When we had a gig for The Neil Simon Players a few weeks ago I was doing a mic check and a few of the patrons were in the room while I sang into each mic.
I sang a few lines from a King and I song and then we started our show. After the show a woman came up to me and said that she wished I had shared my voice with the crowd. Only a few people were still milling around, but I asked her if she wanted me to sing a song. She said yes. so I sang You’ll Never walk alone from Carousel. She and the others in the room loved it, so I sang Climb Every Mountain from The Sound of Music.’
Afterwards she told me that those were her two favorite songs. (Aren’t they all of our favorite songs?) This experience was so gratifying that I asked Richard if would be OK for me to prepare a set of Golden Oldies to share as an alternative set with our patrons. He said to go for it.
I think a side of me was wishing he had said no.
I am so much more comfortable as a Director than as a performer.
Performing solo work is one of the most nerve wracking experiences possible.
Add to the mix my lung problems, a high altitude city (5,800 ft), a general terror that my voice is not good enough, and the constant visual in my mind that I am just deluding myself like the character Mary in Pride and Prejudice, utterly clueless about my own limitations.
For those of you not in the singing world, breath support is the key to holding long phrases and singing the high notes. When you are befuddled by Asthma AND Hypoxia and need to be on Oxygen supplementation a good portion of the day like I am and utterly refuse to wear the tubes while performing, a perfect storm of low oxygen saturation coupled with the altitude forces me to take sips of air ALL THE TIME.
This is not a big deal when you sing in a choir as you have other voices to fill in the gaps. But when singing as a soloist, it makes the songs sound choppy and breathy.
Death to the song.
Hopefully most of my gigs will be in St George which is 3,000 feet lower than Cedar and I actually sound like a singer…
I told my pals on The Neil Simon Board of Directors about this plan to sing the oldies as a set, not really informing them that I had about a years worth of rehearsing and memorization that still needed to happen before I would be ready for a 90 minute show. My friend Dave mentioned that he felt my songs would be perfect for the Honor Flight crowd.
Well, the Honor Flight might be ready for me, but I only had two weeks to prepare, and only four songs memorized.
After freaking out for a couple days, I realized that I only needed to sing the songs that I already had memorized and that we had options in terms of what show we did.
When I talked to the gentleman organizing the event I explained to him the show that I envisioned with lots of different songs from our team of players.
He said it sounded perfect.
So I still have the sense of having been thrown into the deep end of the pool and swimming frantically to stay afloat, but I am determined to give these songs my best shot.
Last night I decided to tape myself singing the set into my phone. I use this tactic with my vocal performance students. as a way for them to self critique.
As I watched the videos today, I was mostly mortified by what appeared on my You Tube Channel.
At this point the only thing that is keeping me going is the look in the eyes of those people who I sang for a couple weeks ago and the joy I felt singing to them.
As I told my daughter Shelly today, I have to start somewhere…
The Utah Honor Flight
The Honor Flight program takes veterans back to Washington D.C. free of charge to see the memorials. They will be taking about 25 local WWII and Korean War veterans back to D.C. in June.
Here is more about this event from a recent article in the Spectrum:
Early in the morning June 4, 30 veterans of World War II and the Korean War Veterans from Iron County will once again answer the call as they board a bus from the Leavitt Hangar at the Cedar City Airport from which they will deploy to Las Vegas for their departure to Washington D.C. for a two-day stay to visit the WWII memorial along with others in the National Mall.
The veterans depart Cedar City on a Thursday and return on Saturday after raising the flag over Fort McHenry that morning.
With the help of Dennis Robison, an Air Force veteran from Cedar City and Ron Lewis, a retired Navy captain living in New Harmony, the Iron County Honor Flight will take wings for the first time.
“We were initially looking for 15 veterans because that is the amount you need to sponsor an Honor Flight,” said Robison of this Iron County Group. “The response when we were looking just mushroomed on us. We have 30 on the flight now.”
The Players will provide the bulk of the entertainment for the families and community members who will greet the vets as they return to the Leavitt Hanger on Saturday June 6th.
I cannot even put into words how excited I am that my little group is going to do this gig.
So happy to do it!
It was such an honor to provide the entertainment for the Honor Flight Party. I bore my testimony today in our Sacrament Meeting and talked about how it was such a blessing to be able to use my singing to serve those who had served our nation.
It really does not get much better than that. (OK, OK, I admit, singing lullabies to my babies trumps all singing gigs, but this was definitely a close second.)
Our soloist from the Neil Simon Players came down with a nasty chest cold and had to bail at the last minute. I offered some serious prayers on his behalf, but he did not recover fast enough, so I had to step in and sing the final two songs.
I was so nervous about singing Homeward Bound to an accompaniment track that was for a tenor, that I asked my son Jeff to sing it with me. He had about 24 hours to learn it and I think he did a pretty good job.
I bawled during the final number, God Bless America, and asked the crowd to help me sing and it was a nice way to end the evening. I was so choked up from seeing all of our vets get off that bus, that to sing was just about all I could do. It was late, I was tired, and I gave it my best shot.
I was a little befuddled by having to play sound tech while singing. That is why I kept holding the phone while I sang. I did not want to finish a song and allow the tracks to end and go into the next song. It was distracting to me, but the crowd was gracious and still managed to applaud despite my wearing several different hats while we performed.
I was so pleased that our Neil Simon Players Alex and Samae Allred joined us for a fifteen minute set and my class from the Kimber Academy danced several dances that I taught during class. It helped to have some variety. I also sang a couple more songs that we did not capture on video. Three little girls holding flags came up and danced around while I sang that set. They were so cute.
My amazing daughter Shelly played the roll of “I will do everything Mom cannot do today” which translated into her fixing supper (and bringing us a packed lunch), setting up the tables, chairs, taking some photos, and setting up some of the sound equipment, driving me to the gig, and watching the homefront (and Ben) while I rocked it out at the gig.
She also came back afterwards and packed up all of the equipment, took everything home, lugged it into the house, and fed the three people I keep house for.
Another misnomer because she does almost all of the shopping, laundry, home health care for Elaine – which includes taking her blood pressure three times a day and driving her to all of her doctor, dentist, hair, and pharmacy trips- and she gardens, takes Sammy for his morning walk, takes Ben to soccer and the Library, and is just an all around joy and delight.
Whenever you see these musical theatre posts on my blog, just know that none of these endeavors would have been possible the past three years without Shelly’s help. I have been so consistently ill for over ten years, with chronic low energy, multiple hospitalizations, and a variety of lung, emotional, and digestive ailments, that stepping out and performing and directing is only possible with huge amounts of help at home.
I still spend most of my days sick in bed and drag myself out and get dressed to run rehearsals, home school Ben, and do these occasional shows. Both Paul and Shelly have agreed that doing theatre is key to my mental health and so they are both highly supportive of me bringing in a few bucks now and again doing theatre. (We earned three dollars, two loaves of sourdough bread, and a jar of jam for this gig!)
Musical Theatre is also WAAAAY cheaper than therapy and since we have not had health insurance for the past few years, there is no way I am going to yank a hundred bucks out of our limited family budget to go talk to my therapist.
A couple times this past year I was sorely tempted to make an appointment with her, but we are just barely scraping by and yakking about my problems with a trained therapist is a luxury we simply cannot afford.
This post is an amalgam of three posts I wrote in 2015 when I was revving up my Musical Theatre Career.
The most meaningful gig I have ever done was organizing the entertainment for that Cedar City Utah Honor Flight.
I love to perform these professional gigs and working as an Entertainment Director has just been pure fun, but my all time favorite music is the tunage that is crafted in our home.