A Funny Thing Happened on the Way To The Forum

AFunnyThing

Well, here is where it started.

I have no memory of what compelled me to audition for a musical.

I have a vague recollection of seeing an audition announcement for Desert Stages Theatre, learning the lyrics to “Comedy Tonight”, and then subjecting my wife to my rendition of it. She looked terrified and a little traumatized by the time I was done. But she said it was really good, and so I was qualified to go to the audition.

There was quite a line of hopefuls, each with varying levels of skill. I sang when it was my turn, and I felt surprisingly comfortable doing it. It was no rafter-ringer, to be sure, and they assigned me to the ensemble where I would blend in with other voices. But I was happy that I booked the role, and looked forward to rehearsals.

And man, did we rehearse. It was a sparsely assembled set, and yet there were some reasonably challenging movements to be memorized. We divided the rehearsals into music and blocking, and worked on whichever one was weakest at that moment. Considering this was a Sondheim musical, it was always the music.

I hung out with some really cool folks during the dead times when the director worked with other actors. Although DST is a community theater that is primarily known for their educational prowess, I had a few comrades who were my age or older. These were people who weren’t looking to make it into the next Cohen Brother’s film – they just had a sincerely good time during the process of bringing up a production.

We painted sets, tried on costumes, handed out flyers, swept the floors, and then came opening night. The expectation backstage was electric. We filed out, the lights came up, and off we went, into our songs!  It was truly exhilarating to have all that inward energy we used to prepare the show to suddenly burst out and be received by expectant patrons.

Each night was a chance to ramp up the excitement, tweak the harmonies, and feel the groove when you got it right. Which was often.  There were nights of empty seats, but also packed nights. Catty nights and chummy ones. Some weekends felt like a grind, but then there were quite a number of performances where we were congratulating ourselves all over the place. By the time closing night came, we were tired and giddy, and ready for the after party.

I’m not certain what would specifically trigger another venture down that road, but I do know that the thrill of belting out melodies to a packed room is still something I would enjoy again. I can see why some people specialize in it, memorize showtunes, TiVo Glee, etc.  It would take some voice training to be more than an ensemble piece, and I would be up for the challenge. It doesn’t fit into my immediate plan, but who knows. Stay tuned, I guess.

Takeaway: Step outside your comfort zone.