Archive for the 'Singing' Category

Summer Study

Tuesday, August 22nd, 2017

During the rehearsal break for Sweeney Todd, I decided to attend a couple of training courses.  The first one was a Level 1 & Level 2 Estill Vocal Course.  This was a wonderfully practical course that was very well structured.  I imagine it will take me a long time to master the things I was taught, but I will practice once I get back to Tokyo.  I am very happy that I went as it’s been a long time since I felt that anything I was doing vocally was going to significantly improve my voice.  It also gave me insight into what I need to do in order to help other people with their voices.

I attended a course on Directing for Theatre at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.  This course was not as structured as the vocal course and there was a lot of it that I already knew.  It was good, however, to consolidate the information I had learned before and to get to see other people direct.  Directing does seem to be one of those things you can only learn from doing and from watching others.  I have plans to direct a musical next year, so hopefully I’ll be able to use some of the things I learnt.

The Journey Ends

Monday, May 23rd, 2016

It’s the morning after the last performance of Big River.  I’m in that post performance daze where it seems hard to believe that 6 months of work is over.

There were many new experiences and challenges working on this project, but the stand out thing was the people I worked with.  I was incredibly impressed by the director, stage manager, and the production team.  It made such a difference working with people who had a strong vision for the show and were competent in facilitating that.  I loved how the cast worked together.  We had a story to tell and everyone helped each other tell it.  There was a lot of love and support and a real feeling that we wanted each other to succeed and perform to the best of our ability.  It was also a joy working with the incredibly talented musicians.

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed working with costume and wardrobe.  My sewing skills are basic, but I did manage to make my own costumes and some other pieces.  I discovered that ironing costumes in the theatre before the rest of the cast arrived really helped with the anxiety I feel before performing.  Actually, all the costume work did.  Having cast members come to me because they had lost their hat or their apron gave me something to think about other than the fact that I was going to have to perform in front of an audience.  I don’t do well if I have to sit still.

Acting with an American accent was a challenge.  I have no idea if I was any good at it, but I tried.  One of my friends who came to see the show appeared stunned by my performance saying that they had no idea who that woman was on the stage, but she wasn’t me.  I’m going to take that as a compliment as I’m not an old, American, shrewish spinster.

The Opening Number

Photo of “Do Ya Wanna Go to Heaven”, by Teruaku Ito

It was the first time I was involved in dramaturgy as I wrote a short piece on the historical context of the play for the program.  I didn’t know what the word “dramaturgy” meant when I was first asked to do this, but I was happy to try and I did enjoy researching the history of the 1840s in America.

So for now I will find a place to keep all the lovely notes and mementos I received and I’ll take a break from theatre.  It may be the end of my journey down the river, but it’s much too soon to know which parts of my own journey are only beginning.

Big River

Thursday, May 5th, 2016

I have been busy rehearsing as part of the ensemble cast of Big River.  The musical opens on the 19th May, so not long to wait now.  The city is getting warmer and I am finding it hard dancing in layers of clothing in hot rooms.  It will be hot on stage, so I will just have to get used to it.  I am so glad that during the performance each dance only happens once, unlike rehearsal where the point is to keep doing them until they are right.

It’s been fascinating doing theatre work again as technology has changed so many things.  Now rehearsals are organised with web-based project management tools.  Nearly every cast member is carrying a device capable of recording the rehearsal.  Choreography steps are videoed so you can review them at home.  There are apps to help you run lines.  And microphones are everywhere.  I’m not completely thrilled about the microphones, as it changes vocal technique, but I love most of the other changes.  Now if we just had air conditioners that didn’t dry out the throat…


Passing Time

Saturday, November 14th, 2015

November is passing quickly.  Sweeney Todd rehearsals have eaten up most of my spare time and will continue to do so for a few weeks yet.  I have finished making my costumes so that should free up some time.  I had hoped to crochet and knit some presents for Christmas, but I haven’t even started on that.  The other November time eater is NaNoWriMo – my annual attempt at writing 50,000 words of fiction in 30 days.  I’m on target for finishing on time with 25,004 words written.

Working on Sweeney Todd

Tuesday, September 15th, 2015

Earlier this year I agreed to take part in a musical theatre class.  I don’t find it easy to meet people in Tokyo and I thought that this would be a fun way of doing that.  I’m not sure that the class is fulfilling those goals but it’s certainly a challenge. It’s been a while since I did any stage work.  It would have been easier to have started in the chorus but I’m working on the role of Mrs. Lovett from Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd.  She is quirky and sings fast paced songs that are very wordy.  The songs aren’t beautiful.  I have very few good melodies to sing, but they are witty.

I was a little concerned about her accent as she is from the East End of London.  But my American musical director doesn’t mind me using my own accent as he can’t easily differentiate between British and Irish accents.  (I know, I sound nothing like a Londoner).  Sweeney has the advantage in that he is from the East End.  I can sing in the accent, but I’m not comfortable speaking in it.  So my songs will have a flavour of the accent, as if someone from Belfast moved to London and picked up some of the glottal stops and vowel sounds from the people around them and maybe lost the letter “h”.

I have spent most of this afternoon practising for tomorrow’s rehearsal.  I’ve been singing to myself and an imaginary Sweeney while I pick imaginary insects off imaginary pies.  I’ve been using a real rolling pin as I actually want to hear the syncopation it provides when I’m singing, though I’m sure that neighbours aren’t keen on me blattering it off the table.  I’m concerned about the lines I have to speak as I don’t know if I can remember them.  I know I used to be able to learn a whole play but it seems harder now.  It’s probably not really though as it’s much easier to look back and remember performances than it is to remember the hours I put into learning the work in the first place.

I will go and practice!