A week in the Tower – Day 5

Day 5 could have gone better for me.  An awful lot better.  During the afternoon, I read over my notes from the various run-throughs and performances over the last 10 days, and sang through ‘Don’t Be Cruel’ numerous times, as I know that’s the number I find most challenging vocally.  It stays very low and my character is supposed to be nervous while singing it, a combination which can mean that I descend into incomprehensibility if I don’t concentrate.

Notes were at five o’clock, preceded for unknown reasons by a game of catch that soon became violent.  Much laughter was shared by the company, and I proved that I have no sense of aim whatsoever.  I know people who hate notes during a run, but the whole point of them is to make sure that the show gets better and better, as there’s always room for improvement.  They can also be encouraging – if someone does something particularly good, that will be picked up on and praised.  As long as everyone involved knows that the purpose is notes is for good and not for ill, then all is well – I certainly have had many notes over the years which improved my performance, generally suggesting things I’d never have thought of myself or catching errors or problems I hadn’t noticed.

Although I had notes that I needed to absorb, I wasn’t needed for the small tweaks to positioning which were made, so I had plenty of time to get myself ready.  It is at this point where I’m always pleased that I got hold of several white t-shirts for the show (I needed to buy them specially, as they are tighter than I would normally wear them), meaning that I’ve been able to wear a fresh one for each performance.  As they stay on for the whole show, often under at least one other layer of clothing, they are not exactly nice by the time we come off-stage after the finale.  Sadly, I only have one pair of jeans, which also stay on for the whole show, again sometimes under other trousers.  Poor jeans.

We had fewer people in the audience than for the first two nights and they responded to completely different things, which was fascinating.  A couple of moments for other characters which had been greeted with spontaneous rounds of applause on Wednesday and Thursday got a few scattered laughs, but the Friday night audience did also find some things amusing which our first two sets of punters hadn’t laughed at.

Near the beginning of the show, I had one moment of personal triumph which nobody else could possibly have known about.  It was one of those moments last night where every ounce of energy has to be focussed into not laughing.  During one of the points where the majority of the cast freezes in place, I could feel a bead of sweat trickling slowly down my nose and hanging bravely in place when it reached the end.  I was horribly aware that the dance captain and I were looking at each other at this point, and I didn’t know whether she could see this.  Not being allowed to laugh makes the strangest things become extraordinarily funny, and this struggle between sweat and the demands of gravity became the centre of my world for a few, very long seconds.  The sense of relief when the freeze was over and I was free to move was truly immense.  The fact that I had not laughed made me very happy indeed.

As I said at the top of the post, things could have gone a lot better for me.  I avoided the mistakes of the previous night, but made fresh, worse ones.  I nearly walked into a flat on my first exit.  I struggled to find my mark for placing a table in one of the scene changes.  These are minor things.  But I had larger problems.  In ‘The Power of My Love’, I lost control of my leather jacket, an issue which we thought had been sorted quite some time ago.  And my performance of ‘Don’t Be Cruel’ was the most excruciating public performance for me since the time I forgot the words to a duet.  I managed, accidentally, to delay the start of the scene, leaving four members of the ensemble stranded on stage for a few seconds – this is never good, as a few seconds in the theatre can feel like a few years.  My vocals were OK at the start of my part of the song, not great, but not awful, but on the words ‘don’t be cruel’, I felt like I was barely whispering, therefore even less audible than in the past.  After this, things went downhill fast.  The song involves an on-stage quick change, which happens behind a clothes rail and should be accomplished in six bars of music.  Last night, it took me longer than it had done before due to extreme button-related incompetence, and I realised that there was a gap in the clothes rail where there shouldn’t have been, so a good third of the audience had an excellent view of proceedings.  I burst through the clothes rail at least 4 bars later than usual, just about made it to the right place on stage and then forgot one of my keys to the show – Jim is a bass.  While I am a tenor, my character is not.  I constantly have to try to keep my voice grounded in both speech and song.  Distracted by the travails of the costume change (which is most unprofessional of me – a truly great performer should be able to carry on regardless), my voice did what it would do in any other show, and headed happily to the tenor harmony.  Sadly, since the song is a duet, this left two of us on the harmony and nobody on the melody on the last line.  My duet partner, the leading man, found this alarming, as he assumed that the mistake was his, not mine, and that he should be singing a third higher than he was.  Thankfully, he did not try to do so, but I felt rather awful afterwards when I realised I’d made him panic.

This was all terribly frustrating, as this was the performance where I had the most members of the Singing Librarian fanclub in attendance, including the traditional shelf of librarians.  However, I must put it behind me and just work hard to make the final two performances as good as they possibly can be.  Oh, and enjoy them.  Enjoying is something I’ve been doing a lot of this week, and with only one day left in the Tower, I intend to carry on doing it.

  1. On behalf of the shelf of librarians, we had a great time last night. It was lots of fun and brilliantly done – you are all scarily talented! Hope you enjoy the last two performances.

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: