Wednesday, February 5, 2014


I recently heard the band on Dancing With the Stars was fired to be replaced largely by recorded music. This was a bad decision and fans of the show, along with the dancers, should agree.    

I was the piano accompanist for several children's musical variety shows at the Hedgerow Theatre in Media, PA.  The cast members were, for the most part, very talented teenagers, aspiring Broadway performers who could sing and dance quite well.  Shows consisted of solo and group numbers, some with piano and others with Karaoke. The group numbers were exciting and involved lots of good singing and dancing. After one particular performance of an excellent show an audience member came up to me telling me he enjoyed the show and particularly the piano.  He then said the cast members sang and danced better in the numbers with live piano accompaniment as opposed to those with Karaoke.

Since this particular show was a hit,  the cast members were asked to perform a few group numbers at a local fundraiser.  Unfortunately, I was not available to play piano so the obvious solution was to perform  Karaoke numbers from the show.  However the cast really wanted to perform ONE from CHORUS LINE, one of the best numbers, which was normally done with piano. The director agreed to let them perform it with Karaoke.  After the fact, the director told me the cast, though satisfied overall with their performance at the fundraiser,  felt ONE was a little weak.  It  was the Karaoke.  After having performed it both with Karaoke and live piano, they concluded their singing and dancing was better with piano.

Live music brings out the best in performers.  When will people get it?  When will DANCING WITH THE STARS realize it’s essential to their show? Maybe, after experimenting with recorded music they will get it when the fans and dancers are not happy. Hopefully,  then they'll realize that live musicians are irreplaceable. It might be too much to ask that a corporate decision be made that is an artistic one also, but, in this case the artistic choice is the right one for viewers and performers alike. By all means,    bring back the band. There's nothing like the real thing!
Musically yours,