The Man Behind the Music: Joshua Zecher-Ross

While some of our audiences may not immediately recognize his name, in his short tenure as Music Director, Joshua Zecher-Ross has become a vital part of the creative team here at the Little Theatre on the Square. From the skill and dexterity he uses to direct our orchestra, to the care he uses in music rehearsals, our twice surnamed conductor of all things musical has certainly made a mark on this summer’s mainstage season.

Recently, he took time out of his busy schedule to sit down and shed some light on his background and new life here on the Square. From his first experience in the theatre, to how a big city musician spends his free time in the cornfields of Central Illinois, JZR shares the bare facts and some goofy tidbits.

LTOTS: Where were you born?
JZR: New York City, NY

Where do you consider you “hometown” to be?
New York City, but when I go home to be with my family, it’s in Lenox, Massachusetts

Where did you go to school?
I went to the Steinhardt School at New York University in New York City.

What was your major there?
Musical Theatre
,  I have a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance with an emphasis in Music Theatre.

As a youngster, Zecher-Ross fell in love with Theatre at a performance of "The Phantom of the Opera"
As a youngster, Zecher-Ross fell in love with musicals with a little help from Julie Andrews

What drew you to Theatre and Music when you were young?
I loved the singing and the music.  Even before I knew I wanted to be involved with musical theatre, I loved watching movie musicals and seeing musicals onstage.

What was your earliest experience you can remember with Theatre and Music?
My earliest memories of musical theatre all center around Julie Andrews.  I would watch The Sound of Music on VHS two or three times everyday, and interspersed, I would watch Mary Poppins or Thoroughly Modern Millie.  By the time I was three years old, I had worn out three copies of The Sound of Music video cassette. My public involvement with music began at my mom’s synagogue singing in the choir.  At age 6, I was decidedly the youngest choir member, but I remember loving every moment of the rehearsals and the services when we sang.

You trained as a performer– how did you begin your career as a director?
I was in the company of actors at the Mac-Haydn Theatre in Chatham, NY, when the assistant musical director had to be replaced. The year before, I had played for a few cabarets and filled in for the rehearsal accompanist, but I had never music directed before. But, I went to the producer and told her that if she needed someone to fill in for the AMD, I was willing, although I knew nothing about it. After some serious trial by fire, I was a musical director! That was seven years ago, and I have been music directing ever since. I still sing often, at my parents’ synagogues and in concerts and cabarets, and I audition when I’m in NYC, but I love music directing and playing and conducting shows.

You worked with [current Artistic Director] Tralen Doler before. Tell us how that relationship began.
I first worked with Tralen four years ago at the Mac-Haydn and we have created many wonderful shows together since then at both the Mac-Haydn and at Cohoes Music Hall near Albany, NY.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Knitting in the Square!  Although I made a New Year’s Resolution a few years ago to not make New Year’s Resolutions, I decided that 2010 would be the year I learned how to knit.  And I love it!  I knit in any time that I can find, and I love knitting outdoors.  I also enjoy cooking, trying new recipes and recreating wonderful food I’ve eaten.

Guilty pleasure?

Joshua Zecher-Ross and members of the LTOTS orchestra
Joshua Zecher-Ross and members of the LTOTS orchestra

Chocolate or The Sound of Music.

Most memorable theatrical experience?
Phantom of the Opera was the first show I saw in New York City for my 7th birthday.  My mom and brother and I were sitting in the middle of the orchestra section.  I was completely awestruck by everything I was watching and hearing and then my mom whispered “Look up.” to me and I look up just in time to see the chandelier (that I still find gargantuan today) free-falling right onto my family!  Luckily, it swerved and hit the stage instead.  Phew!

Other than the obvious size difference, what is the biggest change for you from NYC to here?
The lack of hustle and bustle!  I think it takes the same amount of time to get a cup of coffee or check out at the grocery store here as it does in New York, but here, time feels much more relaxed. Also, I had never seen a John Deere tractor jump-starting a Corvette until I came here.

Favorite thing to do in Sullivan?
Walking around.  I love to walk by the cornfields and around the town, especially in the evening.  I had never seen a shooting star or the Big Dipper before this summer.  Star gazing is not something that one can do in New York City.

Have more questions for Joshua or any of our other company members? Share them on our Facebook page!