September 2, 2010

Jersey Boys Orchestrator Steve Orich Talks About JB, Theater, and Finale

September 2nd, 2010

Steve Orich
Steve Orich

Scott Yoho of has a terrific interview with JERSEY BOYS orchestrator Steve Orich, who talks about his life in theater, JB, and using Finale (the music notation software package). Here’s a preview to the interview:

Steve Orich spent his formative years playing piano in the theater. From summer stock, to musical director of shows at Stony Brook University, to a national tour of Annie, an international tour of Godspell, to playing in the pits of Broadway shows. As most musicians must, Steve wore a wide variety of hats, but it was always music and always theater.

In college he began writing charts and over the years more and more opportunities arose where he’d be called upon to arrange and copy as well. He was able to hone his arranging skills by studying with Don Sebesky, where, for a wonderful example, each student would write a sax quintet, and Mel Lewis’ sax section would come in and play it live.

After years of playing eight performances a week for several shows on Broadway, Steve began to suspect he’d prefer to move away from performing. In 1985, he took an AFI seminar on film composing, and decided to move to L. A. In time, he became busy composing for sitcoms, documentaries, movies of the week, game shows, animation and more.

One day he got a call to orchestrate a little musical the La Jolla Playhouse was mounting. Even though it was on a small budget (in part because it would only run five weeks), Steve decided to “keep one finger in the theater” and do it.

The little musical told the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons’ rise to fame, and it eventually became Jersey Boys. Of course this “little” musical ended up running much longer than five weeks, and opened on Broadway a year later, where Steve received a Tony nomination for his orchestrations. The show eventually won four Tonys (including Best Musical), a Grammy (for Best Show Album), and many other awards. With as many as seven simultaneous companies around the world, (New York, London, Chicago, Las Vegas, Toronto, Melbourne, and a U. S. tour), there have been weeks where Jersey Boys has been seen by over 100,000 people! The Grammy-winning album recently went Platinum.

Scott Yoho: I just read a great article from the Washington Examiner about your Jersey Boys success, and was intrigued not only by the show’s history, but also how the show’s success has allowed you to re-orchestrate the music numerous times for a wide variety of instrumentations.

Steve Orich: It’s a real rarity. Normally, you write the show, record the album and you’re done. But I’ve had opportunities to write arrangements for the Emmys, the Tonys (three times), Letterman, Leno, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, even the National Symphony; all those were additional opportunities to do some of the same songs in a different way with a different ensemble.

Visit to read the entire interview with Steve.

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