Posts Tagged ‘Phantom of the Opera’

Eric And The Beast On A Rag

I did get to sit in the audience of the City Band Wednesday night.  I wasn’t sure if it was going to be at the bandstand or at its alternate venue.  Before finding that out, I decided to locate the place of my Thursday afternoon voice lesson which was easier to locate than the directions given by my new coach.  I googled the address and it was a breeze to find.  Especially with the number written on the mailbox.  The house was buried by a wooded area but really easy to find.  All I had to do was turn off of U.S. 6 onto County Road 13 and it was .3 miles away.  Then, with plenty of time to spare, I went to Wal Mart and ran into some old friends and saw the truck belonging to another but was not able to find him.  I must have been on the wrong end of Electronics (or he could have been hiding). 😉

After discovering that the concert would be at the ice rink with five minutes to spare, I decided that given the choice, I would have rather directed Stars and Stripes this week as opposed to last (not complaining, just sayin’).  I just think this week’s concert had better music. Many songs I was already familiar with… “12th Street Rag” I had sung in choir and played sometime.  Of course, a different arrangement than I am accustomed to, but I would have enjoyed sitting in the low brass section playing “Selections from Phantom of the Opera” and the title tune from the animated classic turned hit Broadway show “Beauty and the Beast.”

Speaking of Phantom, my brother turned to me and stated that the high school at which he serves as the tech advisor will be performing the musical next year.  I did not believe him until I looked on line and discovered that the rights have just indeed become available from R&H productions for high school and amateur productions.  There had been “test” runs a few years ago overseen by Lord Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful Group company.  But how did the small school get the rights so quickly?  Hicksville had better “Got Talent” to pull this off.  I imagine that the rights are probably for a tailored production of the musical.

I asked Liz if they were going to come next week for the announced ice cream social “before and during the concert.”  I don’t think she realized where she will be next Wednesday because she didn’t know if they would be or not.  Probably not since they will be at Disney World.  Maybe they could borrow Aladdin’s magic carpet, Carpet. I’d rather be there when it is not so hot!

A fun concert moved to a different venue to be “safe rather than sorry.”

How To Get To Carnegie Hall

While at work today, the boss informed me of a spectacular trip her brother and nephew (a seventh grade theatre buff) were recently part of.  Her brother is the principal of a high school whose choir just took a trip to the Big Apple.  Not only did the group perform at Carnegie Hall (that in itself would be a dream come true) but they saw no less than 3 Broadway Musicals! (Phantom of the Opera, The Lion King, and the current smash revival of West Side Story).  When I was in the BGSU Men’s Chorus, the biennial Spring Break tour to New York City afforded us the chance to see one… and MAYBE two shows while living out of the Lakefront Tour buses.  I must admit to being a wee bit jealous.  Not only do I find it hard to imagine that they were able to see that many shows in 1-2 days, but how did they perform and still have time to sleep?  Not that many of them got much sleep.  I know from experience.  I asked if I could go back to his school next year.  I could age myself about 20 years less, right?!  That must have been a lot of cheese and sausage sold to take a trip of that magnitude!

The boss remarked that it only took me an hour to come up with West Side because she could not and it was my mission to come up with the title of a popular, CURRENT show.  So I started rattling off the current musicals on the boards: Wicked, Shrek, Mary Poppins, Rock of Ages, Billy Elliot, Hairspray, Mamma Mia!>  When none of these worked,  I thought… she said CURRENT, but…

Jamiah: West Side Story?!

Di: THAT”S IT!

J: But you said current.  West Side Story is indeed on revival but it is hardly current.

Di: Go back to work!

That’s gratitude!  Next time, I’ll let her sweat it out a little more.  HA!

Getting Exactly What Was Advertised

A group of friends and I attended an area talent showcase of extremely gifted teenagers.  Who says that tomorrow’s leaders are destined for failure?  Sponsored by a local church, many of the acts were religious in theme from very powerful interpretive dance/signing to an intriguing dramatic presentation.  However, there were a few pianists, a very talented violinist, and some EXCEPTIONAL female vocalists.  One of the worship bands who performed, Exclamation, featured a friend who is a regular member of our game night and has been on stage several times. I sat beside her father and I could tell that j was as proud as can be of his youngest as was I.  One of the critiques made by the judges was that their diction was TOO crisp?!  That caused me to raise an eyebrow.  I cannot tell you how many times I have been told to ENUNCIATE almost to the point at which I was over enunciating.  I can see instances where dialect in a song would cause diction to be stressed differently, but the song Exclamation sang definitely was not one.  I wonder if the group’s mentor had been sitting in the audience and what her reaction was.

One of the solo vocalists I have had the pleasure of performing in ensembles with previously.  She sang a glorious rendition of “Think of Me” from Phantom of the Opera.  This junior in high school is already a three-year member of an area city’s opera.  She definitely has a very bright future ahead of her.

I was also greatly impressed by an 11th grader who chose to perform an aria, Amarilli, mia bella.  I did not begin singing Italian art pieces until after high school with a trained vocalist.  This young lady commented that she had received a LITTLE(?) training.

There were other performers who played an instrument that in my opinion must be learned from birth.  I greatly admire anyone who can come close to mastering ANY stringed instrument.  A junior in high school performed her violin solo seemingly flawlessly.

I must say that some of the interpretive dances were perhaps some of my favorite segments… even if one of the groups seemed to be toted higher than the others as they were formed from young members of the evening’s sponsoring church.  Another of the groups performed to “You Raise Me Up.”  This song is very special to me as it was the last song that I worked on under Emily’s tutelage and I don’t think I gave it it’s true potential.  This is definitely a song that I would like to revisit, I think I am ready to.

So, our little corner of the world does indeed possess some exceptional talent in our youth.  What a blessing to have evenings such as this to showcase it.  Although I knew going in that the evening would contain some religious flavor, I for one think that it had just a smidgen too much for my taste.  Not enough to totally turn me off but I am sure that there were some in the audience who may have been a bit uncomfortable.  I also grew weary of the panel of judges giving their critiques which did not always make sense although they were all three trained professionals in the field.  Seventeen acts with critiques for each seemed to drag at times and the comments and the “stars” awarded did not always match up.  Just give the critique and move on.  And above all, eat the microphone.  Plus, be sure to enunciate but not too much.

Crossing the Big Pond

Planning a trip to London? Let me be your guide to the best the West End has to offer in theatre. Already there are the Bradway hits Wicked, Phantom of the Opera (ok, ok, it was in London first), and the just opened Jersey Boys. However, there are several productions which have not yet made the leap over to the U.S.

There is the Andrew Lloyd Webber produced revival of The Sound of Music. Apparently, Lord Lloyd Webber cannot produce anything new on his own that is capable of making money so he must revive not only his past successes but also breathe new life into other’s works as well (whaever happened to his planned sequel to Phantom?). There is also a revival of Webber’s Joseph….. In a bit of “American Idol” meets musical theatre, the Joseph for this production was chosen on a reality television show. In 2007, the new Broadway cast of Grease was chosen in this way on a series called “Grease: You’re the One that I Want.” Not a very original title.

There is also a new musical version of the classic novel and movie Gone with the Wind. The Trevor Nunn directed production stars Darius Danesh as Rhett Butler. Darius was seen on “Pop Idol” which is the British phenomenon that inspired “American Idol.” I wonder if the judges told him that he was “too theatrical” as Simon Cowell has been known to tell American contestants.

Perhaps the strangest if not the most ambitious show of all is the staging of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. It took three films of nearly three hours each to scratch the surface of the novels. I’m sure Rings purists are left wanting after only one 3 hour musical.

So…. if you are in West End or are planning a trip over the Atlantic, consider taking in one or more of these stage hits. Of course many times, today’s hits of London become tomorrow’s Broadway blockbusters and vice versa.

If Music Be The Food Of Love, Play On

This afternoon two communities who are usually big rivals came together to honor someone who has touched the lives of quite possibly every person who either lived in either town or attended school in Edgerton, Ohio. Emily Curtis grew up in Edon but has taught music in Edgerton for 27 years at all levels (junior high, high school, and, most recently, elementary). Last year, she was stricken with leukemia and is in Columbus at the medical facilities on the OSU campus undergoing treatment. Through it all, she has been the same tough, strong, stubborn woman she has been for at least 20 years. She has given so much to everyone not only in this area but worldwide. Since 09/11/01, she has spear-headed a Troop Care package program sending supplies to the armed forces in Iraq and all over the world. The program has sent tons of necessities and has received numerous plaques, letters, and medals for its generosity.

At the benefit, there were thousands of dollars worth of donated items in a silent auction. Ohio State and Michigan memorabilia, beautiful artwork, Edgerton apparel, too much stuff to even begin to describe. School children danced and sang. Mrs. Balser, who started her teaching career at Edgerton 40 years ago, has generously taken Mrs. Curtis position for the year. A second grader sang “Rainbow Connection” and sounded like he should have provided the voice of Kermit the Frog in the “Muppet Movie.”

There are just so many personal levels on which I could write about my experiences with Emily. She is one tough cookie and will push you until you have reached your potential. During my four years in high school, she arranged for the band to travel to Chicago to see Phantom of the Opera. We attended a performance of Annie in Toledo as we were just beginning to stage our own production. Speaking of our production of Annie, I originally auditioned for the role of Daddy Warbucks. The day after tryouts, I was called over the PA to report to the band room. “OH, LORD… what have I done now?” I was asked to read for the role of Rooster. Read a bit of dialogue, sing “Easy Street,” and CROW. Emily and the drama director told me then and there that I had nailed the role of Warbucks, but they thought I would do even better as the villain.

In November 2006, I played the part of Vinnie in The Odd Couple. This was the first time I had been in a non-musical play since 1991 Two people were instrumental in my decision to try out (aside from myself that is). I called Emily the night before auditions and asked her what she thought. She has told me for years that I need to let my light shine bright (among other things) and that she knew I would do well. And following the Sunday matinee, she told me “Who is it that has been telling you for years to stop limiting yourself?” Thanks Ma