Sunday, October 24, 2010


The more I think about it, the more I am disappointed with myself for my performance last night.

I sang in public for the first time in two years. I was very excited to be on stage again. I really wanted to do this. Although I had some songs in mind I had wanted to try out, I accepted one that the director requested. Beggars can't be choosers. I know the Harrison Players haven't been 100% happy with my behind-the-scenes participation in events and meetings recently. I should be lucky they still want me in productions at all.

The song was called, The Boy From... (more specifically from Tacarembo La Tumbe Del Fuego Santa Malipa Zecatate La Junta Del Sol Y Cruz). It's a send-up of The Girl From Ipanema. The song's narrator is enamored with the boy in question and just doesn't get that he's obviously gay. ("Why are his trousers vermillion...Why do his friends call him 'Lillian'?") It was funny, really funny. It should have raised a few chuckles from the audience.

The song ended and I received blank stares and polite applause (except for the applause coming from the table containing my family of course). Did anyone get it? Did they know what the song was about? I asked Kevin. He said no. I asked him if my diction was okay (as a former student of the late Prof. Stites, diction is my specialty!) and he said yes. He just didn't get the song. My mother said she got what the song was about, but she didn't find it especially funny. I asked my father if he understood what the song was about and he just said, "Was it supposed to be The Girl From Ipanema?"

Clearly something was lost in translation. Maybe the lack of reaction to the song had to do with some of my flubbed notes. The melody could be complex at times (and the lyrics were a tongue twister to boot) with some very strange key changes (!@#% Sondheim!) I know I needed more than 3 sessions with the music director to learn it properly. I'm not that much of a musical genius to pick it up that quickly. There were some points in the song where I sounded downright awful and off-key.

What's worse though is that I didn't really sell it. The audience wasn't seeing the humor because I just wasn't projecting it properly. I couldn't convince the audience that it was funny. I was angry with the audience intially for not understanding the song. Now I realized I should be angrier with myself for not properly conveying the meaning of the song. I tried going my usual dramatic route in the first rehearsals. The director said it was much funnier if I did it totally deadpan. I'm not good at deapan. I admit that. I like to do things larger than life. I tried to restrain myself, but I don't think I did a good job. I wasn't singing from the point of view of a woman truly perplexed about why the object of her affection doesn't feel the same way and is missing the obvious signs. I didn't do it. I couldn't do it. It didn't work. I failed.

Maybe I should have insisted that I stay with a song I know I can sell. I can sing the crap out of songs like Cabaret or I Got Rhythm. I had suggested singing Look What Happened to Mabel, a song I haven't performed before, but I have been dying to perform partially because it's so perfect for my voice. I was on fire dancing to that one in my recital 3 years ago, so I know how the song feels to me (too bad I looked like a dancing sausage in costume). The director clearly wanted this song performed. I volunteered when they asked me if I would. He thought it was funny. He took a chance on my ability to perform it. In a way I feel I let him down.

The whole show was a bit disheartening to me. There were so many beautiful voices performing last night. These young women with the voices of angels - the sweetest, most melodious sorpranos imaginable, who drew thunderous applause after every song - made me sound more like an angry cat every time I opened my mouth. I wished I could have a voice so easy on the ears. I'm actually a soprano myself, but my top notes are shrill and screechy. No one wants to hear them unless they need support for the choir. Otherwise Rachel needs to keep the caterwauling to herself.

What's the solution? Should I be more demanding with what I sing in the future? Should I pick songs that I know I can sell?

Maybe playing it safe is the wrong way to go.

Perhaps I've gone so extreme with the loud, brassy character songs that it has all become too unpleasant and over the top. I may never sound very sweet, but maybe I should at least attempt to be sweeter. Maybe I should work on the ballads. A few years ago I was on a cruise and sang Dido's White Flag on a karaoke night. Kevin said the audience was transfixed. I bought the karaoke CD for myself and took it to singing class last spring. I mentioned to the teacher that the emotions expressed in that song bring me back to another time in my life - they express how I felt the first time something male ever broke my heart. The teacher felt I should explore this type of singing more. She felt I should make a bigger attempt to connect with those feelings and stop trying to put on a show.

I think that's the problem right there. I don't sing to connect to feelings. I do sing to put on a show. I love to perform because I want to be the center of attention. I want to scream, "LOOK AT ME," and if they're not looking I feel like a failure.

Sining class starts again for me this week. I think it's back to the drawing board for me.

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