up through previews through opening and then once opening is over like okay. I think everything's cool. I just gotta make sure payrolls. Okay you know in deal with any obser- after the show has opened you're just maintaining the payroll. You no longer have to go in zoo either. Physically it can be done remotely can all be done remotely but i also believe in being present in. Yeah and because it's not just you know i interact a lot with production stage manager Like we we liaison the sound team. guys the crew props ideal with if there's an issue like six thera- playing instruments special instruments like painted or made for the show you know they're not playing their own instruments which is unusual but then that becomes property of cedar and that therefore it falls under local ones the prop guys his. It's considered a crop and so you know like even silly things like oh here's a great example of six utilizes Confetti at the end of the show. There's been confetti drop in its broadway. So they're like we wanna bait convince trump you know. We have keyboard on stage and we have a keyboard programmer who is also the person who is responsible for giving us our equipment in either purchasing it or renting it and depending on the show and he was like He's he's a friend of mine his name is randy. Cohen is actually pretty. He programs everything. These kind of an interesting person you guys might wanna talk doctrine point He would right off. The bat was like. I don't like where this is headed with the keyboard. I was like what because that's his job. You know unlike concetti. That sounds awesome. He's like that. Sounds like a nightmare. Because it's going to get down in the keys and it's gonna break the keyboard and so we're going to have to swap out. The keyboards in so like part of his headache was then figuring out a budget. How often do they have to take the keyboard into the shop. What will that cost so because of confetti which is the funniest thing to me but these are the kinds of details that you could never a million years predict or be like. What do you do for a living. I prevent confetti from messing keyboard. It's like if that role didn't exist like who would have known to have like thought of that pre to prevent it you know to not to prevent because obviously you can't prevent it but she'll were to hopefully make sure that there aren't any new ing nor options that yeah i think the job also it evolves on every shows different and i think one of the best skills is to be A problem solver. So you know if you walk in and in the stage manager comes running up to you and it's like we have this huge issue because in your like Like i can't even think of a good example right now but you know like we need the dressing room because we have you know we have a dog in the show now or something and you're like okay So rather than be like you know so it's like well that's what the show's needs so let's figure out a way to do it in. That's you know the challenge in the fun and sometimes the stress of okay. Let's just make it happen. You know we'll figure out what is something that you intimidated. Or what is something that you may have wanted from yourself as music coordinator having been having been in the pit before you know what is something that you look for music coordinator that you wanted to employ as music coordinator. That's a great question to me. Music is very important so musical skill is very important but another thing that i strongly believe in his is doing good working professional And holding our behaviors and not to higher standard. And so you know. I was am usually still like one of the only woman in the pit and one of the women read section. So i although i have a tough skin Certain point i started realizing like i need to step up and say to people like now and not because i don't want to hear you say something like that but because the twenty year old who wants to be like me someday i'm setting her up for failure by not addressing these problems just going along with it and it's a different world right now so one of the things that i really wanted for myself is to never have any musician feel way that i have felt sometimes in pits an but that doesn't say like i've thought my whole career like there have been moments. You know But i for me. I really wanted to make sure that everyone can go to work. Dewick jump respect each other and move on best friends but you also you know you to treat everyone. Well you know. I to hold myself to the same. We all make mistakes and they also need to leave room for mistakes but now we can try to make it matter. We can try to make people feel more welcome And hopefully we can continue to do that but as again as i said before. I'm still only to pay dues. People need to do the hard work. But i you know that access for me is really important in that. I'm willing to take time and help somebody trains. Somebody mentor somebody you know. Jump on the phone I'm part of news. Has a mentoring program right now. Some part amuses mentoring program. There's a woodwind wtrw. Are we talking today. Because he wanted my advice on something. He's a great guy. We met a few weeks ago. And we just talked you know. He's like on on tour with a show and he you know he's doing all the right things he just needs a little help and advice and you know what. I'm happy to do it. Because that's how we grow as musicians we've apprenticed. I mean even even somebody like mozart the apprentice. They learned the business from someone who had done it before and showed them the way as what we do and so when we get away from that kind of destroying the lineage of our of our tradition. So i'm wondering how is six different from any of the other projects that you've worked on a as music coordinator while on it's the only broadway show so far although i have another coming up so i'm still very early in the scheme of things. I'm still very new at coordinating. So i've done a lot of one offs things some a lot of streaming things and some you know like garas and and a few off broadway shows and i'm currently working on another off broadway show that's also coming in march called. Suffrage is that is announced. The selfridge's chena tabs in musical injury. Sandy are on that for a while we did get sidetracked because i tend to lab. Sorry disaster stitch. She knows But one thing that i do in the production part of my job is look at talent and look at options. So when you're asking before how. I work with the other people if the supervisor you know whoever wants to be involved in okay. It's time to pick a ban. Some people are very hands off. They're like just getting van. We need seven people. These are the chairs the slum looking for you know make a list. That's fine some people are like. I want you to hire this person. This person this person. I don't know anyone for this chair and some people want to be collaborative process. So you know there's phone calls in. Google docs links bios in all kinds of stuff and generally in in the room with you. Or who's having this conversation with you is it really. Is it including the producer as well as everyone on the music department. The producer rarely gets involved with personnel. They would be the height like coordinator they would want a say in who the in house coordinator was on. They would probably want. Obviously they get to hire supervisors orchestrators all that but when it comes down to just the band unless there's someone that they have had a problem with productions or something like that i think they defer to the music team But that's definitely changed in industry. And i do know that You know that way back in the day Use accords could just be like. I'll get your band and they would. This is your band on nowadays music coordinators. They do exactly what they're asked to do in it's 'cause it brings or you know it gives more access and different access instead of he's guys. I was call my guys you know. So it's i get people seismic People that loyally hire me over the years. Like i understand what it'd be loyal to good workers but has a new person to break in how i mean especially since looking at six you know having been gotten Haven't gotten so far to the finish line if you will Before everything shut down. What are you doing now. Especially since all the announcements have been made. Hopefully that we're able to you know. Move forward with all those intended dates of course but what are what are you doing now. To prepare for the opening in a few weeks to months Yeah back and forth with the supervisor. Lot with the production stage manager and the end the general manager works under the producers I'm really lucky that john. Gendron and suzy brand on johnson gm and Releases associate jim. the fabulous Good to work for and they They also understand that. You know this is my first broadway show so they have been very cool you know. I'm also the kind of person that i i won't be asked like it. I don't know something. Or i don't know if i don't i'll just say hey giving it let me give me a day to figure it out but let me uncle talk to somebody. So they've been very patient and not. I'm probably being harder on myself. That i need to be but you know we'll be mistakes and it's fine. We all make mistakes but they were for in their fantastic room great. I think it's interesting. That company managers generate payroll for the actor. Then you're generating payroll for the musicians and then it goes. It goes to the house manager because and then it goes in the eye at that goes through the same thing musicians get paid by the theater owners so the payroll goes to the house manager so when i get a check for tina. It's the neater landers. Yeah it's not tina mary. I think it's time for our lightning round. Let's do it. Won't i know we're going to rename it. We're gonna rename the next series because we've been calling lightning round and we get that response england. We're not you. Mary want wanna kick us off. Yes What is one thing in the theater industry that confuses you tradition some traditions because like most rules things are. It's the history of it. you'll look in a contract. It'd be like well that's on. Why do they you know. Why is this in the contract and there's always a good story as to why well because it phantoms. Somebody so and so did this. And so now we have a rule for it. What are three adjectives that describe your ideal working environment fun professional respectful. I know we're not going to respond. But i will just say i'm pretty sure i'm like ninety five percent sure that everyone that we've talked to from six has included fun. I'll have to pull the audio clip. It is there something in your process that you find unique to you for hobbies. I am a do it yourself. You know like do home improvement projects. So i am sort of in my process. I joke around with friends that i'm the contracting contractor and i'm the only contracting contractor so i can redo your kitchen for you while hiring an running payroll and i believe on the only music coordinator who can do that. I'll stand by that. bring it on everybody else. Next question was what is one hobby that you have outside of the theater so that would be it and also my love of the buffalo bills which is more of a lifestyle. I think not a hobby. What is one job in the theater industry that you would trade jobs with for one week definitely crew carpenters or something you know. I'd love to have already made friends with the head carpenter at the tina show terry. He's great. Do you have any books or resources that you find helpful to you in your process I live with funny. Should say that. 'cause i haven't earmarked copy right now. Hot off the presses from six years ago this is the eight. Oh two collective bargaining agreement. This is literally the entire roadway contract between the league of producers disney and local tow to that is the bible. 'cause most of the answer there. Yeah it really is and i. I have it on my computer my ipad. I have it. You know paper copies. I have one in my locker i have one on. My desk is brenham around. It's fun little light reading little train. You know yeah there you go Okay cool our last question is what your favorite part of the development process of new show. I'm going to answer it as a player in answer it as a coordinator Everything's so as a player. Normally i get in the room when the score is completed like i'm not a composer and arranger people have been working on it in working on the story than working on writing songs and lyrics and putting together in that very first day after you know. Usually the band rehearses i for a few days. And then there's zits probe and that's the moment where her full orchestrations or played in these singers. Who have been rehearsing piano in. Everybody just goes. Oh wow 'cause it's just like you can feel it and you know that one moment where everyone's just shocked. I never knew could be this. You know and that too is amazing. I think as a coup cordinator. While i enjoy all those moments i feel like once band is like okay opening night so like we made it or good. We're gonna continue. Everything's great and things are working. We can just get down to business now through all the tough stuff means ing gonna link to Maestra on our on our show notes will include it on our social but other other other places that you wanna shut out that our listeners can find you on social I mean i have. I have my own a sham. Having to send you guys like my twitter facebook and calm. I ditch my face. Insta- whatever the kids have a seventeen year old daughter. She's like oh my god it's not funny. Don't like nobody facebook's unlike yeah we do. We do proudly even the twenty year olds. I don't even think. I had a my space. But it's okay. I truly think that like my age. I just turned twenty five. And i think that my age is like that last group that may still use face collapsed as we're holding out for facebook and some people are like on the fans knowing you can still use that. You sent me a message. Thank you so much for coming on. I absolutely loved hearing. You speak about a role that really. When i woke up this morning i knew nothing about ask head to ask my fiance. Go stand what is it music coordinator. Emily tell me the ones that you've worked with in the past like what they do. Yeah so. I'm really really happy that we got young. Talk about this. I'm so appreciative. Asking you if this man is rate. I'm very excited for for. come back. Obviously grief finale to our six series. Thanks everyone for listening to this episode of page two stage to keep up with us. You can find us on. Instagram and facebook. Page to stage podcast. If you enjoyed this conversation we have other episodes with eater makers from six the musical. Check them out until next time. That's brian that's mary. We'll see later in. Hello broadway fans. Get ready for the most anticipated theater. Podcast created with you in mind. What's up broadway presented by the broadway. Podcast network is a weekly talk series that features industry breaking news hottest interviews deep dive into theater twitter and fans hyun aid. I will be joined by brilliant. Rotating co hosts martine acuna and christian louis after over a year. A pause broadway is back. And that means what's up. Broadway will kick off on tuesday august tenth right here on the broadway podcast network or wherever you stream. Your podcast talk to you. Then you're listening to the broadway podcast network.