Monday, June 27, 2005

Insomnia: My love/hate relationship with Musical Theatre

After promising myself not to do any Musical Theatre for awhile I find myself back in the saddle. I just haven't had positive experinces in Musical Theatre in the last few years, I've been accused of being too fat, not white enough (or not being white at all), too young, too short, sounding too much like an opera singer and "limited acting range." Thank you Music Department at Cal State Hayward East Bay, you have totally transformed me into a dumb singer musician. It's good to know that my $1200 a quarter was put to good use.

The show I'm doing is Children of Eden at Cal State. I'm doing this show because I'm helping out a friend who is the Music Director of the production and to use this summer as a "victory lap" at the Theatre Department I started my college education at over six years ago. Besides, they gave me a fee waiver and I'm going to school for free this quarter. I'm taking some classes I didn't do too well or withdrew from my freshman year. I'm so almost done with my undergrad degree.

My current culmulative GPA is 2.91, not bad, especially considering I spent my first two or three years at Cal State as a total and complete drunk. Although I still talk a good game about drinking and getting drunk nowadays, I am responsible now, trust me. Two and a half years ago, my cumulative was at 2.2, I've worked my ass off to improve my grade and I really want to leave Cal State with at least a 3.0 cumulative. It would look good for grad school. Which I'm hoping is either going to be Cal or Stanford, with a 3.4 Major GPA, I think I have a shot. And if I don't, it's San Jose State for my Masters (in Musicology, not Performance) and I'll apply again to Cal and Stanford for my Doctorate.

Back to musicals. I'm glad I'm with the show, I have a cool solo, though I don't have a part and I think I'm going to have fun. Music rehearsals have been a blast, if not physically exaustive. The music's good but the tessitura is very high for Musical Theatre. Tessitura is a fancy Italian term for "where most of the notes sit," you can have a piece with a moderate tessitura and still have high notes if most of the notes of the piece are in the middle of your comfortable range. Children of Eden does not do that. Most of the tenor line sits at the top of the "tenor" treble clef E,F,G,Ab. For a comparison, most tenor parts in your average musical rarely touches G let alone sit around there for a very long time.

It's Stephen Schwartz. Stephen Schwartz is to American Musical Theatre is like French Opera to the rest of Opera, very high tessitura. I am so spent at the end of rehearsals, but at least I'm a smart singer and I mark often when I'm tired.

I love Musical Theatre, but it pains me to the ends of the Earth that I don't see any immediate future in it. The American Idol-ization of the genre kills my enjoyment of the art and my chances of getting parts. Casting directors want a light, aspirated, pop-like sound when they're casting nowadays. I walk in and when they hear me they think "opera singer" even though I'm singing with my Musical Theatre voice because my voice is big. The ironic part is I'm not ready for big opera parts, not yet.

I feel that outside perceptions is forcing me into a box. I guess the best thing I can do is to get comfortable in that box, work hard to get better, then break out of it. I guess Children of Eden is going to be my last musical for awhile. If I've been forced into the "opera box" then let me explore it for a bit. Although I love Musicals, I've always had more fun performing operas, there's less personal baggage and excessive egos in opera, at least from what I've seen so far.


Post a Comment

<< Home