Thank you Andrew Llyod Webber
I got my wish this time. Yesterday was the first performance of my second song for the musical theater workshop I’m taking and this time I got a song gooey with emotion, “Close Every Door” from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. This is one of my favorite Webber shows and there was a period of about six or seven months my junior year of high school where I saw is a dozen times. The penultimate performance was with Donny Osman at the Masonic Temple Theater in Detroit. While the song is emotional and ripe with performance opportunities it is not of the gaggy sachrin type that permeates Phantom and Cats. I think it also helped that I suddenly got a new reading of the song as I read through for this performance.
This is not a sad song about being locked in prison and looking to the future for hope. It’s Joseph saying “Screw You” to his captors and nay sayors. He’s saying bring it on. You wanna throw me in a dungeon, keep me away from my family, charge me with bogus crimes? Fine. Bring it on. I don’t need you. I’m not important, I’m only a man. I’ve got somebody bigger on my side. You mess with me. You mess with my God. So this is the attitude I went into it with and I really had fun with it. I could see the audience reactions and they were getting into the song too. From the first song I sing, everybody in the class knew the song and I could see it in their eyes. They all had expectations for my performance and I think I brought a dimension to it that they may not have seen before.
My professor enjoyed it too, I think. I’m not in his inner sanctum of theater students and performers (like The Cute Brunette is) so I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I won’t get the kind of praise he gives them but I wanted to make sure I didn’t give him any ammo to blow me away with. He said he enjoyed my voice but that I wasn’t supporting properly and my body wasn’t in the performance. Well, this is not earth-shattering news to me. It’s a problem I’ve had since high school choir. I have rotten breath support but I have a strong voice and strong diaphram which carries the bulk of the weight.
If I had been pursuing this academically or professionally in the previous years I would have blown my voice long ago. Instead, I’ve kept it to a few community college theater performances and the occassional church solo so it’s in good shape. He did give me a few interesting exercises to help me make up for crappy support, the most interesting of which was having me high kick on the high notes. This was fun and took some of my attention away from the mechanics of the song and it did increase my breath support and some of the really high notes sounded fabulous. Short of being assigned “Kung Fu Fighting” though for my next song, I’m not sure how to translate that into my performance.
Fleshing out Thursday’s performance schedule were two girls who sang “Ladies of the Night” from Jeckyll and Hyde. The song is amazing and the girls did an amazing job with the song. Also, The Cute Brunette gave her second performance of her first song “If He Walked into my Life” from Mame. That’s right boys and girls; she sang an Angela Lansbury song. She did a great job too. While her voice isn’t one that will blow you away, she has one of those faces and bodies that are so expressive and fun to watch she could be doing anything. She’s also the lead in the school’s performance of Stephen Sondheim’s “Anyone Can Whistle” next month so that will be fun to watch. Next on my theater schedule is “The Music Man” at Ypsilanti High School next weekend where my friend is directing the pit band.