"Wages of Sin" - Cleo Laine's and Chita Rivera's versions
November 18, 2013
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!