The Reason for the Musical Magic – The Story of Mr. Smith
By Jonathon Kane
I have had the opportunity for the past 4 years to work with a man who should be regarded as an East Noble legend; his name is Robert Smith, and for the past 20 years he has been responsible for directing the majestic music of East Noble Theatre. Tens of thousands of people have listened to and enjoyed the music that Robert has instructed and directed to student thespians. Mr. Smith is often the unsung hero of East Noble Theatre, but without him, the magic of this theatre would just not have been possible.
Mr. Smith began working with the Munks in 1994 as he came to direct “Hello Dolly.” He had taught at Prairie Heights and had also served as that school’s musical director previously. With some experience under his belt, he jumped into the world of East Noble Theatre. Twenty years later, he is directing his final East Noble show, “Shrek the Musical.” Mr. Smith has had a stunning career, and in an interview with him, he told me, “With the winter and spring shows at EN, the anniversary shows, and a few gaslight productions, I have worked on 54 shows with Craig Munk.” That is an incredible achievement, and it is one that deserves to be celebrated.
When asked about his favorite things about East Noble Theatre, he was quick to answer. “My favorite show was probably Secret Garden!” “It had beautiful music, great sets, and a great cast.” Mr. Smith also stated that, “My favorite part of East Noble Theatre was the chance to work with such dedicated and talented students! EN is lucky to have such a great pool of talent to work with.” This master musician also credits East Noble Theatre for allowing him to command a piano. He said, “When I first started, I couldn’t play the piano very well. The theatre made me practice to become the piano player that I am today.”
Hard work has definitely been in Mr. Smith’s nature over the past 20 years. Not only does he have to teach the student thespians the music of a show, but he must make time outside of rehearsal and his work at Avilla Elementary to work on specific songs with leads. In some shows he is required to play all of the music alongside an orchestra or an ensemble. Other shows require him to learn the complicated OrchExtra software that fuels the music for shows like “Shrek the Musical.” Mr. Smith is incredibly dedicated to what he does, and spends hours preparing for shows, sometimes months before the show even begins rehearsals.
Undoubtedly, Mr. Smith’s work over the past 20 years has played a tremendous role in the success of East Noble Theatre. Without his passion for music, his incredible work ethic, and the joy he receives from working with East Noble students, audiences would have missed out on some truly amazing performing arts displays. As Mr. Smith ends his full career with East Noble Theatre, we will all miss him. The students, staff, parents, and audience members will never forget the wonderful music he brought to our ears show after show, measure after measure, and note after note.