Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Recovering soprano
When people ask me if I'm an Alto or a Soprano, I give them the quick answer, "Alto." But that's really not the truth and it certainly isn't the full story. 

Any qualified vocal coach will listen to me sing and pronounce me a Soprano. So, technically ... yes, I'm a Soprano. And yes, when I have the proper warm-up and remember breath support, I can hit those silly high notes. But I consider myself a recovering soprano. 

I had the privilege of singing with the Cathedral Choir of the Basilica of Saint Mary in Minneapolis for about 12 years. And for the first four years, I sang Soprano.

Honestly, sometimes being a Soprano is boring. You usually sing the melody, so picking up a new piece of music isn't as much work for you. Occasionally, you would be given unnaturally high, soaring notes to sing and the listeners would oo and ah, but that was sort of the extent of 'work.'  But then there is the diva personality that many Sopranos possess (or maybe it possess them). While I love my Soprano sisters, I have low Diva tolerance. AND if you put lots of Sopranos together, sometimes a diva-mob-mentality shows up. 

I hit maximum overload after four years with the choir and asked (begged) the choir director to allow me to join the Altos. I wanted the challenge of singing one of the inner voices. The next choir season, at the first rehearsal when everyone stands up to introduce themselves, I identified myself as a 'recovering soprano.' Some friends were ticked off at me for going to the other side and I was no longer invited to gatherings. While I supposed that was meant to snub me, it just proved my point. On the flip side, my Alto sisters welcomed me warmly into the fold. 

So why am I bringing this all up now? At last night's Annie rehearsal, I had to be the stand-in for the role of Grace. I thought I was just doing the lines, but then when the music started, it was, "Sing!" And since the role of Grace is really meant for a Soprano, I had some nasty flashbacks. 

I guess I experienced a moment of PSSD - Post-Soprano-Stress-Disorder. I'm sure I just need to channel middle C for an hour or so to re-find my center. 

Monday, June 23, 2014

I think I can dance

There's nothing to make you feel old than to have your dance partner/choreographer mention that he wasn't even born the last time you did a show. (My last ACT show The King & I was 1990 and Dylan, the choreographer, is 20.)

Don't get me wrong, I love doing it and I WILL do it. But I'm sure it is this reason that I have to ice my right knee each night after rehearsal.

Most people, after seeing my uber-smooth dance moves, are shocked to learn that the full extent of my dance training consists of one year of ballet class in high school and the tap dance lessons I received when I did Anything Goes in 1988. Oh, and having a best friend who was a dancer and taught me the five basic ballet positions.

My understanding of choreography comes from ice skating - carriage, extension, timing, footwork, etc. So each time Dylan uses a dance term, I ask him to demonstrate it and my skating brain converts it to something I understand. Not everything converts, so I have to make up names for moves that provide me with a visual cue, such as the 'crab crawl.' And I'm sure my knee would be happier if I was gliding on ice instead of hopping up and down on 2" heels.

The dance number is 'Easy Street' and there are three of us - Dylan who is playing Rooster, Cheyenne (Lily) and me (Miss Hannigan) - who are singing and dancing. 'Easy Street' is also the only song/dance that Dylan does in the show, so it's Dylan's single opportunity to show his stuff. (Can't blame him) However, I keep watching the other songs in the show to see if he's giving the other actors choreography beyond moving from one side of the stage to the other. (The orphans 'Hard Knock Life' doesn't count - their average age is like 9.)

So, now you have to come to the show. Why? Because now you're curious to see my 'crab crawl.'

Saturday, June 21, 2014

On Broadway

Way back in Spring 2013, when I was trying to make my decision about moving back to my hometown, I had a conversation with one of my best friends, Jessie. (Going Home)

In weighing all the pros and cons, the tipping point came when we talked about being involved with the community theater again. That's when it became a no-brainer.  The two of us, having been friends since 1988 when we met during the Albert Lea Community Theater production of Anything Goes, toasted the obvious decision.

I didn't, however, go knock on the stage door right away. In fact, my first audition was last month (ten months after moving back) and I had told very few people that I was going to try out. The role I wanted was Miss Hannigan in the musical, Annie.

The toughest part of the audition is always walking through the door and, this one was made tough by the fact it had been over 25 years since my last audition. I must have done okay since on Memorial Day I got the call that I had the part.

The next evening was the first read through and a good portion of time was spent going through introductions. When I introduced myself, I told them how my first role in an ACT production was an orphan in Oliver in 1972 and that my last play was the King & I in 1990. I explained that I had moved back to Albert Lea after a 20-year temporary absence, but that 'this place was one of the reasons I moved back.' I had missed it.

We're about three weeks into rehearsals and we open in less than a month (July 17). It had been so long since I had to memorize lines, I googled it. (heck, the last time I had to memorize lines there was no Google to google.)

You know what's been great? It's been 20+ years, but I'm not a stranger. Figuring out the costumes has made me smile more than a couple of time. Mostly because of the three people I've been able to work with - Barb Lang, Rosalie Truax and Glen Parsons. Three people who have known me for years and years - Barb since I was a toddler and Glen was my fifth grade teacher.

This is going to be a blast!!!