• Matt Wong

How To Get a Gig Playing Guitar on a Touring Broadway Show

Updated: Jul 23

How To Get a Gig Playing Guitar on a Touring Broadway Show

By Matt Wong


In 2018, I had the honor of originating the Guitar 2 chair on the Come From Away 1st National Tour, with which I toured for a year. In my year on the road, that company of Come From Away played 373 shows in 28 cities across the United States and Canada. My tenure with the show began here in New York City with band rehearsals on September 20, 2018, and ended with a Sunday evening show in Ottawa on September 8, 2019.


Since I got the gig, I have gotten a lot of questions from friends, from people that I met on the road, and from emails and Instagram DMs about the gig. Thus, I have decided to start a new series of posts dedicated to talking about my experiences working as a touring musician. Since this is by far the most asked question, the first post will answer "How to get a gig playing guitar on a touring Broadway show."

In February 2018, I was in my last semester at Berklee College of Music, and I got a Facebook message from my friend Mike, a fantastic guitar player here in New York City. In his message, he said that he wanted to recommend me to the contractor for an upcoming tour of a Broadway show.


The next day, I got an email from the contractor asking if I was interested in the gig, and to send him some electric and acoustic samples of my rock playing, which I did. After a subsequent phone call, the contractor sent me a dropbox folder with some excerpts from the show to record and send back as an audition. These excerpts were from the Guitar 1 book, which despite positive comments from the contractor regarding sense of style, and intonation, I did not get chosen for. Adam Stoler, a phenomenal guitarist, also in New York City, who I consider to be a mentor and good friend got the chair.


Note: In addition to the contractor, many people can be involved with "casting" the right musicians for an orchestra/band such as the show's music supervisor, and orchestrator. We will talk about personnel on tour and their roles in a future post.


Following this initial audition, I was asked if I played any mandolin and bouzouki. I had started playing mandolin earlier in my time at Berklee, so the contractor then asked me to take a look at and record some excerpts from the Guitar 2 book.


Note: Mandolin is one of several instruments that guitar players are regularly asked to play in addition to guitar. This is called "doubling," and you get paid extra!


Although I had never played an Irish bouzouki before (the contractor was aware of this), I knew that it was tuned like a mandolin (in 5ths), so I went about finding and borrowing one, and quickly learned the bouzouki excerpt from the audition material. In college, I did a lot of reading on the legendary Los Angeles studio guitarist Tommy Tedesco, and if there's anything I learned, it is to always say yes when asked about doubling. However, you should definitely know, and be aware of your limits.


After sending over these new recordings, the contractor asked me if I was available to meet with him and the music supervisor, and watch the show in New York City. I was already scheduled to head home from Boston to play a couple gigs in the city (we are in April at this point), so that worked out perfectly. Our meeting took place on April 28th, and a day later, I was offered the gig.


Now that you know my story on how I got a gig playing guitar on a touring Broadway show, I hope your takeaway is that word of mouth, just like in any other area of music is the key to getting opportunities. In the realm of musical theatre, you may see announcements to submit resumes and videos for non-union tours from time to time, and you should definitely jump on those opportunities. However, from my observations, contractors and music supervisors putting together orchestras/bands for big union tours generally have an idea of who they want to "cast," or they ask around their network for recommendations for players to audition.


This wraps up the first post on my experience touring with a Broadway show. If you are curious about this kind of gig and have a question for a future post, or want to say hi, and connect, feel free to leave a comment, email, or follow, and DM me on Instagram (@mattwongguitar). Thanks for reading!

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© 2020 Matt Wong.