Years ago, nearly twenty, I started auditioning for community theater plays, and I got cast in a few. Then I started auditioning for musicals. Over and over again I auditioned, and left knowing I would not get the part. I had totally flubbed all the musical auditions because I was terrified, literally terrified, to sing where people could hear me. Not a good thing if you want to be in a musical.
But whenever I saw someone on stage, belting out a tune while acting, I would think "That must feel so good! I wish I could sing."
The day finally came when I decided to learn to sing. I was in my mid-fifties.
Five or more years of weekly voice lessons later, I still could not land a part with a solo. Thinking that I needed some performance experience before my next audition, I got up to sing at a small jazz club's open mic. That first time, I sang too quietly, had no idea how to use the mic so that there was a lot of feedback, and ordered a shot of tequila when I was done, I was so freaked out. But that was the beginning. Since then, I have sung often at open mics, mostly jazz tunes, and I finally know how to keep an audience interested. Basically, the trick is to enjoy the sounds you are making yourself, and to let the song sing itself. Sounds so simple, but it took me over ten years of diligently going to lessons and getting up to sing in public to learn how.
Last October, I was cast in a play, Sleepy Hollow, and was given a duet to sing. I managed to pull that one off.
I was in another musical, Give My Regards To Broadway, this past weekend. There are not a lot of parts in plays for little old ladies, and this play was no exception. I ain't no chorus girl! But the producer and director really wanted me in the play, so they wrote me in. And they gave me a solo to sing, I Can't Give You Anything But Love. A jazz tune!!
They let me figure out how to integrate a jazz tune into a play with several patriotic tunes, such as Yankee Doodle Dandy, You're a Grand Old Flag, and of course, Give My Regards to Broadway.
This is the first time I ever had a solo in a musical.
My character in this play was pretty much up to me, because she's not really in the play. I got to goof around and come up with my character's reason for being there, and breaking out into a jazz tune, myself. There were a couple lines to suggest that my character, Judy as stage manager, wanted to be in a musical, but the director would not put her on the stage because he needed her on crew.
When my big scene came up, and the music started, I began as if my having to sing was unexpected, that it was my first time singing in public, and that I was terrified.
I started by singing too quietly. I made a gesture to suggest that someone in the audience had told me to sing louder, and I then sang too loudly, producing a bit of feedback. Then Judy shook out her anxiety, got into the groove with a smile, went on to sing beautifully, and ended with a bang on the final line "I can't give you anything but love." I even choreographed the second half, and was up on that stage, all by myself, singing and dancing and rocking the house!
My character's dream had come true.
So had mine.
I do not have a single picture to show you of this play! So the thumb is one of me as the Duchess of Cornwall giving my son Richard III a good hard shove, and was taken by Diana Green.