July 29, 2006

Amazing Summer for Jersey Boys’ Substitute Musical Director

July 29th, 2006

Peter D. Kramer of The Journal News has a feature story on Charles Czarnecki, and his hectic summer that’s “just too good to be true.” In addition to being musical director for Anything Goes opening next Friday, the 34th production of Clarkstown Summer Theatre Festival in West Nyack, he’s also musical director for the Helen Hayes Youth Theater Summer Stock program. And, from Aug. 26 to Sept. 17, he’ll cover for the musical director on Jersey Boys on Broadway, conducting this year’s Tony-winning best musical.

Teenagers and Broadway actors, Cole Porter and Frankie Valli, Rockland County and the Theater District. It’s all in a summer’s work for the Buffalo native who is now a Jersey boy himself. His recent luck on Broadway began when a friend, Trent Armand Kendall, needed an accompanist for an audition for the Broadway-bound revival of The Wiz, about to start previews at La Jolla Playhouse. Waiting to go into the audition, Czarnecki struck up a conversation with Stephen Oremus, musical director for Wicked.

When Kendall was called in, he did well — “he tore it up,” Czarnecki says — but so did the pianist, playing despite his sheet music falling to the floor and drawing the attention of Ron Melrose, the music director of The Wiz and Jersey Boys. Within 20 minutes, Czarnecki had swapped business cards with two of the most influential music makers on Broadway. Now, he’s getting jobs from an audition at which he wasn’t even auditioning.

Czarnecki is one of three substitute music directors of Jersey Boys, and he’s on the team of Jersey Boys International, the company that’s preparing the American tour of the Four Seasons’ musical and, perhaps, productions in London and Las Vegas.

Melrose is leaving his conducting duties for the next couple of months to shepherd The Wiz in La Jolla, ensuring more baton time for Czarnecki. He’s conducted about a half-dozen performances so far and he’ll soon step in for a 27-show stretch.

Czarnecki says Jersey Boys is a grueling show, he says, and the conductor is responsible for plenty. He notes,

“I have a stage manager, and a sound designer and an orchestra and a cast all waiting for me.”

Conducting Porter one night and The Four Seasons the next, with Rodgers and Hart in the mornings, just comes with the territory, according to Czarnecki. He says,

“I’m a professional. This is what I do for a living.”

1 Comment »

  1. Charles Czarnecki directed the Saturday July 29 matinee.

    Comment by Frank — July 30, 2006 @ 9:52 am

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