Published: July 28, 2011
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Meet Florida native SBF Member Randy Glass, a multi-talented artist whose career has often found him on both sides of the fence, either acting and/or singing, including Broadway or as a Musical Director and Vocal Coach.
Read his interview and find out about how his career has evolved to be part of the NCL Creative Team...
Randy Glass

  • Quote ...NCL has four musical directors for their shows and we rotate around the 11 ships. With the rehearsal process being about five weeks long, and the contract changing every six months, that's 40 weeks there for four ships each....
    Can you tell us about your background?

    Randy Glass: I was born in Florida and went to the University in Gainesville, Florida and got a degree in Piano Performance. I had a wonderful teacher there who get me interested in theatre. I took acting lessons, so that if I was directing a show, I would know how to relate to actors. But them I got involved in performing myself. After that I lived in Orlando, Florida and worked for the Walt Disney Company as a performer as well as a Vocal Coach for them. I've also worked as a singer on cruise ships. Now that I'm a Musical Director, I've played on both sides of the fence.

    Broadway, Imperial Theatre
Les Misérables
Randy as Feuilly (centre-right)
with J. Mark McVey, Diana Kaarina, Christopher Mark Peterson, Peter Lockyer, Sandra Turley (nee Dudley), Robert Hunt, Kevin Kern, Edward Juvier & Jimmy Walsh

  • Which shows have you performed in?
    RG: Many … My Fair Lady, Annie, Sisters of Swing, Mame, Kismet, Pump Boys and Dinettes and The Oil City Symphony and on Broadway I did Les Misérables for several years and most recently, A Tale of Two Cities. I also did the tracks for the longest running show in Las Vegas, Jubilee!, when they redid them about 15 years ago. When I first moved to New York I did musical direction for regional productions. Mostly what I do now, is coach singers in New York - I'm a vocal coach and every now and again I'll do an acting gig. Sarasota, Keating Theatre at Florida Studio Theatre
I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change
Stacey Scotte, Randy, Gil Brady & Stacey Harris
2010 I recently did a show called, I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change. I like to keep myself up on it and as I said, it helps me when I'm directing a show to relate to the artists. I can speak their language as a performer as well.

  • What are your music skills?
    RG: Piano is my main instrument and what I graduated in and I took vocals as a secondary. I love theatre, but what I love the most is coaching. It's very rewarding to be able to take someone to a place where they know their technique and I can bring them to an acting standpoint. So they are not there just singing a song, but they know what they are singing about and tell a story to you.

  • How did you get into working for NCL?
    RG: Years ago when I lived in Orlando, I used to play for their auditions. Then I moved onto teaching shows for them.

  • NCL Jade
Randy coaching NCL Jade singers Melanie Stringer, Erika Urena Holmes, Kylie Fisher & Kerry Whiteside
2011 What is your role in the shows?
    RG: I work as an outside contractor and I've been hired for a number of things, but mostly to teach the new cast shows when they come in and put them with the band. Occasionally I'll write charts for them or do some vocal arranging.

  • Can you tell us about that process from when you start planning for a new production show, until when it opens?
    RG: Sure... for a piece like Shout and Showdown which have been running for about 3 years on the NCL Jade, we would have about a week of rehearsals on land for each show, for music staging and then we have a few days to review each one - so about five weeks in total. Once you get here to the theatre, the hardest thing, as compared to theatres say in New York or anywhere else, is that your theatre time is at the mercy of the ship, because they have to use the theatre for shore excursion information and things like that. So you might come in thinking: "I've got four days of tech to get this show up", but it might turn into about 12 hours in the long run. So sometimes when you think it's going to be an easy process, it turns into high pressure for the cast. Usually the first 1˝ - 2 days of rehearsals is strictly music with all the singers and I rehearse them to make sure they know where they are coming from and what they are doing. After that we start staging. I'm usually playing piano for rehearsals in the staging process and at the same time listening to the singers. NCL Jade
Randy in the Orchestra Box with musicians
2011 As always when you start putting things on their feet, all the vocal stuff that you've learned goes away, when your right brain and left brain start working together. When we get to the ship, they have to be at a point where they know what they are doing on their own, because my focus shifts to the band and the sound department to make sure that all the pieces fit together. This week we have a new pianist onboard, so last night at midnight, because that was the only time that the theatre was free, I was rehearsing with him and the other band members.

  • Can you tell us about the music in the Jade's production shows. Do you use original music or already published material?
    RG: There are two singing shows, Shout and Showdown and Elements, which mainly features the dancers and acts.
    Showdown was originally conceived by a man called John Carrafa and Skip Brevis did the music. It's basically an American Idol kind of parody. There are 10 people in the show with four main characters. These four characters compete for the title of The Jade and the audience gets to help vote them off. So it's never the same ending, the show changes every time you see it, just depending on how the audience votes. Mainly Motown music and other pieces that people know.
    NCL Jade
The Orchestra rehearsing
2011 Shout! is a totally different thing. It tells the story of five women. They're all British with the exception of one, who is American. It takes place in the 60s. Each one of these women has her own story to tell and coming of age. That time in history is so wonderful for women becoming much stronger in society. In one of the costume changes, one of the girls wears pants which was a big thing in the 60s. Each one of the songs used is put into context of what the character is going through. Most cruise ships shows will last about 50 minutes. The original version of Shout! off Broadway and on tour, was a 1˝ hour show, so we had to figure out what to cut out, without effecting the story line and get the point across. Elements is all tracked. There's no live singing and it's all danced. It all full of illusions, automation and it's very danced, so it has to be specific 'timing wise' to fall on the exact same place. Obviously a live band is capable of doing it, but on a cruise ship there are changes, like this week with the new pianist and if you have a new person in, the tempo is going to change slightly. That would make it a little bit different from what people are used to and if that happens in a show like Elements, you can be in trouble and it becomes a danger.

  • Avid Sibelius software for music notation How many musicians are in the show band?
    RG: There are seven on this ship.

  • What music notation software do you use writing and/or composing?
    RG: For writing I use Sibelius software, which I love - it has such wonderful new programs on it.

  • Do you also write the orchestration?
    RG: I don't. Shout was an existing show and came with all the parts, so to speak. Showdown was written specifically for the ship by John Carrafa and Skip Brevis who did all the arrangements. Skip has a Motown band in New York and there are some really nice horn arrangements in there.
    Quote ...Willard Brask got me into theatre and suggested that I take some theatre classes, so that I could identify with people. He was a great guy and saw me through every step of the way and we still keep in touch to this day...
  • Who in the NCL creative team do you work most closely with?
    RG: NCL has four musical directors for their shows and we rotate around the 11 ships. With the rehearsal process being about five weeks long, and the contract changing every six months, that's 40 weeks there, for four ships each. We work very closely with the Director - you live and breathe with them, so you figure out what their rhythm is, what they want out of the performers and helping as much as we can to get the singers to that point vocally. On the NCL Jade, Patricia Wilcox is the Director for all three production shows, so I've worked with her and her assistant. When we get onboard I work with the production team and the Band Master. I also have a very close relationship with the Sound Man. NCL Jade
Khaled F. Ali, Bradford Rahmlow & Randy in rehearsals

  • What is your favorite genre of music?
    RG: To this day, I still love classical music. When I need 'my time', I will listen to that. As far as my favorite style to play, that's a difficult question, because it's been a long time since I've played for myself. Two years ago I was asked to do a show called Two Pianos, Four Hands. It's two pianists on stage and they tell a story of their growing up and taking piano lessons. Each person gets to act and while the other one is telling his story, they play different characters in their life and vice versa and then they play things together including Bach concerto D Minor. In the end I didn't get to do it as I had another contract, but at the time I had to start digging into that again and I've found a new appreciation for it. Thankfully that has made me play a bit more and now I'll just sit down and play Chopin - who is my favorite. Recently I've also started to write some of my own stuff too.

  • What would you say has been the highest moment in your career, so far?
    RG: Gosh I don't know... (laughing) there has been so many! I would have to say as a performer, when I got Les Miz on Broadway as it is my first Broadway show. The time when you say: "wow, look where I am". That was when I moved to New York when I was 30. I didn't know if I would like it up there, but I've been there 14 years now and I love it.

  • What Musical Directors or industry professionals, in the present or past have inspired you, on a personal or professional level?
    Quote ...It's very rewarding to be able to take someone to a place where they know their technique and bring them to an acting standpoint. So they are not there just singing a song, but they know what they are singing about and tell a story to you...
    RG: Inspiration as far as writing things, I think Stephen Sondheim is a genius. I know that he gets knocked down a lot by the critics, but I think that the way he writes shows is very inspiring, as he tells a story through his music as well as his lyrics. It's not just about, here's five cords and some words on top. If you listen to everything, even just orchestration, you know where he is going, you know what the story is and what he is saying. Ever since I first heard his work, I've thought he is amazing.

  • If you had the chance to thank anybody for what you have achieved, who would that be?
    RG: Oh, Mum and Dad of course and Willard Brask, who was my piano teacher in college. I can remember one time going in for a lesson and he said to me: "...well, what do you want to do?" and I said: "what do you mean?" and he said: "you don't want to be a concert pianist do you?", when I shook my head, he said: "good, because otherwise you are at the wrong school". It was great, because he was being very honest. He's the one who got me into theatre and suggested that I took some theatre classes so that I could identify with people. He taught me how to write charts and I had pretty much a-one-to-one relationship with him. He was a great guy and saw me through every step of the way and we still keep in touch to this day.

    Thank you Randy for this great interview and best of luck with your multiple showbiz careers!

    Luis Benitez
Audio Technician onboard NCL Jade

    Luis Benitez
    Audio Technician onboard NCL Jade

    Luis has worked for NCL for 7 years and has been in audio for 25 years.
    He runs the sound for the main shows in the Stardust Theatre.