Behind The Scenes With LALO-Making Music Come Alive

A recent rehearsal at the United Church.Courtesy / Elisa Enriquez

With Amstats and Scott Johnson, who plays “Mr.”, during a recent Matilda rehearsal scene. Wormwood ”.Courtesy / Elisa Enriquez

Amstutz (left) and Holly Robinson as “Mrs. Matilda” and Wormwood during a recent Matilda rehearsal scene.Courtesy / Elisa Enriquez

Eliza Enriquez

What is a musical without a music director? When it comes to music production, it would be impossible without the time and talent of musicians, especially a dedicated music director.

This week, we asked Gretchen Amstadts, Musical Director of Los Alamos Light Opera’s current production of Matilda, the Musical, a few questions.

For those who may not be familiar with the local musical theater community, Amstutz is Los Alamos’ beloved musical director with 23 shows over 30 years. “Matilda, the Musical” is her 13th show with LALO.

Amstutz was LALO’s choir director for ‘The Mikado’ in 1991 and music director for ‘Carousel’ in 1993. At Los Alamos Light Her Opera (LALO) she was musical director 13 times and at Los Alamos she was musical director of 10 shows. Little Theater (LALT).

Prior to Music Director, she began her association with LALT in 1987 as a member of the band on the LALT-produced Little Shop of Horrors. She was LALT’s music director for the first time with “The Taffetas” produced in 1994.

Gretchen Amstutz

We interviewed Gretchen about her passion and dedication to making music.

What prompted you to dedicate so much time and energy to your local musical theater production?

Gretchen: My degree is in Music and Musical Theater which gives me the opportunity to utilize my training in the local community. I love all aspects of musical theater: music, acting, dancing, creative scenery, costumes and lighting. Each performance is different. The time it takes to prepare for a show is like a side job for most people. There are a lot of people who are musicians and others who aren’t, and it’s exciting and fulfilling to be able to bring people together and create something great from what started with just an idea.

Other than “The Musical Matilda,” what is your favorite musical you’ve ever produced as music director?

Gretchen: My two favorite shows at Light Opera are ‘Secret Garden’ and ‘Into the Woods’. Very fun and challenging!

What are the must-haves during a busy production such as Matilda, The Musical?

Gretchen: It would not have been possible without the dedication of everyone involved. People want their best – they want their production to be the best and they work hard to make it happen. I am in awe of. Working with soloists, ensembles and orchestras to teach harmonies and part balance is really rewarding. And people! People are the reason I remain a part of the musical theater community. What a pleasure to work with the wonderful people we met during the production.

Any other thoughts you’d like to share?

Gretchen: Theater is an amazing process when you think about it. It’s an all-needed part of not only rehearsals, but production and performance as well. It’s a collaborative effort. If you are a music director traveling by car, you can be the driver, you can be the passenger, you can be the wheel. We hope that each night’s journey is inspiring, that the cast is proud, and that the viewers get back on their feet. That’s what we aim for.

Los Alamos Light Opera, “Matilda, The Musical” at the Duane Smith Auditorium on Friday and Saturday, February 3, 4, 10, and 11 at 7:30 PM and Sunday, February 5 at 2 PM Invite the community to watchticket is Matilda tickets at Eventbrite, Village Arts is located at 216 DP Road, right on your doorstep.

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