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The Anatomy of a Musical

When he’s not assisting audience members with a ticket purchase, HVSF Box Office Manager Scotty Arnold is himself a composer and director for musicals and plays. Scotty stepped away from Will Call to help us break down the music end of rehearsing and opening our first-ever musical, INTO THE WOODS:


The Music Director (MD) teaches the music to the cast in rehearsals, which is often the first step in the rehearsal process for a musical. The MD continues to work with the actors in the weeks leading up to performances, not just to make sure they’re singing the right notes but to shape the sound and interpret the music with the actors. The MD often also accompanies these rehearsals on piano.

Band Rehearsals

These happen concurrently with acting rehearsals. While actors usually get a three to five week rehearsal process before Tech Rehearsal, the band will often have just two to five sessions to put the score together!


This is a German word that means “sit and sing.” In theater, it’s the first time the actors and the band get together to sing and play through the entire score. They don’t worry about scenes or staging, it’s just about listening to how the vocals and the instrumentals come together.

Band Seating

This is the moment the band arrives at the theater. The Sound team begins setting up mics and monitors (a type of speaker that allows the band members to hear each other and the singers) and balancing the volume of the instruments for the audience.


Another German word! This one means “wander and sing.” This is the first time the cast runs through the show, including blocking and choreography, with the band playing along.

Tech rehearsals

These are a few days of long rehearsals where lighting, sound, costumes, sets, and props are added into the mix. Usually this goes pretty slow, so the band isn’t called for the first couple of days, and rejoins the group once these new elements are mostly integrated.


These are public performances with full band and tech while rehearsal is continuing. This is an important time when the Artistic team gets to listen to the audience’s reaction, helping them to further shape the production. Ticket for Previews are often sold at a slight discount because the work is still settling, though the average theater-goer wouldn’t see the difference onstage. We have two Previews for INTO THE WOODS – August 1 and 2!

Opening Night

This is when the show freezes (stops rehearsing and changing) and enters its regular performance schedule. It’s quite a finish line for all involved, and there’s usually a celebration to go along with a job well done. Our Opening Night for INTO THE WOODS is on August 3, and includes a pre-show champagne toast for the whole audience.