Monday, February 28, 2011

Gala Success!

One Day More
Photo credit: Steven T.

Greetings readers,

Another Broadway Gala has come and gone. The biggest difference this year? It was the best yet! We kept everything clean and simple due to Victoria's suggestion of using the concert version of Les Miserables and keeping our choreography to a minimum. We just did what we do best: sing.

It was the least stressful year ever. No rummaging through bargain bins for costume pieces, no last-minute rehearsal of choreography steps backstage, and no unnecessary microphone swaps on stage. The soloists were all amazing, Martin Murphy played Jean Valjean with passion and sensitivity, the "Little Fall of Rain" death scene between Marius and Eponine was tear-inducing during both performances, and Rob and Erin were hilarious as the Thénardiers, Victoria was a moving Fantine... I could go on and on about everybody, even those with the smallest solo lines made it their own. The men chorus was so fun to watch because they're just so expressive and they always look like they're having such a great time. Even when their backs are turned away from the audience they are radiating energy in their actions and facial expressions.

It just felt very much like a professional production. We had some costume components supplied to us so we really looked unified and we had a fantastic pianist and drummer in the orchestra pit leading the instrumental music. Also, we had a delicious pasta dinner supplied for us complete with home baked muffins for dessert. You know things are professional when you are well-fed!

It is a pleasure to do the Broadway Gala because everybody takes such pride in what they are doing and it really translates to the energy on the stage. There was one man from the chorus who had to do continuous costume changes in the wings of the stage, since he had to play a different small character in almost every scene, and he just did it with such grace and efficiency. It just shows how everybody's collective effort can produce an amazing show in a relatively short amount of time when everybody takes care of their own details. We just started rehearsing at the end of January and all of the blocking was done the week before the performance. We had a sold-out Saturday night show and our Sunday matinee was 80% sold. Not bad at all! On Saturday night there was an amazing reception and it was lovely to catch up with choristers from the past and audience members. It feels like a mini-reunion of sorts since the people I'm lucky if I can see some of them once a year.

Overall, it was a fantastic weekend. I'm feeling a bit fried from the busy rehearsal and performance schedule but I had a fantastic time doing it. Enjoy some pictures from the show below.

Until next time, take care and stay warm!

Lovely Ladies
Photo credit: Steven T.

The People's Song
Photo credit: Steven T.

Master of the House
Photo credit: Steven T.

At the End of the Day
Photo credit: Steven T.

ABC Song
Photo credit: Steven T.

Backstage in the Belle's dressing room. Factory worker outfits.

Erin's wig for Mme. T

Sydney and Sara tweaking costume details in the mirror

Adrienne as a fetching factory worker

The Belles getting ready backstage

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A Lair of Vipers

Do you know what season it is?

'Tis Broadway season at Cantilon Choirs!

Our annual "Broadway Gala" is coming up this weekend with two performances. One on Saturday at 730 pm and the other on Sunday afternoon at 2pm at the Arden Theatre in St. Albert, AB. Please check out this link for more details and tickets.

Today we had our first blocking rehearsal. Since it is the "In Concert" version of Les Miserables, there's isn't much choreography, more so just different arrangements of groups of people to set the scene for particular songs and a line of microphones at the front of the stage to amplify the soloists. I was in awe of the fact that we were able to finish all our blocking for the shows in one day. Usually we spend weeks on the choreography and it is usually a back and forth learning process. In the past, we have ended up retracting and relearning choreography continuously, changing it ever so slightly each time we run it that the resulting product is never the same. Thus, it is hard to learn and especially difficult for those absent to fill in what they missed when the routine they learned the previous week no longer exists. Not good. However, it looks like that is less likely to happen this year since the choreography complexity has been greatly simplified.

As well, I always forget how much amazing music Les Miserables contains. All the musical themes throughout the piece are fantastic! And extremely catchy. "At the End of the Day" has such crisp diction that echos the stinging reality of their poverty, "The People's Song" has an epic anthem quality to it, and "Lovely Ladies" has such a gritty dirtiness that masks the hollow loneliness of a prostitutes life. Mentioning "Lovely Ladies", I was hesitant to whore-suit-up (my parents will be coming to the show), but thought it would be good fun with all the other ladies in Belle Canto and chance to expand my stage bubble. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. It is extremely cathartic to play a character that is vastly different than the persona I have molded for myself. We received directions to assemble in a tightly layered group on stage and wave our arms in undulating "come hither" gestures so that we resembled a lair of vipers. Vipers? I can do viper. Afterward, I received a comment on how believable I looked as a whore. It's what every girl hopes for :)

In the next few days we will be running through Act I and Act II of the show on separate night complete with costume changes. Other than checking on some words which still trip me up and reviewing my entrances and exits for all the scenes, I think that everything is in control this year. I feel very little panic. Usually, we're rehearsing choreography backstage still on the day of the performance, but I don't forsee that as something that will occur this year. I also was saved a ton of work in the costume department because lovely Victoria from Belle Canto provided a box of costume pieces for us to borrow. Thank goodness because I definitely do not own a corset.

I'll keep you posted on the Broadway happenings. Here's a taste of what the concert version is like:

Until next time, take care readers!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Singing the the Dark

Greetings readers,

Tonight I had the dress rehearsal for Pro Coro's "Music from Space" concert on Sunday evening. It is going to look so cool! The whole church is going to be in complete darkness except for our music stand lights and the blue glow of the projector showing images from the Hubble telescope above the stage.

It took a long time for my eyes to adjust to the lack of light since it's hard to see the conductor's gestures in the dark. Shocking, I know. Hopefully, we can shine a few more lights on him. The risers are a bit hazardous since there is a web of electrical cords all around my feet as I sing and I'm afraid to move around too much in case I bump stands and lights perched all around me. I'm glad we're no longer doing a processional. I don't need another hazardous walking opportunity to slip on stage again. Other than that, it felt pretty cool to be singing in the dark, there was this overwhelming sense of intimacy in the space. Voices
seamlessly weave in and out of the fabric of the darkness and the paired visual and acoustic stimulus will yield a powerful effect.

Also, you may be glad to know, for those of you who read about my music learning woes in my previous post, that I was able to make it through Ligeti's "Lux Aeterna" for the first time without losing my way! This was quite the feat for me. I just need to sing with more confidence now and watch the conductor's shadowy hands with intensity since that actually helped me more than anything else.

Tomorrow morning is our last rehearsal before the concert on Sunday. If you happen to be in Edmonton, I'd recommend coming out to see the concert because it's going to be pretty unique!

: Sunday, February 13, 2011 @ 7:30 pm
: McDougall United Church
: $25 Student/Senior; $30 Adult (Available at the door)
You can find more details here