Sound is a large part of the theater, and many have their own orchestras to provide the music for shows. While they are not part of the activity behind the curtain, they are not the focus of the audience. These dedicated musicians sit in the orchestra pit, and it is generally located between the stage and the front row. Hidden behind a half wall, they sit and play as their cues come up. Few of them are ever acknowledged by the audience because they are part of the support for the show.
Rehearsals for actors go on from early morning to late evening almost daily when a new show is being produced, and the musicians must also have their time to practice together. When the script is chosen, the wardrobe, props and actors are selected. Music is also chosen as soon as possible, and it is done to give the orchestra enough time to arrange and balance their music and practice for the live performances to come.
Music for the theater is closely linked to the script, and it is often rearranged to suit the venue. Acoustics in every theater are different, and balancing the music for the best sound is important. Playing it straight through the first time gives the conductor a chance to hear how it will sound during a performance. Once that is done, the music for each member of the orchestra is arranged so they can learn their part and practice until opening night.
Many of the musicians who are part of a theater orchestra make a good living at it, and some of them are backups for several different orchestras. Their lifestyle during a show run matches that of the rest of the cast and crew, so they have their days free. Located in major cities across the country, they have many opportunities to enjoy other artistic pursuits when their shows are not running.