Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Sing Out Loud

PLUTO IN THE FIFTH HOUSE
That's right, folks. Pluto, planet of power, is sitting in Capricorn, the sign of career, in the 5th House, the house of creativity and drama. Add to that that the sun is sitting on the Midheaven. What do all these technical terms mean? Drama. Especially in the career world. We're going to see a lot of creativity, but with that creativity comes plenty of theatrics and passionate responses. We may also see a movement towards working with children - they are, after all, creations themselves.

What better day for the Tony Award nominations to come out? I actually had no idea (bad former actor!) until I saw a posting on Facebook (what would we do without it?) on my friend, Michael's, page. He has been nominated for a Tony for his costume work in the revival of Hair. This show was seen in the park last year and it was such a huge success that they took it Broadway where it is delighting audiences once again.

And I haven't seen it yet. (bad former actor!!)

The theatre has always been a powerful medium for the presentation of revolutionary ideas. There's something about seeing a performance live that's magical. It doesn't translate to the screen in the same way, either large or small. I think that's because it's never the same. Theatre is a living organism. It's why the last performance of a run is so sad, but if you think about it, they're all last performances. There will never be the same group of people sitting in the audience. You never know what lines are going to hit and get the laugh and which ones will flop because different people have different experiences.

And if you do the same show again, it's not with the same cast. The whole feel is different. The director has a different vision, there is different choreography, you may not have the same part. The same goes for attending a show. You are a member of that audience for 2-3 hours, depending on the show. You play a vital part just as any person on that stage. As Lily Tomlin says, "Without you, there'd be little point in me being here." It's a give and take between performer and audience. There's a lot of power on both sides and part of the magic is the relationship between them. Like most art, it's a subjective world.

So it always intrigues me how the Tony committee picks its nominees and its winners. People are already up in arms about one show or another, one actor or another: "Megan Hilty was robbed." Attending the theatre is like going on a date. Sometimes, you really enjoy yourself. Sometimes, you don't. Sometimes, you want to know more. Sometimes, it's just a fluffy evening that allows you to have a good time without really committing. And sometimes, you wish you'd had a drink beforehand. Still, it takes a great deal of courage to get up in front of people in any context.

When I was in college, I took an acting class (yes, i was a Theatre major; must you point out the obvious?). One of the exercises that we had to do was to sing. You could sing anything you liked, but you had to get up in front of the class and sing a capella. The professor said it was because singing in front of a group is one of the gutsiest things that you can do. It was a courage exercise. Having been in musical theatre since I was 12, I had no major issue. There was one girl, however, who was absolutely terrified. She got up to sing and had to sit back down because her nerves took over. The second time she got up to do it, she cried the entire way through the song, but she got through it. Now, you may be sitting there thinking, "Oh, come on. I do karaoke. It's not that hard." This was in a safe environment; we were all her peers. Karaoke is in front of strangers (some say that's better), there's a track backing you up, and of course, there's alcohol. Still, the nerve it takes to get up and sing in front of a group of people is enormous. To then do it well enough to land a job in a show, a Broadway show nonetheless, and then to be nominated for an award for it, is outstanding and not just a bit lucky. First, though, it takes pluck to even put yourself out there.

And as for karaoke, that's not always as easy for everyone. In fact, it can be a punishment for some. A friend missed a cabaret of mine for a meal and the consequence (let the punishment fit the crime) was that she had to sing a song of her choice the next time we all went out for karaoke. Being a great sport about it, she did it, but she definitely considered it a punishment. She got to choose the song, we were all there cheering her on, and she knew that most of us would end up singing as well, but it was still a hard thing for her. She did it, and though she never wants to do it again, I'm betting she's glad she did.

This is applicable on many levels, which we won't go into, but I think this is a challenge for everyone. Next time you're considering bungee jumping or cliff diving or some other crazy stunt that shows bravery and gets your heart racing, I suggest that you add "singing a capella in front of a group of friends" to the list. I think most people would rather bungee jump. I will say, though, that if you think bungee jumping gives you a high, try the applause when you finish singing. :)

Congratulations to all of the nominees!

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