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Gary Younge
'The only reason you go is for the experience, for the moment'

"I was just blown away. I had never heard anything like it, and right there I knew it was what I wanted to do."

Twenty five years later it was his turn. "I got to play the same show and the same piece. And even while I was playing it, I was thinking maybe there's some kid out there whose going to go home with the same dream," said Shachter.

Yesterday he was standing outside the Broadway musical 42nd Street, in which he plays the flute, bassoon, clarinet and alto saxophone, with a banner calling on producers to keep music live.

"In every city where they've got rid of minimums, they've eventually gotten rid of orchestras altogether," said Shachter, 44, who can play 12 woodwind instruments.

"Go to Las Vegas or Atlantic City and they almost never have live bands anymore. The only reason you go to a Broadway show is for the experience, for the moment. If you're going to have canned music, then why not have an orchestra playing to a movie screen?"

Recorded music, he said, imposes constraints on the actors and denies the kind of flexibility that is vital in a musical.

"Everyone on stage likes to have the liberty to go a little faster or a little slower, or sing a little sharper or flatter. If they have an orchestra, we can deal with that. A recording can't. What if the applause goes on longer than anticipated?

"I played in The Producers once when one of the actors just clean forgot his lines and we could help him out. Another time they just cracked each other up. It was okay because the audience loved it, but you need a live orchestra to play to that."

Shachter added: "Broadway is so important to the music industry. All around New York city you'll see jazz clubs and philharmonic orchestras, which are great for the culture, but none of them pay that much.

"Broadway provides us with stability, so we can be involved in other musical productions. The producers don't seem to notice the artistry involved. If they got rid of the live music, I'd have to move."

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