This past Friday, I went to see the musical/theatrical performance of Tres Vidas in the DeWitt theatre. It was a good refresher of how much live music can add to an artistic piece.
Over the summer, I was lucky enough to work for Hope Summer Repertory Theatre. This allowed me to spend a lot of my time in the room with extremely talented musicians and actors doing their best work, while elevating each other as they performed.
Tres Vidas was the first time I had been back in that theatre since seeing musical juggernauts like Godspell and The Wiz. And it was quite funny to compare the two experiences visually, as Tres Vidas had the most minimalist set: a chair and a table. And the musical instruments were sort of strewn around the stage without much order. But as I watched this single performer as she inhabited the lives of three notable Latin American women, I realized that these two different types of performances had a very important thing in common- good live music supporting the actor.
It may seem obvious, but I have seen many theatrical performances with music that is either pre-recorded or performed by amateurs. There is a night and day difference when the musicians that support the actors have some chops.
The musicians that performed in Tres Vidas (Ju Young Lee: cello, Mikael Darmanie: piano, Michael Parola: percussion), have clearly been doing these types of performances for a long time. They provided so much depth to the performance. Honestly, I believe that they made the performance worth it. If it was just the actress, I would have had trouble engaging with the material. But like in a movie, the musicians created so much power with their musical skills and brought the story to new heights.
More information can be found about the Core Ensemble at their website: http://www.coreensemble.com/