Calendar

The latest online edition of CLA's Your Impact Magazine

Music Senior Plays Trumpet for 'Kinky Boots'

Cal Poly music senior Taylor O’Hanlon seized a last-minute opportunity to play trumpet in the national-touring production of the Broadway show “Kinky Boots” on Jan. 30.

The morning of the show, O’Hanlon, who has played the trumpet for 12 years, got an email from his professor, Christopher Woodruff. The email said that the trumpet player for “Kinky Boots” was unavailable, and the director was looking for a substitute for the night.

“When I got that email, I felt kind of like a mad scientist rubbing my hands together,” O’Hanlon said. “It was like, ‘opportunity has arisen.’ I was nervous, but I knew if I didn’t take the opportunity, I would be stabbing myself in the foot for later.”

Music Student Taylor O'Hanlon
Taylor O'Hanlon

O’Hanlon plays trumpet for many on-campus music groups, including wind bands, jazz band, symphony, and brass ensembles. He has typically been given 7-9 weeks to perfect a piece. Performing for “Kinky Boots,” however, meant he had just hours to learn the songs for the show.

“That was the fastest I’ve ever had to learn a piece,” he said.

Professor Woodruff was confident that O’Hanlon could handle the quick turn-around.

“His fundamental trumpet skills on tone and technique are solid, and he has a proven record of showing up prepared and on time — that last part is crucial in our business,” Woodruff said.

O’Hanlon said he was happy with his performance in the show. He hopes to perform for shows like this in the future in his career post-graduation. At “Kinky Boots,” he had the chance to talk with the musicians and catch a glimpse of what a career in music might look like for him.

“It was really nice to hear what it’s like for them,” O’Hanlon said. “They’re just a bunch of young people having fun playing music and getting paid for it.”

His experience playing in the show allowed him to explore more aspects of the field than simply playing the instrument. He practiced his professionalism in a high-caliber performance venue.

“I’ll remember the idea of marketing myself — showing up, acting professional, meeting the music director of the show, having the confidence to ask questions if I needed to, getting the cues — in addition to playing the music,” O’Hanlon said.

According to Woodruff, it’s not everyday that music students get gigs of this caliber, or that students have the opportunity to read in on a live show. O’Hanlon’s experience in “Kinky Boots” puts him a step ahead of the crowd.

“It was really encouraging to get this real-world experience,” O’Hanlon said. “It gave me the confidence that I could graduate and have the chance to perform in the future.”

Read the most recent stories in The Link

Related Content