"Wages of Sin" - Cleo Laine's and Chita Rivera's versions

At heart, I'm not a soloist.  Of course, I performed a number of flute/piano pieces when I majored in music in college, but it's actually not what I enjoyed the most.  I love playing in ensembles - chamber ensembles, orchestras, etc.  I enjoy figuring out how and when to blend and when to pull away a bit - all the back and forth of playing with others.  With the singing I've done the last five years, both in musical theater and choir, I enjoy the same thing.  My favorite thing to sing is second soprano.  It has enough melody to be interesting and enough harmony to be fun.

This has always made auditions strange for me.  I have to sing a solo in order to sing with an ensemble.

I've been quite happy to sing in the chorus in musical theater.  Tomorrow, I'll be auditioning for Les Misérables.  I love the chorus parts in there, and I'd be so happy singing them.   I prefer singing them to any of the songs the leads sing.

There are only two musicals that I can think of that I would try out for an (approximately age-appropriate) main role in (I don't have the acting experience to actually get the roles, but they would be fun to do).  Interestingly Chita Rivera has played both parts.

One role is Princess Puffer in The Mystery of Edwin Drood.*  I've listened to the original soundtrack so much that, as I realized when listening to it today on the way to Broadway Dance, I not only know all the notes, harmonies, etc. - I also know where they take each breath.  

Cleo Laine has been one of my favorite singers since high school when I heard her version of Julie in the soundtrack to the British stage version of Showboat.  I love her version of Princess Puffer in Drood.

The other part of this post is that our weather has been like a roller coaster the last few weeks.  Really - if you look at the weather graph on WRAL (Raleigh TV), it's gone constantly, and dramatically, up and down.  We'll have a day in the 70's, like today, and a day around 50 (tomorrow).  The weather's effect on my sinuses, plus really bad allergies the last month, have done a lot of harm to my singing.  I started going hoarse this weekend, which knocks out both of the songs I've worked on for the audition.  When I go hoarse, I lose the top part of my singing range first so they're both too high now.  

I was very depressed about this yesterday.  I looked up "alto audition songs" because I can still sing in that part of my range (though I don't usually sing alto).  I considered All That Jazz, but I've danced that one so much that I can't sing it without dancing it too.

I'm even more nervous about auditioning than usual because this isn't the same community theater group I've been in before.  It's a totally new group for me (though I did see their Fiddler on the Roof in September).  They're going to have lots of people auditioning so I think my getting in the chorus is really a long shot.**  

Back when I decided to audition, though, part of the reason I decided was that I need a new challenge.  I haven't had this kind of a challenge, or one that made me this nervous, in years - possibly since my first musical theater audition four years ago; although I have had lots of challenges in the musicals.

No, actually, I taught the adult chorus the music the second summer I did musical theater.  That was as much of a challenge.

I decided last summer that it was time for another good challenge - whether I get in or not.

This morning, I was nervous and without a good audition song.  I needed something in the alto range that I knew really well and that I could act.  

I had joked a few weeks ago that Wages of Sin would be a good song to act, but I wasn't going to use it because it didn't use all of my range.  Well, I don't have all of my range now so it's a good choice.  

Here's Cleo Laine's version, which is the one where I know every note and phrasing ...

The Wages Of Sin (Princess Puffer) from Cleo Laine on Myspace.

... which is a little bit unfortunate because she changes some of the notes - like THE FIRST TWO!...

...which is why I've listened to Chita Rivera's version from the recent revival over and over again today:


*  I'm leaving the other for another post.  

** I think older son will get in because they'll need a lot of guys for this musical!

I finally chose an audition piece!

One of the local community theater groups - not the one I've been in before - is doing Les Misérables this winter.  It has been one of my favorite musicals since I got the record of the soundtrack - back in the early 90's.  I made a tape of the record and sang with it in the car over, and over, and over...

And I also read (and own) the unabridged two volume book.  

Auditions are in two weeks...

...minus one day.

I had been working on Unexpected Song from Song and Dance (since August).   

It's one of my (many) favorite Broadway songs.  It's been going well, singing-wise, but I finally saw the audition page on Facebook last week (it went up while we were on vacation, but Facebook changed the way they show things last month so I missed it when we got home).  The vocal audition is also an acting audition, and this isn't a song where I find it easy to show a lot of emotion.  You can, but it's more subtle acting, and I'm not good at that (yet).  

I freaked out last week!  I need a new song, three weeks before the audition (I've been working on Unexpected Song since August).  Since this is a group that I haven't auditioned for before, I'm even more nervous than I usually am (which is saying a lot!)!

First, I went through songs that we've used in Broadway Dance classes.  I'm used to doing those with expression.  I strongly considered Forget About the Boy from Thoroughly Modern Millie, but I also want a song that shows my singing range, and it doesn't.  

Eventually, I went through previous audition songs.  Four years ago, I auditioned with No Way to Stop It from the Broadway (not the movie) version of The Sound of Music.  I've always loved the way the melody dances around (and so does the flute):

I'll be singing from 0:52 to 1:54.  

I would LOVE SO MUCH to be in the chorus of Les Misérables!!!!!!!!!!

"Bottle Dance" - Fiddler on the Roof

In my review, yesterday, of the Burlington Gallery Players' production of Fiddler on the Roof, I forgot to mention the pit orchestra.  I know in the community theater productions that I've been in, I always really appreciate the musicians in the orchestra.  The cast members get to take a break occasionally, but the pit orchestra doesn't.  The musicians also don't get noticed as much because they're not onstage.  

The Fiddler (or at least one of them) was onstage as a character, and she did a great job, as did the pit orchestra.  It's easy in this production to pay more attention to the violins, but I also wanted to mention the clarinetist.  More than in any other musical I can think of, it's essential to have a good clarinetist for Fiddler on the Roof - and the Gallery Players do.  

Here's a clip of the Bottle Dance from the movie of Fiddler on the Roof.  At 1:00, you'll hear why an excellent clarinetist is essential - and also why I love the instrumental parts for this musical:

"Nice Work if You Can Get It" - Sting, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Fred Astaire, and a duet with Claude Bolling and Stephan Grapelli

Auditions for the summer musical are in a month and a half so it's time to pick out a piece.  I looked through some Broadway books, and Nice Work if You Can Get It is the song that stuck out this year.  The version I know best is Sting's from the album, The Glory of Gershwin:

Glory of GershwinVarious pop stars sing Gershwin songs on this album.  My favorite performances, besides Sting's are Carly Simon's I've Got a Crush On You, Cher's jazzy It Ain't Necessarily SoJon Bon Jovi's bluesy How Long Has This Been Going On, and one more, which gets a post of its own tomorrow.

Nice Work if You Can Get It was introduced by Fred Astaire in the 1930's musical Damsel in Distress, and it was also used in the 1992, Tony-winning musical Crazy for You.  Last night, I wandered around YouTube listening to different versions.  My favorites are Ella Fitzgerald's, Billie Holiday's, Sarah Vaughan's, Fred Astaire's, and this instrumental version by Claude Bolling and Stephane Grappelli:


Hoping to blog again

I actually have an evening with time to blog, and I don't even know where to start.  Christmas was wonderful - daughter was home for almost a month, older son was off from college, no major illnesses, and we had a great time.  Daughter didn't go back to college until after younger son's birthday on the 10th so January has actually felt shorter than usual.  Some of the weather has been really cold, and we had snow and sleet on two different weeks.  Today was beautiful with a high around 70 so I took a long walk this afternoon.

Dear husband and I took an anniversary trip for the first time in quite a while.  We were trying to decide between Blowing Rock, NC and Richmond, VA (both about the same distance).  That was the weekend of the snow so Blowing Rock would have been really pretty, but it was also going to be colder there, and there aren't as many things we do inside there.  If it got too cold in Richmond, there are lots of stores and museums.

It turns out that we didn't spend much time inside.  It got warm enough in the afternoons to go to Maymont Park and the Ginter Botanical Gardens.  I took lots of pictures (of course!), but my camera hasn't been working right lately so the photos will require a lot of fixing up.  The light meter has gone rather crazy, and the focus has a mind of its own.  The camera is now at a local repair shop, and I'm left with a sad and empty camera case.  I probably won't blog that many of the photos.  

I've had a number of bad doctor's appointments (including the worst one ever) having to do with my blood pressure, asthma, and allergies.  It's gotten to the point where my blood pressure goes up a day before a doctor's appointment because I'm dreading it, and it usually stays up for a week after because I'm so angry at how the appointment turned out.  I talked to my doctor about the way my blood pressure tracks with how tense I am,* and she agreed that I should see someone about better ways any way to handle stress.  Three doctor's appointments later, I still haven't found anyone in the regular health system who will help with that.  

However, I've been getting occasional massages for the last half year.  They're wonderful, and I slow down so much.  I really can focus on things and appreciate beauty for the next few hours after a massage - before I go back to normal.  Because it's so expensive, I alternate massages with voice lessons - which means that, if my voice isn't up to having a voice lesson, which happens all too often, I use the money for a massage instead.  My massage therapist actually also specializes, not surprisingly, in how the emotions affect the body so I'll be talking more to her about that next week (because I lost my voice (and voice lesson) last week).

RulerandCompassHome schooling is going wonderfully right now.  Younger son has gotten into programming in the last week.  He's also started enjoying math.  Along with the algebra he's doing, we've been doing the constructions from Ruler and Compass (for those of you familiar with homeschooling math books, although he liked the other Key to... books he found the Key to Geometry books boring).  I think younger son is past the worst of the past year's growth spurt, with the migraines and dizziness that went along with it.  He's got a lot more energy for things.  I'm glad because, even though we were still homeschooling, I felt like I missed him during his 13 yo hibernation year.  

Unfortunately, the second session of the Swing Dance class that Dear Husband and I were taking is on Sunday evenings so we aren't taking it.  On the happy side, the Broadway Dance class is back on Thursday evenings.  So far, we've done One from A Chorus Line and Forget About the Boy from Thoroughly Modern Millie.  

There are lots of posts I've thought of in the last month, but didn't have the time to write down (and edit, and edit...).  I will mention one thing from one of them:  I loved Les Misérables.  It's one of my (many) favorite musicals.  As I said to my kids at the theater, I've been waiting for this movie for about twenty years.  I did see a student production onstage, but I haven't ever seen a professional production before.  Were all the singers ideal?  No, but I think that, given the usual need for box office stars, they did a fantastic job, and they got the spirit of the musical.  


* Whereas, my bp hasn't changed at all when I've gained or lost weight or when I added lots of fruits and vegetables - and, now, I'm on to the low sodium thing.**  By the way, do you know that, if you feed three hungry guys taco salads with no salt at all, none of them will have their usual seconds, but two of them will be back in the kitchen later for snacks?

** Which means no soups in the cold parts of the winter because canned soups have so much sodium.  :(

"Raining in My Heart" by Bernadette Peters (and also what's been happening here)

I haven't really taken my netbook out of the house much - in fact, it's mostly taken up residence in younger son's room, because Minecraft, even slow-running on the netbook, is better than no Minecraft.  I brought it along this evening because I haven't blogged much lately - for a few different reasons.

Rehearsals for this summer's community theater production, Dames at Sea started four weeks ago, and we open two weeks from tonight.  They're rehearsing Raining in My Heart, which is one of my favorite songs in the entire, extremely fun, musical. 

Dames at Sea is a late 1960's homage to the big musicals of the 30's and 40's.  It has an ingenue, a wise-cracking chorus girl, a diva, romance, misunderstandings, reconciliations, a Nelson-Eddy/Jeanette MacDonald-style waltz, and, of course...

A wistful rain number. 

Although she started acting professionally at a young age, Bernadette Peter's performance as Ruby, the ingenue, made her a critically acclaimed star.  Here she is singing Raining in My Heart in concert:

Along with the musical, lots more has been going on here.  That's why I'm actually writing during a part of the rehearsal that I'm not involved in.  I don't blog in the evening because by the time I've got time, I'm too tired. 

Because photoblogging and the internet have gotten so slow on my six-year-old computer, we ordered a new computer for me in late May.  It's a computer specifically designed to handle Photoshop easily (apparently it's a memory hog of a program).   Dear husband has spent lots of time getting it set up for me!

Not this week, though - for such a happy reason!

Dear husband started his new job this week.  He started out working for a local company, which was eventually bought by a company in South Carolina, which was eventually bought by a company in Atlanta.  He's been going out-of-state to the company headquarters for over nine years now.  They closed the local office a few years ago so he's been working from home when he's not traveling.  His new company is headquartered in California, but he'll be spending most of his time at the local office. 

I'm so happy he'll be actually working with others at the office rather than always talking on the phone.  [Although, I already really miss having him home to talk to at lunch.]  Great company, great benefits, and he's got so much to learn.


We've been trying to get lots of stuff done around the house in the last two weeks because we knew we wouldn't have much time once rehearsals get into high gear and while he's trying to get up to speed at work. 

[They're still working on the harmonies so I'll go on to a book review of a book that has captivated me lately.]

Broadway Dance class: "Popular" from Wicked

Maybe I've gotten spoiled the last month in Broadway Dance.  First we did All That Jazz, and I already knew the choreography, then we did Steam Heat, which I also knew, and last week was Copacabana - also knew. 

I got there this evening to find that we were doing Popular from Wicked.  I have to learn new choreography?!  Had I gotten lazy in learning? 

I worried for a few seconds then I got into the new steps and had a wonderful time.  Actually, the hardest part was that we were supposed to be cutesy, and that's not at all what I am. 

Here's Popular sung by Glinda (Kristin Chenoweth) to Elphaba (Idina Menzel):