“The most enjoyable part of my job is getting to see the way the kids’ enjoyment, understanding and portrayal of the show evolves and grows as it goes on. You’ve seen them go on this journey as they are acting and singing on stage and it’s really exciting.”
Bryan DeSilva is currently working on his PhD at Temple University. In addition, he is teaching voice lessons to musical theatre majors at Temple and music directing some of their shows. This is his first summer at Upper Darby Summer Stage and we sat down with him to discuss what it’s like to be a music director and also new to Summer Stage.
Bryan is currently the music director of “The Circle of Life,” Summer Stage’s first Children’s Theater show of the 39th season. He first began as a music director two years ago in the fall of 2012 at Temple University. There he worked on shows including “Spring Awakening” and “Brigadoon.” According to Bryan, it is the music director’s role to “to teach the music to the cast, coach them to be more musical as well as how to express ideas through the music.”
Bryan’s job is especially crucial for “Circle of Life,” which is a musical revue show. A revue is a collection of songs with an overarching theme. These songs are then strung together with a narrative or short narrations to create the overall show. “Circle of Life” is Disney themed and the narrations in the show are actual memories about Disney from the cast members themselves.
Going with that theme, I asked Bryan what he loved about Disney. “I love how Disney can have meaning to me or to you, to any person, all throughout their life,” Bryan said. “I see something that I loved as a kid again as I get older and I sort of pick up on things that I didn’t understand as a kid. It sticks with you and is always new.”
“Circle of Life” has a particularly crunched rehearsal schedule, given that the staff has only three weeks to create the entire show. The cast and staff are rehearsing every single day for that three-week period, but Bryan doesn’t mind. “I honestly have never had a job where I was so excited and so looking forward to coming in every morning, especially one where you have to be here at 9 a.m.”
When asked how he heard about Summer Stage, Bryan said, “I have taught quite a few former Summer Stagers. I have taught Ali Caiazzo, Chris Monaco, Ian Monaco, Owen Pelesh and Jeff Familetti.” His students told him about the program and how much they enjoyed it. He first saw a Summer Stage show last summer when he saw “Fiddler on the Roof”.
Having seen “Fiddler”, Bryan knew that the standards at Summer Stage were high. Coming in as a new staff member, he was worried that “It was a camp where parents are like ‘okay take care of my kid’.” But after just a few rehearsals of “Circle of Life”, Bryan realized that this was not the case. He was shocked to find that “Every kid that’s here really wants to be here and really wants to work hard. That’s something really new for me. I have never had that experience before and it’s what makes it so exciting everyday.”