Thank you for the music

RUHS students played music live in the pit orchestra for the spring musical “Mamma Mia!”



They’re not the stars of the show, but without them, the show would lose its lively and iconic soundtrack. Although hidden from the audience’s view, the group of musicians who formed the pit orchestra in the RUHS theater department’s recent production of “Mamma Mia!” played a vital part in the show by playing the soundtrack live. The orchestra worked together with the cast and crew to play the songs in the show, all of which are by ABBA, a pop band from the ‘70s.

The pit orchestra for “Mamma Mia!” consisted of one conductor and 11 musicians: four keyboard players, two guitarists, two bassists, two percussionists and one drummer. The 12 students involved in the orchestra all put in roughly two hours of rehearsal time every Tuesday and Thursday on top of the time they took to practice the pieces at home. Junior Caitlyn Hasebrook was one of the two bass guitarists in the orchestra.

“I think everyone was practicing the songs all the time when they were at home,” Hasebrook said. “Personally, even when we didn’t have rehearsal, I was coming home and practicing for at least an hour or two. I don’t know if that was the same for everyone else because I was a little less experienced than the others, but I definitely know everyone worked really hard to [learn the songs].”

Rehearsals for the pit orchestra began shortly after the end of winter break, in early January. According to Hasebrook, members would mostly practice the pieces at home, while rehearsals were where the group could review how the different parts came together and fix minor details.

For Hasebrook, this was her first time joining the pit orchestra and it served as her way of helping out with the show in the best way she knew how. 

“I knew I really wanted to get involved in the production, but I’m not exactly solid on my singing skills,” Hasebrook said. “Still, I definitely wanted to get involved somehow. When I heard that I could play a bunch of ABBA music and have fun with a group, I definitely jumped at the opportunity to do so.”

Another member of the orchestra, senior Dasha Shevchenko, one of the keyboard players, also joined the pit orchestra for the first time for “Mamma Mia!” 

“I was extremely nervous on opening night,” Shevchenko said. “After that, though, it started to feel like regular rehearsals because we can’t see anyone when we’re in the pit, we can only hear them. It’s the same feeling as if we were rehearsing in there with nobody in the audience. So, the first show was really nerve-wracking, but after that, it was smooth sailing.”

Both musicians greatly enjoyed the time they spent being a part of the pit orchestra. For Hasebrook, “knowing that all our work was going to go into such an amazing show and that all this work would pay off in the end” made the commitment she put into learning the songs worth it. 

“The experience of meeting new people [was the best part of being in the orchestra] because I made so many new friends,” Shevchenko said. “Music is something that is really important in my life, so meeting new people through it and enjoying myself while playing really made this whole experience one of the best ones I’ve had in high school.”