Thursday, July 2, 2009


Tonight I filled in for a friend in a role in the Mini Musical Festival; it did not go well. As I've mentioned before, it's just a 10 to 15 minute show and not difficult or a very big deal, but any performance requires a certain amount of preparation and resources that I was not given. As a result, tonight was embarrassing!

This show has 8 characters, which is a lot for such a short piece. The character I'm filling in for this weekend is one of three chorus women who are almost always onstage, either as factory workers or roadies with a band. A huge frustration is that we didn't receive actual music. I read music! I need to read music. Three of the male lead's songs were written and then the chorus had to write in where we sometimes echo or "ooooo" along with him and basically pick a note to harmonize. It's easy music so that part actually isn't the issue.

What sucks is that the show opens with the three of us onstage and over the canned accompaniment we sing a few lines, then speak a few, and so on. The first two lines of the show are sung, by my character.

Let me back up a bit... Last week I went to a rehearsal; the friend I'm filling in for couldn't be there until the end, so I assumed they'd go over music with me. Well, since there isn't sheet music that didn't happen, I just sort of watched and tried to figure out where my character fit in. I got up and learned a bit of the blocking, but it wasn't a very structured rehearsal and they were also breaking in a new male lead who was taking over the end of the run. When my friend arrived I watched her do a couple scenes, then watched the entire festival last Sunday afternoon.

Last night I went to my friend's place to go over more of the blocking, the dance moves and the music. However, she had never actually practiced with the accompaniment CD she'd been given. When she popped it in she realized that since it was given to her, they'd changed the keys of all the songs! So, I had no sheet music and incorrect canned music...

After Sunday's show the composer said he'd email me about a rehearsal. He had not. Thursday night I emailed him and he said they'd "try to get everyone together at 6:30 to run through it" before the festival began at 8 p.m. Well, that didn't happen tonight. My cast mates rolled in between 7 and 7:15, and no one was concerned. I wasn't tremendously concerned myself, but rather a bit annoyed.

Really? The person with the first fucking line is going to go on in front of a sold-out house without so much as a run through?

We talked through things, but I kept reminding people, even though I've seen the show and I understand what you're telling me, that's very different than actually, physically doing it on stage! We finally walked through a few scenes in the parking lot, no props, no music.

Okay, so those who know me well know that I love to sing; I'm a well trained singer, but HATE kareoke. Does that sound odd? I can't stand canned music and I can't always find my pitch from that weird computer generated noise they call accompaniment. Well, that's how tonight was. I counted and came in at the right moment, but my pitch was off. Gee I wonder why... because I hadn't heard the actual song in the correct key since Sunday, when I was an audience member, perhaps? I was quickly able to get the the right melody, but my next line was a measure early and then a cast mate covered my next spoken line, since I was obviously all fucked up!

It's just embarrassing because I'm so much better than that. I should have known better than to think it would just fall into place. That doesn't happen; art is a difficult discipline. Performing is so much harder than people think. I'm amazing and I love it, but the easier a performer makes it seem, the more time they've probably put into it!

Apparently, the woman I'm replacing was the glue of the cast, as later in the show everyone forgot to sing the first two lines of a group number. The director mentioned another place where something similar happened, but I don't remember where... Not all the props were correctly preset, the scene changes were sloppy, it was simply a disaster!

You probably can't tell by everything I've just written, but I do really like everyone in the show and the festival. The composer is amazingly sweet, the director is really cool, the cast is fun, but... There's just no excuse for a TEN minute show to be such a train wreck.

I am embarrassed and I want to take responsibility for my part, but I don't feel like I have the resources to do that! I mean, without sheet music or the correct key on the cd, what am I supposed to do? Tomorrow I will insist that we do the first number, with the music, on the stage before the house opens. Past that, the six people who have actually been doing the show for three weekends now really need to get their shit together!

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