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Booth’s Stinson wraps up Wicked run

The Warriors were represented when a wildly popular Broadway musical played the Fox Theatre this summer.

Dr. McKinley Stinson, director of bands for JC Booth Middle, served as the percussionist for the Atlanta run of Wicked’s national tour.

It took time to properly reflect back on such a thrilling experience.

“The cast and pit musicians were incredible. In a four-week run, the show seems to evolve for both the individual and the production,” said Stinson. “Although it was intimidating to play a show for the first time with touring musicians who have performed this show hundreds and thousands of times, they were very supportive and gave direct feedback with kindness.”

The setup is extensive, requiring over 50 percussion instruments, many exclusive to Wicked. The production travels from city to city with the same conductor, drum set player, guitarist, and 3 keyboard players; two of whom are assistant conductors. The local musicians consist of percussion, bass, keyboard, 3 woodwind players, and 3 brass players.

When presented the opportunity, Stinson had to commit to perform all 32 Atlanta shows and provide the percussion instruments. It was a demanding, but rewarding challenge. Within a month of the show, the contractor distributed rehearsal books and a conductor’s view video of the show for local musicians. There were two rehearsals on Tuesday to get through the show. Wednesday was both a sound check and opening night. 

Stinson performed again in Greenville, SC two weeks after finishing the Atlanta run, and there were noticeable changes to vamps, dialogue timing, and balance.

“Preparation is key.”

Stinson would love another opportunity like the one with Wicked. It helps build a better teacher for the Booth band program.

“I was able to ask the other members of the pit orchestra about their supplies and methods to bring back to the classroom. The conductor was clear and expressive, which encouraged me to reflect on my conducting and how I can improve on the podium,” said Stinson. “I enjoy partaking in a balanced career of teaching and performing. By periodically feeling the demands of performing, I am better equipped to exude empathy for my students as they’re musicianship develops.”


Posted 8/18/2023