Archive for March, 2012

Where Do We Go From Here?

My lesson this morning was mostly a reflection on the journey I have been on for the last nearly 1.5 years and what a journey it has been!  I guess I did most of the leg work from picking the songs, order placement, finding an accompanist, arranging for the space, finding the female voices I wanted to join me in the ensemble pieces, and probably most importantly, being the one who led the production on stage. I still say the blerb between pieces was awkward but I have been assured that they came across heart-felt in that they explained the personal reason behind most of the songs.  Overall, I was really pleased as was my vocal trainer.

Next step, finding a piece for the recital coming in about 6 weeks.  I did not think much about that over the weekend aside from considering one of my shows (did I just say that) character-driven  pieces that I would love to do again but was not sure if it would be venue appropriate.  I was assured that it would be so it will go on my short list.

After this experience, I really want to go out of the box in what I bring to the table.  While I am a certifiable character performer, I really want to broaden my scope and dip into whatever genres I can (well…. a few not so much, but).  K tells me that she would love to hear me tackle some art pieces.  Not necessarily in a foreign language because there are plenty of English pieces.  I know one from way back when that I would like to give a whirl and she loaned me a book and CD that is full of them.  We looked at a little Irish ditty that sounded fun.  I’m sure that my creative energy will once again peek out.  I already have 2 pastabilities.

And once again, much too soon, I had over gone my lesson time.  However, I got paid a huge compliment before leaving:  My coach could “sing with me all day.”  Aww shucks.

The End Of Songs I Have Learned

Yesterday was an emotional roller coaster.  Thursday night, I hardly slept at all… maybe 5 hours tops (which some people I know are lucky to get in a week ;)).  Being off stage for almost a year and a half created a huge amount of excitement and at the beginning of the day a little nervousness which I know surprised even me but several things throughout the day alleviated that fear.  By the time I was ready to leave for the theater, I was ready to go… physically and mentally.  Adrenaline still there but the fear I seemed to be feeling was gone (if indeed it was fear).  I arrived at my designated time and was soon joined by my accompanist and my cousin who joined  my coach and I in a trio.  I ran through just two of my more problematic numbers and waited on the other two participants to arrive to run through my pieces with them.

With a half hour to spare and the first audience members began to arrive, I headed backstage to put the finishing touches on my attire.  While it does still fit (a fact that amazed my pal :)), I need to use suspenders to hold the pants of my tux up.  Thankfully, I have lost some weight since my days with the BGSU Men’s Chorus.  Moments before I went on stage, my best friend, third brother, and mentor came back and led one of my traditions: the pre-show prayer.  Unfortunately for both of us, he and members of his family have been really under the weather for a while so he had to leave.  But I was SUPER glad that he came behind the curtain for a pep talk, prayer, and hug (don’t care if I catch whatever they are having).  I’m sorry they had to miss it knowing how much they have meant to me in the past 6 years but their health is so much more important.

A little high school game on the BGSU campus with a victory meaning a trip to the state tournament, kept all but 7 of my immediate family members from attending but what I had left was an audience full of wonderful friends plus my two sisters and 4 of my nieces (Kyli came down to the stage after I completed the show and gave me a hug).  The music was great; however, I hope no one asks me to emcee an engagement in the near future.  I am so better suited to a scripted show than attempting to offer extemporaneous (there’s your .10¢ word of the day) comments between songs…. Awkward to say the least.  But the duet and trio of the evening went remarkably well and my solos went as well as I could hope.  I am told that video clips are ready but either my cousin goofed on my email address or there was a goof up along the way somewhere.  In either case, when I get them I will post them (maybe those awkward extemporaneous comments scattered throughout were omitted).   I detest watching myself on film (most of the time).  I can handle Morat from time to time but that is about it.

20 years

I cannot believe it has been that long since I portrayed one Daniel Francis Hannigan in my high school senior year.  This afternoon, I had the pleasure to sit and enjoy the final performance of an area company’s production of “Annie.” I was NOT disappointed.  Several of my theatrical colleagues and friends had roles on stage at the glorious Huber.  Crystal was remarkable as “Aggie” Hannigan.  ALWAYS a powerhouse performance displaying the delciousness of the marvelous character in song, movement, and action.  It is very difficult to pick which “sister” I prefer.

Denver, Denver.  WHAT A HOOT!  He portrayed not only Drake (Warbucks’ butler) but one of FDR’s cabinet members and a dog catcher as well.  Each character was entirely different in appearance, tone, and characterization.  From an Irish brogue to the not-so-stiff English servant, he stole the spotlight in every scene he was in! AND YES, he can sing!

I have always been a huge fan of the Hooverville scene.  The song which “Likes to Thank Herbert Hoover” for putting hundreds of former employed citizens on the streets is a really fun bit which I was a part of in my second go round.  Mary and a few of my other friends doubled  (or tripled) in this scene, as Warbucks’ servants, and a few other cabinet members.

Finally, Annie herself was a delight.  Her charisma on stage fit the role perfectly.  Her singing and speaking voice held just the right amount of power, spunk, and naivete.  For whatever reason, the production had a different actress stepping into the role both weekends.

I make it a point to never critique roles I have previously played (not that I am biased or anything) 🙂


I’m Sure It Will Be Fine

Well.. less than two weeks to go!  I can’t believe how difficult it has been to find two female voices to join me in a few numbers not to mention an accompanist.  Well… I have  the pianist after losing two when the date had to be changed a couple of times.  At today’s rehearsal, I practiced in the sanctuary of the church which houses my instructor’s new studio.  Very nice for the most part.  K even got to sit in the pews and really critique and I was even pleased with MOST of the selections.  She had very few notes on all but one song that was a virtual train wreck.  We got through each of the pieces except for one in about a half hour.  We ran out of time before getting to the final piece.  Not the final piece as I am being accompanied by guitar on my opening piece (something new for me but I think will work nicely) as well as my finale which is going to have NO accompaniment! I also am considering the possibility  of videoing the evening.  If anyone is willing, then I would be open to the possibility as a few of my wonderful friends are either unable or unsure if they are able to come.  I would also be open to an encore if I hadn’t already paid $80 to my pianist… reality check from my school days when I had to pay one for each lesson ;).  In any case, if all goes well I would not be against the idea of doing a new set down the road… maybe More Songs I Have Learned. Followed by Even More Songs I Have Learned. And Still More Songs I Have Learned.  NAH… I think more creative names would be in order.

THAT’s more like it!

For the 25th anniversary celebration of Broadway’s longest running musical, a special performance of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s  The Phantom of the Opera was presented at London’s Royal Albert Hall.  This fully staged extravaganza was filmed for release on video; however, it was also released to a select number of movie houses throughout the world.  Over the course of the next month or so, the special is highlighting Great Performances on PBS.  Last night, I DVRed the event and began watching it after I returned form work.  WOW!  Totally made me forget the totally lifeless movie released a few years ago!  This actually made me feel as if I were in the audience front row.  When actually in a live audience, I have always had the opportunity to see the action from afar taking in the scope and beauty of the theatrical setting without seeing all the nuance of the performers.  The filmed rendition allows the viewer to really watch the actors on stage.  During The Music of the NIght, you can actually see the Phantom  “pulling the strings (or chains)” that Christine wears as he places her under his hypnotic spell.  Of course, after the magnificent piece, the station had one of their pledge drive breaks… somehow I knew that would be one of the high points at which they would interrupt programming.  No wonder it was on for a good 3.5 hours!

Filmed stage productions are a funny thing.  They either work by drawing you in and holding your attention or fail in some degree.  I recently watched the Angela Lansbury version of Sweeney Todd.  Honestly, no matter how hard I tried I could not get into it.  I guess that the process in which filming events such as these  has changed in the last 30-40 years. The Phantom experience was so different because the audience seemed to be part of the show.  I guess that makes sense since the show is set in a theatrical venue.  I am looking forward to watching the rest of the show (even with the breaks).