Life for Rent: interview with Jake Bhanji

Ahead of the Music Theatre Society’s production of Rent which starts this Wednesday, I talked with the show’s Musical Director, Jake Bhanji.

DH: What’s your involvement with the show this year? And what does that mean?

bhanjiJB: I’m the Musical Director for Rent which means I work with the band, preparing and perfecting the vast accompanying music for the show and come performance time, conduct and play the keyboard. I rehearse the band twice a week, and also work closely with our brilliant vocal director, Steph, and awesome director, Alick, in ensuring amendments in the music and the cues are noted. Now at this later stage, we’re working on bringing the band and the cast together, so the cast can get used to the music, and the band used to the singing.

DH: And what are the challenges of working on this show?

Jonathan Larson certainly knows how to keep the musicians on our toes! The shear amount of music, filled with changes in time signatures, keys, tempo, and much more as been a challenge, but we’ve met them well, and I’m immensely proud of the band for coping with it all! Despite its complexity, the music is still great and both the band and the cast love it.

DH: So what have you most enjoyed working on?

To be honest, there is so much to choose from, so it is really difficult to choose just one I’ve enjoyed. Well, Out tonight is definitely a favourite! As well as the big opening number Rent’ it really brings the whole show to life, kicking it off with a bang, which just keeps getting better! Speaking with the band, I know unanimously La Vie Boheme is definitely one that we all leave rehearsals still singing!

DH And you’re in the Gulbenkian this year, rather than your usual haunt, the Whitstable Playhouse ?

Yes, it is great to use the fantastic facilities that we have here on campus. The Gulbenkian offers brilliant theatre space, and I’m really looking forward to getting in there, and putting it all together, it’s like the final part to the puzzle. Speaking of facilities, the music department here, has been brilliant putting up with our band rehearsals and loaning out equipment. It’s been so beneficial to make use of the new sound proof band room, pianos and drums, without which would really make our band redundant.

DH:  Why, thank you: glad to help! Can you give us a hint as to what we’re in for on the night ?

JB: You’re in for a night full of rockin’ music; virtuosic singing, acting and dance, and a story that’ll make you want to get up and start singing and dancing with the cast! Not to mention a treat for both the guys and girls, trust me! And a show that you’ll never forget!

The production runs this week, from Wednesday to Friday. at the Gulbenkian Theatre: details and tickets online here.



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