Reply To: Pit orchestras
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Based on my experience, depending on the show, a simplification of the different parts can be done, so long as the tonal and stylistic nature of the line isn’t compromised. If you can’t afford or do not want to hire a professional for a part, and a line is entirely unattainable by a student, sometimes it can be covered by the pianist to some success. I have seen some really exposed parts in the show, Jekyll and Hyde covered by the keyboards and it sounded great. Making this work may require some ingenuity, but it is worth it to keep as many students involved as possible, especially when there are only a few sections in a part that a student is unable to play.
Avoid synth strings, but if you don’t have any string players at your disposal, and you can’t afford to hire, I say to go for it. It still beats some places that still use tapes for their orchestras, and that synth chair can be taken by a student.