"I'm not sure I intentionally sought this as a career," John Miller says. "What got me into this was my love of playing the bass."
Miller is a musical coordinator, or contractor, for Broadway shows. For more than 30 years he has been the coordinator on over 100 productions, including the Tony-winning Once, The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess, Newsies, the Follies revival, Jersey Boys, Rock of Ages and Hairspray — all the way back to Barnum in 1980.
He's also a contractor for touring shows, movies and commercials. And yes, he freelances as a string bass player (though not in his musicals) for recordings and concerts, including at the nightclub 54 Below.
Composer Cy Coleman specifically led Miller to this career. "I worked as a studio musician for Cy. I played on some of his albums and was involved in his Broadway musical I Love My Wife," in 1977. "I was music director and played Harvey, the bass player. Just four musicians were in the band, onstage, acting and singing. About a year later, Cy said he had this show Barnum and asked me to be music contractor. I said, 'Absolutely not.' He was incredulous. I said, 'I'm single in New York, playing the bass, riding my motorcycle, having a great time.' He said, 'I got to give it to some schmuck. I'd just as soon give it to you.' That was 100 shows ago."
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