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  • Natalie Wisdom

Geraldine Anello, Broadway Pianist, and Conductor, Published Poet, Community Leader.

[Interview Date: May 18, 2021]

Kinky Boots, Matilda, The Cher Show, School of Rock, and more.

Book: Naked by Geraldine Anello

Website: Geraldine Anello

Community: Theatre Music Directors

Youtube: Theatre Music Directors

What was the day of March 12, 2020 like for you?

It felt a bit like a relief, because I had spent the week in audition rooms filled with people, including many who shook my hand, and I felt nervous I would get sick, mainly because I have asthma. So, when confinement happened, I thought it was the safest thing for me, and I went in seeing it as an opportunity to delve into taking care of my health and bringing side projects to the forefront of my life.

What was the week following March 12, 2020 like for you?

As the leader of Theatre Music Directors, the first and largest community for music directors worldwide, my focus went into gathering information to cover what was happening in our field across the globe since the media wasn’t reporting about our industry at the time. I also actively looked for ways to head that community in a path of hope and light so that our members could feel a strong sense of togetherness during the dark times and keep their head up looking at a better future as much as was possible given the circumstances.

Did you anticipate that Broadway and other theatre productions would be closed for this long?

For the Theatre Music Directors community, I held many interviews with Broadway, West End, and tour conductors and monthly panels of music directors across the world. These conversations helped me and our members realize that productions were still happening in different parts of the world at any given time. Keeping a global vision helped to comprehend how theatre could keep going under the right circumstances in the right places. It seemed inevitable that at some point, more and more productions would happen again, albeit among varying restrictions.

Have you been able to find/create music gigs for yourself outside of theatre? If so, what have the challenges of this been like?

The way I stayed connected with music was as a champion of musicians. For the Theatre Music Directors community, I had been organizing music directing classes and workshops taught by Broadway music directors since 2012. As confinement started, community members embraced the sudden free time by diving into their education. I offered many classes to our members at a lower price than normal, provided full and partial scholarships for every class, and hired even more Broadway conductors than before and still at the regular Broadway rate.

As you have stepped away from live music for a time, what other things have been healing and fulfilling for you?

Music is a way for me to express my artistry, but as a musician, I am inherently an artist, and there are many ways an artist can make art. As a poet, I had several collections of poetry I had written that were waiting to be published, so I dove into those. The first collection, NAKED, came out this April and became the #1 best seller in multiple categories, including American Poetry, Poetry about Love, and Women’s Poetry. The second collection, called POWER, is set to come out this June - both are available as Kindle and paperback on Amazon.

What have, you, personally, been doing over the past year or so to stay sane? What has helped you the most?

Have I stayed sane?! Has anyone stayed sane?! I didn’t always stay sane, but the most important thing for me was to follow my impulses when they came. After spending months confined entirely alone in New York, I spent time in France to be with my family, which was incredible timing as my grandmother ended up passing away at 94 two weeks ago. I’m so grateful I had the extra time to spend with her last year, in part thanks to the pandemic. Living from my savings, I decided to go where those savings could stretch longer and have somewhat settled in Mexico for a bit, as a result. This has led me to start learning Spanish, which has always been a lifelong goal, and delves into a new beautiful culture, which I always find fulfilling and enriching.

What has been the hardest thing about the past months since the shutdown?

The most challenging part for me, and many others, I’m sure, has been the uncertainty of the future. In a way, it would have been easier to know, for example, “Hey, we’re closing for two years - opening this date.” Not knowing when, if, and how has made it very hard to plan anything, personal or professional.

What do you miss the most about your job/live theatre?

My colleagues! Broadway musicians, actors, composers, and creative team members are some of the most dedicated, passionate, and incredible talents in the world. My most significant source of joy working in the field is getting to witness them do their thing and create magic day after day. I’ve missed experiencing their gift, as well as the sense of camaraderie and community.

What’s your favorite theatre memory?

The first day I got to conduct a Broadway show! It was a dream I had had for so many years, and to have it happen felt unreal. All the musicians in the pit and the actors were so supportive, and even the fantastic producer Daryl Roth came down to the pit to personally congratulate me. To know how many people trusted me and gave me a chance is something I will always be deeply thankful for.

What is the first thing you’re going to do when theatre is back?

See a show!

What advice do you have for young Broadway/Musician hopefuls during this time?

Invest in your skills and your network. Take classes and workshops, and surround yourself with like-minded people and people you look up to. Keep believing and working at it because you can do it!

Lightning Round:

Favorite Broadway Musical: Aaaaaaaaaaah, too many!

Favorite Movie Musical: Singing in the Rain

Movie that you think should be a Musical: Hidden Figures

Favorite Song: For Good from Wicked

Favorite instrument: The piano

Favorite instrument you don’t play: The guitar

Favorite theatre tradition: Dollar Friday

Favorite NYC restaurant: Glass House Tavern

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