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Last minute musical director replacement for "Sweet Charity" 

Footlights

Few things stress out a cast and crew more than big changes at the last minute. So when musical director Brian Lucas left "Sweet Charity" just two weeks before opening, this was one stressed-out bunch. "We were in a 9-1-1 situation, looking for a musical director," says Rick St. Peter, the Barksdale's associate artistic director. All the usual suspects were busy — Blanton Bradley, Paul Deiss, Jose Simbulan.

Then St. Peter remembered a beloved teacher and musical director he had worked with while attending Christopher Newport University in Newport News: Ruth Winters. Winters now freelances as a vocal coach and accompanist, specializing in opera, and is currently preparing to go to Rome, to work on a production of "The Barber of Seville." But her 14-year-old flute prodigy daughter needs a new instrument, and the additional work was too good to pass up. She agreed to fill in for Lucas, she says, "because Rick St. Peter called up and begged and because my daughter needs a flute!"

Coming in at the last minute was extremely intense, Winters says. "The singers knew what they were doing, but we had to hire the rest of the band and basically reorchestrate the score. … There was no whining time left. Everybody just really worked together. … It would have been a lot less fun if we didn't have a really sharp
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