(March 2016) Philip Dutton (Musical Director) speaks about his passion for music and involvement in Oliver!
When did you first become interested in music?
I started piano lessons at the age of 7 but only began to enjoy music when I started playing the cornet in a brass band at the age of 13.
What sort of music do you like?
I am fascinated by all types of music but my favourite is symphonic music of the romantic era. I keep trying opera but I prefer musical theatre where the actors stay completely in character whether they are singing, speaking or dancing.
We believe your instrument is the trumpet. When did you take that up and do you play any other instruments?
Yes, on moving to Holland, I changed to trumpet where I could play in symphony orchestras, harmonies and big bands as well as some solo work.
Who/what has inspired you?
I was very much inspired by a school music teacher who, disappointed at my decision to take only science A-levels, used his free time to coach me through A-level music .
Oliver! is a fantastic musical! How are the cast responding to the songs?
I expected the cast to have little or no problem with the songs because they were so well known and, other than “Who Will Buy?”, had no harmony at all. I was wrong on both counts. Oliver! is a British musical and only a small number of our cast grew up with those songs at home. The second problem arrived with the official piano/vocal score. We discovered that the show had been revised in 2008 with a completely new orchestration and up to 8 parts of harmony and counterpoint in some of the chorus numbers. Having said that, the new version is wonderful and the cast got to grips with it very quickly!
How do you prepare for a musical such as Oliver!?
First I create backing tracks for the choreographers to work with because original cast recordings are often different from the score we get. I then create “learning tracks” and vocal sheet music to help the singers learn their parts before coming to rehearsal.
What has been the biggest challenge for you and what has been the biggest delight so far?
The biggest challenge was the discovery that all the tracks I had made based on the 1960 score were wrong and that they all needed to be recreated. It has been a great delight to have Eric Gherardi as assistant MD. Not only because of his musical knowledge, help in preparing rehearsal tracks and assistance at rehearsals but also the idea that we have a new theatrical musical director waiting in the wings for when people like me hang up their batons.