One of the most accomplished jazz drummers in London was Phil Seaman. He was asked to play for the opening few weeks of the production and he agreed, but on one condition - that he could have his dog with him.
The management argued with him, pointing out the requirements of the byelaws, but he continued to insist on being accompanied by his dog. Eventually they capitulated and swore the rest of the players to secrecy.
An American conductor had been engaged to direct this star-studded orchestra. When the rehearsals began Seaman was sitting at one end of the pit, surrounded by a comprehensive drum kit, the dog's lead trapped beneath a chairleg. Soon after the beginning of the first rehearsal, the dog yelped. The conductor looked up.
'A dog.' he exclamed, 'I heard a dog.'
The players looked at each other.
'You did hear a dog, didn't you?' he inquired, a little anxiously.
'A dog?' queried a saxophone player, 'what dog?'
'I didn't hear a thing,' confirmed the trumpeter.
The conductor looked bemused. Slowly he took up his baton and began uncertainly to rehearse again.
The next day the dog barked again. But the players continued to deny any knowledge of its existence. Only the conductor seemed able to hear the phantom canine. Some days and several barks later, the conductor felt so uneasy about his mental state that he began visiting a psychiatrist to discuss this worrying new problem. The wretched man spent hours delving into the half-remembered days of his childhood.
However, soon after West Side Story opened, in the middle of a public performance the dog decided to free himself from his drumming owner and to speed the length of the pit in pursuit of an innocent trombonist's leg. As it ran between the musicians' chairs it gave little yelps of delight. The conductor looked down, fearing for his sanity. But when he saw a real dog and heard the sharp cry of pain from the lips of the assaulted trombonist, he tossed his baton high in the air and threw up his arms in gratitude.
'A dog,' he yelled with relief, 'there is a dog. I knew there was a dog.'
I thought it was pretty funny so I had to share it with you. From: Stick to the Music, Scores of orchestral tales, Collected by John Boyden.
Love and *LIGHTNESS*, Teo Do (Re, Mi, Far....)