Monday, July 18, 2011

On the Line No More

Yesterday marked the closing performance of All Shook Up. I've spent the past six weeks sweating my butt off (literally -- I've lost about 20 pounds this summer) dancing, singing, and having a pretty tremendous experience. I'm sorry the show is over because it was a lot of fun, but I'm not all that sorry to get a little more free time in a summer that ended up being much busier than I had initially planned.

As I've mentioned in previous posts about this show, this was an opportunity for me to face a lot of fears and overcome them one by one. I sang for an audition, I danced, and a couple weeks ago, I added another big fear obstacle -- I was asked if I would sing a the show. Over the course of the rehearsal process, I had grown a lot more comfortable singing. (I credit our very kind and gifted music director.) And so I found myself agreeing to take on this solo. During rehearsals, I was actually pretty comfortable with that. I only had three bars where I was truly "solo" (and yes, it was three bars that started off a whole song, but again, only three bars). It was a song I already knew ("Heartbreak Hotel"), so I didn't have to worry about learning something new. I kept the solo thing kind of quiet -- I told a friend or two but didn't tell my sister or anyone else. A lot of people in the cast knew how the prospect of a solo terrified me and were so supportive that it just didn't seem like a big deal.

Until opening night.

About noon (seven hours before opening), it suddenly dawned on me that this was real -- I was going to be singing all by myself in front of an audience. I had to start off a whole song -- a kind of important song -- OMG HOW WAS I GOING TO DO THIS?!?!? By about six, my stomach was in knots, there was the slight woosh of nausea whenever I thought about getting onstage. I felt as if all the color was gone from my body. Maybe I was high on the massive amounts of hair spray that had been pumped onto my hair, but I know stage fright and that's what I had -- big time. I told our director (who played my husband in Plaza Suite a little over a year ago) that I had never been this nervous before, not even in Plaza Suite when I had 30 pages of dialogue, never left stage, and was onstage alone with these little monologues two or three times.

But what could I do other than swallow it down, channel that fear into the energy it really is, and get my butt onstage and sing those three solo bars? And that's what I did. And once I sang those three bars and the rest of the chorus joined in, I swear I could literally feel the nerves floating up into the lights and leaving me so that for the rest of the run, I was fine and couldn't wait to get back onstage.

So what will I take away from this experience? A bunch. I learned that singing in public isn't really so bad. Maybe I'll take a crack at it again someday. (Although not next summer -- I'm not Pirates of Penzance ready.) I learned that dancing is hard but that eventually, you kind of get the hang of things. I learned that my students are as terrific to work with onstage as they are to direct. I learned that standing on the same stage that Fanny Brice once performed on is pretty freakin' amazing. And I learned that being in the final couple of months before 40 doesn't mean you still can't have late nights, dance hard, sing harder, and enjoy yourself. (Just look at the fun I am clearly having in the picture that accompanies this post!) You just might hurt a little more in the morning.

1 comment:

NICKI said...

Next time, try not to think of it as a solo - I was in a play, basically just comic relief as a maid who ran through the stage at odd times. At one point I was hypnotized and began singing a song...all these people told me what a great voice I had, but I just thought of it as a line. If I had realized it was a solo, I'd have been terrified!!