I can do this!

As part of my mission  to change my worldview from ‘the Singing Librarian sucks’ to something rather more positive, this post is a record of some of my achievements – apparently, I’m rather too good at downplaying them.  So in some ways, the post is more for me than it is for anyone who might happen to read it.  Normal service will be resumed shortly, potentially consisting of musings on rehearsals, an examination of why I like Cabaret and some gushing about modern theatrical composers.  But for the moment, there’s this.

I can sing.  I can act.  I may not be a dancer, but I can remember routines very well indeed.

Sometimes, talking about my hobby (which is really more than that, as I pour so much of my time and energy into it), people will ask about the roles I play and comment that I must be good to get so many good parts.  I tend to shrug this off – in the circles where I move, men who are willing and available to perform are few and far between, and even fewer of those can carry a tune.  The proof of the pudding is in the eating.  And the proof of the casting is in the performing.  I hate to watch myself perform, so I now turn to others for proof that this is something I am good at.

I don’t often get mentioned in the reviews of shows I’m in (and don’t all the professionals say they pay no attention to reviews anyway?), but two quotes from local press reviews really made me smile.  First, from a review of Me and My Girl in 2006, where I played my first principal role since leaving school.  I was

brilliantly convincing as bumbling toff Gerald Bolingbroke.

More recently, I was mentioned in the review of The Pirates of Penzance. I

stole the show as the Major General, playing the part with humour and energy […] His version of I Am The Very Model of a Modern Major General was very impressive.

How could I fail to be happy with that?

The Dominic Adams Trophy

Last year, I received a different sort of accolade.  Each year, one of the Societies I belong to presents an award in memory of a former director who was very highly regarded in the area.  The award is presented by his widow and is intended to mark ‘a moment of theatrical excellence’.  I was delighted, surprised and horribly embarrassed to be the recipient of the award in 2009 (for a show from 2008).  The giver of the award could not be there when it was presented, so instead the Society’s Chairman made a speech where she outlined the various ways in which I had contributed to the Society during my relatively brief membership and made me go very red.  She talked about my dedication, the speed at which I learn things and my tendency to fill in for whoever is missing from a rehearsal (with particular reference to Titanic, where I was sometimes three or four different people in the same scene).  She left out only one thing – mention of the particular ‘moment’ that the trophy was awarded for.  I was too embarrassed to ask at the time, and it soon became too late to find out without the question being an extremely awkward one.  Not to mention that the question would surely sound arrogant and end up sounding like “which one of my many moments of excellence is this for, exactly” rather than “so, what did I do to deserve this?”

General opinion, though, is that the award is for this moment:

This was from a show about Richard Rodgers, where I played the composer and explored his relationships with lyricists Lorenz Hart and Oscar Hammerstein.  ‘Soliloquy’ was included as an example of how Rodgers and Hammerstein advanced the musical form with songs that essentially set dialogue (or monologue, I suppose) to music, rather than interrupting the dialogue.

No matter what I may think of my performances as Gerald, the Major General and Richard Rodgers, I have to remind myself that it’s those watching the show who ultimately get to judge, and whose opinion ultimately counts.  As far as they are concerned, I really can do this.


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  1. David, you couldn’t move somewhere further north could you? Birmingham for example has a nice airport and lots of rail links.

    I do want to see a show, but Canterbury is a long way south. Almost France!

    Are there any more show links?


  2. 🙂

    • Trish
    • February 22nd, 2010

    That was an incredible performance, very heart-felt. Great that you got some recognition because I think actors don’t always get the praise they deserve.

    For example, on Thursday I went to see Midsummer Night’s Dream (Tobacco Factory, Bristol) and it was superb. Some of the acting was outstanding. Yet at the end the audience just clapped. Somehow it didn’t seem adequate reward for the huge amount of emotional and physical effort the actors had put in. People should have been standing on their chairs and calling out! In Britain we are just too reserved 🙂

  3. Ben, I don’t know if I could uproot myself from nearly-France. Folkestone, of course, is even more nearly France. If I get discovered, I shall be sure to nake sure I taken on a job with a tour of more Northerly, easily-reachable parts. 🙂

    Most of the shows I do are not able to be recorded for legal reasons. And most of the time, even if they do get recorded, I can’t then share them online. Sorry.

    Trish, I think most actors are quite happy with applause. We don’t need people risking life and limb on flimsy chairs. Actually, I think what’s most rewarding is what happens during the show. There are times when you know the audience is absolutely there with you, hardly daring to draw a breath. Or unable to breathe because they’re laughing too much. It is their participation (silent or vocal) that I value most on stage.

    • Linda
    • March 2nd, 2010

    Oh, I so wanted you to have asked “Which of my many excellent moments was this for?”

    Looking forward to much more show-stealing in future 🙂

    • Lyndall
    • March 2nd, 2010

    Ooooh … that’s the trophy I knocked off a very high shelf and it landed the right way up and survived! That goes down in my book as one of the greatest proofs of the existance of God you know! I would have been mortified to have damaged such a significant symbol of your incredible talent.

    And while I’m here … you really are a stunningly good actor and yet you possess a heap of other truly wonderful qualities besides … not least being one of the kindest, gentlest and most compassionate people I have yet had the pleasure of meeting.

    Here’s to David Positivity Season! Long may it continue.

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