The first show I ever did was a musical—my high school musical, Sugar. I was a saxophone-playing bum/tap-dancing gangster/chorus girl/nurse/swimmer/society lady. That’s what I did (not the many costume changes and gender switching): musicals. I went from doing the school musicals in March to the summer community theatre show and then auditioning for the school show again. It was a cycle of show tunes and I loved it. Coming to college was a water balloon to the face. People actually do Shakespeare outside of English class? People still write plays? And we perform them? Suddenly, I was immersed in a world that had me doing more theatre than ever before and for the first time, none of them were musicals.
That’s not to say that we don’t do musicals. There’s always been probably two different musicals going on here every year and there are so many music groups—a capellas, show choirs, bands…but I just stopped doing music. I wasn’t singing, I was too busy to join any clubs, I didn’t have any instrumental skills to keep me going. It was easier to focus on learning monologues and how to dance. It was a long time before I even realized that I had given up music somewhere along the way.
Actually, it was last year when I realized. Our Voice and Movement class was doing a show and I was supposed to sing. I was a shaky mess and my voice didn’t sound much better (to my credit, I DID sing). But that was the first step: get myself to sing again.
That’s what this semester is. I’m taking Intro to Musical Theatre; getting the character shoes back out and wiping the dust off of my old sheet music. Taking Intro to MT reminds me a lot so far of high school chorus: we sing “Seasons of Love” often and I’m on the tenor part. We’ve started learning “All That Jazz” (when in doubt, Fosse it out!) and I’m looking for new songs. It’s been such a long time since I’ve had music in my rep book that I still have songs for characters too young even for me to pull off anymore or are the wildly wrong type. I guess it’s time I give up my childhood dream of playing Mary Lennox in The Secret Garden. But there are other musicals out there for me: like, Stop the World, I Want to Get Off!
Stop the World is our next mainstage production and I’ve been cast as a member of the Universal Life Circus. I’m only in one song (the big showstopping “Gonna Build a Mountain”, in which Tom Loughlin decides that climbing a mountain of suitcases is a good idea/not stupid shit) but this is my first musical since high school and it feels pretty good.
And that’s the singing part of the semester. The “stuff” covers all the other things I’ll be up to this semester: tarot-reading, the Vagina Monologues, ballet and swords (somehow, these things are connected), and poetry. Bring on week 3!