It’s been a long time since I’ve lit my candles and incense and turned the lights down low while listening to Mozart..As I type this, that is what I am doing to try to relax myself to sleep after drinking a lot of coffee tonight just to stay awake!
We had another rehearsal for OBR tonight, and yet, still we have conflicts and not everyone has been able to rehearse together. This is beginning to bring me right back to my writer’s group murder mystery last year from Sept-Nov. I think out of all the rehearsals I scheduled, we had everyone there at one time maybe twice. Tonight was also the first real night everyone was supposed to be off book, so I’d hear “line” “line” “line” every so often, and I’d feed whoever needed the lines.
While listening to everyone sing the songs, I sat there thinking how exciting it is to be involved in a musical again. Other than doing the Purim Spiel (which was top 3 of my favorite things, like, ever) my last musical was Bye Bye Birdie in high school when I was a junior. I can remember it now….
I walked into school and heard that a teacher had painted her room pink. That was the first time something like that had ever been done (you know, the walls are normally an off-white color), and so I had to see for myself. I went to her room, introduced myself, and told her why I was there. Then we talked and she mentioned wanting to do a musical. Sure enough, that spring semester we did Bye Bye Birdie.
Auditions were terrifying. And, even though I was in choir, I was super shy and barely sang out and didn’t want the attention on me at all (no please don’t pick me to sing solo, not even for a grade!). Plus, I had so many ear problems at that point (I had to have tubes put in for the 2nd time when I was 16), so that made me very self conscious.
So back to auditions: I had to sing in front of so many of my peers; I was shaking very badly, and I’m sure I was out of tune. Either way, I got to be one of the chorus girls. For Bye Bye Birdie, I also helped with clearing out the entire gym stage to prep it for the musical (that was a process), I helped with props (go figure, something I’m still doing today), made the t-shirt design, and so many other things. I have pages of inside jokes from that time.
Years later, I found the Bye Bye Birdie original cast vinyl record and I play it every so often to just keep myself in tact with my old haunt of a musical. I loved The Telephone Hour the most I think.
What’s the story, morning glory?
What’s tale, nightingale?
Tell me quick about Hugo and Kim!
What’s the story, morning glory?
What’s the word, humming bird?
Have you heard about Hugo and Kim?
Did they really get pinned?
Did she kiss him and cry?
Did he pin the pin on?
Or was he too shy?
Well, I heard they got pinned
It upsets me that I don’t even have one single photo from Birdie (maybe there’s one in the yearbook from my junior year, but I don’t have any of my yearbooks with me). I don’t even remember what our set looked like. I just remember our gym stage being transformed. Almost two years later (after I graduated), they built a real auditorium, but I never really got a chance to see it or enjoy it. At that point, I stopped going back to help the front office and for visits because almost all my teachers had retired and all of my friends had graduated.
My mind tonight also jumped to my years in music. In 7th & 8th grade, I was the choir/music teacher aide. I also took general music, and I taught myself how to play piano and read music theory. Since I was a TA, I had the chance to have my own bulletin board where I was in charge of creating extra credit and it would be about composers. I was the pianist’s page turner at our competitions, and I helped out at every concert doing who knows what. In 8th grade (and I don’t know how–then, at that point–I had the guts to even read something in front of the audience because I turned beet-red at a drop of a hat), I introduced the choir songs at one of the concerts. While at home a couple of years ago, I put that VHS tape in and listened to myself. Ouch. A very Kentuckian accent (thank G-d I got rid of that)… and, while watching, my TV’s built-in VCR ate that tape. Whoops. It must’ve thought that was painful, too.
In high school, I went to be in choir, and I would get to help out whenever possible. I loved it. Our choir director was really good, so good that we’d take home distinguished scores every competition. I remember sitting in the audience and my twitching every time I hear a bad note. (I do that to this day, now, actually.)
Instead of me reminiscing from memory, here’s a piece I wrote for the book I published. This piece still remains one of my favorite memories, moments; it is still every thing.
The Storm is Passing Over 6/25/14
Back in April of 2014, I had a dream that our choir family from high school got together for a reunion of some sorts. I woke up crying because I knew there was a huge chance it wouldn’t ever happen.
Well, to my surprise, it actually sort of did. In May of 2014, my high school choir director, Ellen, retired from the school that she went on to teach at a few years after I graduated. Since it was a last minute decision, I couldn’t attend this wonderful “last concert” reunion sort of thing that her family was planning for her. When I saw photos and comments pertaining to the reunion, it seemed like it was a great time.
I was reminded of the great times I had in choir. The KMEA assessments, music festivals, trips to Philly & Atlanta, preparing for concerts and concert nights. I remember how powerful I felt when I had my black choir dress on with pearls. I still have all of the programs from each concert and any of the newspaper.
Out of all of the concerts I attended, my senior year spring concert in 2004, had to of been the best. Prepping for that night was completely epic. One phone call turned into way too many and my mom’s sneakiness was figured out; She was trying to hide the fact that some of my family from Indiana was down for the concert.
The very last song that my group of seniors sang with the rest of the choir was “The Storm is Passing Over.” The weather was quite maddening and I will never forget the moment when I saw lightning out of the corner of my eye. As much as it was storming outside, it was definitely doing the same inside.
After the song was over, the choir members from my graduating class gathered around Ellen and Larry and sang several songs for them. It was such an emotional night. Both of them had such a positive impact on every single student that was a member of the choir. I know that I’m right when I say that for the majority of us, choir was one of the single happy moments of our high school lives.
For six years from 1998-2004: I was a teacher’s aide for a choir director, a part of the choir, helped out at every concert that I could, taught myself how to play piano, learned the history of music and composers, studied music theory, learned how to judge choirs at contests, choir stage presence and so much more.
After six years of nothing but music on my mind, I went on to study it my first year of college but then I stopped due to life taking me down another route. Unfortunately, I haven’t returned to music yet, but I’m almost always surrounded by song from my every day life.
Music and lyrics alone are the gateway to someone’s soul, recollection and relatedness to and in life. It’s the one language that everyone speaks.
15 years later, and the music is back in my life. It took 12 years for theatre.