NEW YORK CITY – Mark Blackman, ArtsPower’s Founding Co-Director, performed in the pit orchestra of Broadway’s HELLO DOLLY on Saturday evening, November 11th. He played the Reed 1 book (piccolo, flute, alto saxophone, and clarinet) as a substitute for Steve Kenyon, the talented, multi-reeds performer and Broadway pit orchestra veteran.
“About a year ago, Steve asked if I would like to substitute for him at some point during the run of the show,” Mark explained. “Of course I jumped at the opportunity because I have always wanted to play in a Broadway pit, since I was a kid.”
Mark and his twin brother Gary, who co-founded ArtsPower, had seen 40 Broadway shows by the time they graduated high school, often requesting backstage tours after they saw performances.
“I would write to the stage manager and ask if Gary and I could go backstage and into the pit after a performance,” Mark said. “We had a genuine fascination with what it took to make every performance look and sound so magical and seamless.”
Mark’s experience playing in the orchestra of HELLO DOLLY was “exhilarating and terrifying.”
“Nothing can truly prepare you for the feeling of playing in the orchestra of one of Broadway’s most successful shows,” Mark noted. “I spent months and months preparing the music, which is pretty densely orchestrated, and felt very comfortable with my preparation. Being in that moment, when the curtain goes up and the orchestra starts playing, is an incredibly exhilarating experience.”
While Mark hopes to play in a Broadway show again, he stated that, “I can now check this off my bucket list and am so grateful to my friend Steve Kenyon who gave me this tremendous gift to live my dream to play on Broadway as well as start a consistent, daily practice routine that will continue for the rest of my life.”