Music To Your Ears


The spring production features a live orchestra pit for the first time in three years.

This years spring musical, The Little Mermaid, featured an orchestra led by band director, Mr. Mahdi Lotfi. The Pit consists of students playing a variety of instruments including the drums, violin, electric bass, saxophone, and more. With over 50 pieces to prepare, the musicians have been practicing hard to perfectly synchronize with the actors on stage to create a magical experience for all to enjoy.

Having a Pit for a PFHS production is new territory for all but seniors due to the pandemic. “I [played in] the pit for Mamma Mia because my sister was the lead [and] decided to do it again because I really enjoyed learning the music and hearing the sound we produced,” said senior Trisha Thatai, who plays the electric bass.  

Choosing which students will be part of the Pit is a big decision that is based on skill level and commitment to the instrument. “There was no audition process, it was strictly placement from me. [I used a] conductor’s book that said [which] instruments [were] needed, and then I picked out students who could play [at] that level of music,” said Lotfi.

Weekly pit practices began in late January, resulting in musicians having to learn many complex pieces in a very short period of time. “It’s been a lot of fun, [but], it can be stressful at times,” said senior Hannah Ryan, who plays the violin. “I’ve never done anything like this before, [so] I am a little nervous for the shows, but we have been making some great progress.”

Participating in the pit requires a high degree of coordination. “You need to have one eye on your music and one eye on the conductor. It’s a lot of multitasking which can be overwhelming at times,” said Thatai. “However, it is all worth it because now we are able to support the actors on stage and produce something beautiful.”

Conducting the pit is a demanding job because the conductor has two equally critical functions: to keep the musicians in time as well as to adjust the music in real time to match what is happening on stage. “The musicians [and] leads have parts where they can take a break, however, I’m watching every single word go by and making sure it aligns perfectly with the music and if something goes wrong, making sure I can adjust accordingly,” said Lotfi.

The pit environment is very different from a musician’s typical performing experiences. “I’ve never played in an ensemble before that requires such spontaneity. [Since] we have to follow the cues of what’s [happening] on stage, what we’re playing could change instantly depending on the night,” said Ryan.

Learning from this experience can help future performances with a Pit run smoother. “I would’ve definitely liked the music a little earlier, especially for something as intensive as the Little Mermaid, it would have helped so much and allowed me to prepare more,” said Thatai. “I would’ve also appreciated more rehearsals with the cast as there are so many things that need to be tweaked.”