I sang in a concert yesterday. It's a small fundraiser at a church in Bayside, Queens that is the brainchild of my friend Kevin B. Winebold, a marvellous musical director. He is so marvellous that he is leaving this week to send some time playing piano for Ringling Bros Circus.
He gathers a few performy friends together and has us sing Broadway numbers and they raise money for various causes, some in the city and some from the rest of the World.
It's a nice fun occasion, I did it last year too and there were many familiar faces and we had a nice reunion. I sang three songs - Suddenly Seymour from Little Shop of Horrors in a duet with the delightful Mike who I met about two hours before performance. Screw Loose which is my go-to for all occasions and As Long As He Needs Me from Oliver which I've never sung in a performance setting before.
Iiiii'm not going to lie...I kind of sucked. I did the run-throughs fine but boy oh boy oh my did my voice crack a LOT in performance. Suddenly Seymour was the worst - there's a lot of money notes, which I can usually get no problem - but as I got to 'suddenly Seymour...shows me I CAAAAAAN' I was think no I cannot, I cannot because it just never came out right.
What can you do? Nothing really, it's not a huge deal in fact it's kind of funny how awful it sounded. Kind of like how this is funny
Mine wasn't quite this bad at least...but it goes to show it happens to even the best!
Suddenly Seymour did not go well, live and learn. Screw Loose I have done so many times that I could do it in my sleep, and it's a funny song on it's own you don't have to make it funny. People always enjoy it, it has funny lyrics, I do lap steel air guitar, I pull faces - it's an entertaining number so it always goes down well.
Two down, and As Long As He Needs Me to go. Well, this was pretty awesome for me. I don't know if it was awesome for everyone else - maybe it didn't sound that good, maybe I cracked here too, whatever. For me, it was very special because I had sort of a moment. Bear with me as I go down the path of cheesy actor spiel that I hate so much...
So there I am singing away. 'He doesn't say the things he should. He acts the way he thinks he should. But all the same I'll play this game his way...as long as he needs me I know where I must be, I'll cling on steadfastly as long as he needs me. As long as life is long, I'll love him right or wrong and somehow I'l be strong as long as he needs me'
And I don't know exactly what it was. I'm going to say a combination of those heartrending lyrics, the melody that somehow evokes resignation and hope at the same time, and simply where the song sits in my voice - low, and in a good place for encouraging a 'cry tone' (a sort of soulfulness that is quite common in female English alto-mezzos) I don't know what it was but as I started in on the 'as long as he needs me' I felt myself almost welling up, the singing became really effortless and I didn't have to think about making good acting choices because it was just sort of happening.
Actors, teachers and directors like to talk about 'living' when acting - that is, you've connected with the character, understood their perspective, figured out how they would handle a situation based on what you know about them, you take all that information and internalise it and then you just GO. I had a really amazing moment of living during this song, and when I sat down having finished I just thought 'wow. That's what it is - that's that thing that I want and that I love about live theatre.'
It has been a long time since I experienced that - because I haven't been performing a lot in the last few months, because I've had a hard time with all the visa crap, and because I let it all get to me so much, so it really couldn't have come at a better time. It gave me a nice confidence boost and a reminder of why I want to do what I do.
Actor speech over. Eugh. I went to an audition for Fiddler on the Roof today (is everything I do in NY going to be somehow Jewish? We'll see!) and at the moment am in the library working the daily grind - submissions, emails, castings, job listings...the good stuff.
In other news, the UWS comes through with the good advice
Probably shouldn't have taken this picture while walking Yahli the 8 year old home from school.
And the A Team is back in business. Now with more words including: NO, why?, COME! (to the dog) SHAAAAY (somewhere between sit and stay, also aimed at the dog), hola, monkey, done and cool!
Could you just die