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Sunday, August 25, 2013

I want to be a Flying Monkey

In High School and College I dabbled in theater. It's wasn't a big interest of mine. For one thing, most theater in that age group is Musical Theater and I can't really sing that well. But also I was more into writing and working at WECI, the college radio station.

Don't get me wrong. I like to sing. And I can kind of, sort of, carry a tune. If I practice a lot and am singing with a group or the song isn't very challenging and very much in the middle of my range. Or all three.

But get up in front of a bunch of people and sing cold by myself with no one to support me? Not going to happen. Not in my lifetime.

Or so I thought.

But then Mini-Mac's theater group, the awesome Peter Pan Foundation, decided to scrap their normal Christmas/Holiday faire this year in favor of published production. They are doing The Wizard of Oz.

As a result I have a new obsession: I must be a Flying Monkey.

Because, hello? they FLY. (Not that I think we'll actually get to fly with a wire.) Plus they are kind of bad ass.

They also don't sing as far as I can tell. I assume they sing in some group numbers. But that's it and I can handle that. Assuming I can make it past the audition.

So now I'm going to audition to be a flying monkey. And I have to sing. In front of people I don't know. Who can actually sing. And know what real singing is.

I decided that I would do Macklemore's Thrift Shop for my audition piece quite a while ago. It's an unconventional choice, I realize. But I figured I could make it work for a number of reasons including:

-I freaking love that song
-There is a lot of "sing talking" in it where going "off pitch" isn't really as much of an issue
-Because I love it so much, I figured I'd be relaxed and less likely to go off-pitch during the part that includes actual singing
-It's basically in my range (I have a low voice for a shortie)
-Because of the Thrift Shop parody I did for my company's video contest, I am very familiar with the song (it took me 20 hours to edit 2:30 minutes of video -- for a while that song was embedded in my brain)
-It would probably make the audition panel laugh or at least smile, which is good
-Have I mentioned I freaking love that song?

So I made my decision and I was set to go when the audition announcement came out. For the first time ever, everyone has to prepare two songs. TWO. And they have to be contrasting. So no picking a Green Day or an Expendables song for my second one. (Corporate Cafeteria anyone?)

Now what?

I almost backed out. Except I don't like to quit things. Plus... flying monkeys!

So I decided to pretend it was a triathlon. After all when I signed up for my first one of those, I was 50 pounds overweight and didn't own a bicycle or have access to a pool. But I joined a tri club, studied video on the internet and attended clinics and not only finished but finished 20 minutes faster than I thought I was going to.

I dug in and started serious prep work and training.

I started out by picking a second song that was more conventional. It was "I Know It's Today" from Shrek: The Musical. (Did you know that every Disney and Fake Disney movie out there has a Blah Blah: The Musical version? And also a Blah Blah Jr version? Weird.) I figured Fiona's an Alto and the song is kind of snarky and I'm kind of snarky but it's also got some pretty princess bits so....

I also found a voice coach. Because of the pretty princess bits. My voice coach is awesome. And she helped me a lot. But the song just wasn't working. There were parts I could do quite well. But other parts I probably could have done eventually. But not by Tuesday.

So Vocal Molly found me another song.

It's shorter. It is completely in my range. It's also more age appropriate. It's "I'm Still Here" by Sondheim from Follies.

I particularly like the line "I've stuffed the dailies in my shoes" because it reminds me of growing up poor and having same pair of school shoes for years until they had no soles and my feet got wet when it rained so I had to ask for another pair even though it was in the middle of the school year and I wasn't sure we had money to pay for them.

But I digress. And speaking of digressing.... in trying to figure out the name of a play I'd been in during High School for my "resume", I discovered Stephen Sondheim went to my High School! (And apparently attended a production of West Side Story that I vaguely remember seeing my Freshman year.)

Anyway, "I'm Still Here" is going quite well actually. I've been working on it for less than a week and I can already do the whole thing in tune and now I'm adding in flourishes and stuff. Buh, bye, Princess Fiona!

In the meantime, Thrift Shop started out a bit of a disaster. I knew Hip Hop was not as easy to sing as some people think. But the first time I did it out loud, I sounded like I was reciting a poem and not singing at all! I didn't expect that because, when I sing along to the radio, I definitely sing.

I was able to get past that pretty quickly though and now I sing the whole thing, don't get behind at any point (there are some fast bits in there), don't forget the words, and even do some acting. (You should see my expression when I sing "Yo, that's $50 for a t-shirt". I'm channeling every Mom who ever went shopping with her teenage daughter who wanted to buy some piece of crap item that would fall apart in less than a season but had an outrageous price tag because it was a name brand.)

The funny part is that Vocal Molly, though I think somewhat horrified by my choice, has informed me that just because it's hip hop, that doesn't mean I don't have to do real singing. So now I am not just thinking "don't sing the mother-f**ker part, don't sing the mother-f**ker part" but I am also thinking "breath from the core" and "inner smile" and all that bel canto stuff that real singers do.

I am amused.

And still scared.

I realize, though, in doing this, that I haven't done anything that scared me in quite a while. I did some stuff while job hunting. And I did go zip lining in May. But  those things were only mildly scary and not for long. In fact, I'm kind of in a rut. So this is good. I need to go back to that time in my life when "do something every day that scares you" was my motto and push myself more.

But, just in case, I'm bringing Mini-Mac to my audition. Singing to her doesn't scare me like it does singing to some other people. Technically we're not suppose to bring people but she's a member of the troupe and I'm still hoping she'll audition for a part too (she says she's not interested in this particular production) and we can do this together.

She, on the other hand, is hoping I don't get bit by the acting bug and invade her theater group. I completely understand this and I have assured her that I have no desire to be involved in acting or singing long term. I just want to be a freaking Flying Monkey!

I figure I'm still healing from my bike crash and the off-season is starting up pretty soon so this will be a nice diversion and then next spring I'll be back to triathlon full-time and she can have her theater group back. Not to mention she has a new theater group that is local to us (this one is by her old school so 45 minutes away) and also they do plays at her High School so it's not like I'm all over her space. She still has plenty of theater space that is completely Mom-free.
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