Okay this is so long overdue. It’s been a crazily busy time, everyone. Let’s go back in time a little bit. The show closed here in Toronto on Jan. 2. People just wanted to go home (to NYC) so badly. How badly, you may ask? (Thank you for asking) By the time I had taken off my make-up and walked out of the bathroom, my entire dressing room of guys was GOOOOOOONE!!!!! All their make up, all their belongings. Just garbage baskets full of discarded opening night cards and the faint ringing of the last “see you in New York” as the last person left the dressing room. That was fine. I was so tired, I just wanted to get home.
Cut to the next morning when I woke up and went downstairs to talk to my roommate, Karen, and nothing came out. WHAT??!! Full laryngitis, y’all. Never happened before. Now there had been all kinds of plague going around the cast. Well, actually all around the city. Seriously, it was like we were in London circa 1666. I had this crazy bronchial cold that started Christmas Eve (and quite frankly only recently left me) but I’ve had that before. So I was thinking of what would have made my voice go? What changed? I realized I had been taking large doses of Cold FX and I wonder if it stirred up some nasty acid reflux (where your stomach acid bubbles up into your esophagus – I know, tasty). That was the only thing that made sense – combined with the cold and total exhaustion. So that meant basically my chords were burnt. Woohoo, party in my throat and apparently 5 thrash-metal bands were invited.
If I just had the time off, that would have been inconvenient but fine. Unfortunately, it was Monday and my cabaret was Sunday. Hmmm I have 7 days until I have to sing about 23/24 songs all on my own and I’ve got full laryngitis. Okay, let’s see how this goes. It got better day by day but, of course, it meant I couldn’t really sing the songs to rehearse them. I could do the text work and make sense of them but I couldn’t really get them in my body with breath and vibration which is a big part of how a performer learns and gets “friendly” with songs. I’d have rehearsals with Chris, my pianist, where I would sort of talk sing through things- really gently since you also have to let the voice rest through throat issues – but it’s not the same. All of this meant that the first time I actually sang the songs almost full out was at our rehearsal at 3:30 on the Sunday before the show. Which, in turn, meant that the first time I sang them full out was at the actual show on Sunday night.
So let us cut to the show. Wow, y’all, where do I begin. This could be the beginning of a horror show or a triumph, depending on how you see it. It was a full house which was so lovely and wonderful. All kinds of people where there. My voice was not in bad shape, I felt good, not too nervous. I knew it was going to be an okay night. I start the show. First song – not bad, atmospheric, beautiful tune, went off pretty well. Second song – kooky, fun, nice laughs in the crowd, it’s going well. Third song – I got that weird first note, the intro has an easy roll to it, first verse starts nice and easy uh-oh I just started singing the second verse in place of the first. Okay well just keep going and when you finish this verse, you can loop back and sing the first verse second. Weird, I’ve never done this before. Oh well, just keep singing, they’ll never know. Okay coming to the end of the verse, get ready to sing the first verse now, Chris is going into the turnaround. . . . Shit what’s the first verse???? Okay well the two verses start with the same 2 lines so sing those and keep breathing. … Coming close. What are the lyrics? Aaaand go . . . . . . . .Aaaaand . . . .nothing. I fully had to stop, my people, and admit I have no idea where I am. I suddenly saw the evening flash before my eyes. I thought, I’m exhausted and sick and this music is not in my body and I may be forgetting lyrics at different points tonight so I have two choices: either I panic, stop breathing and make them uncomfortable while dooming myself to be nervous and crash an burn OR if I’m going to survive this and give these people their monies worth, I can breathe, relax, be charming as hell and make it part of the show. As you can imagine, I did the latter. I started laughing and told them exactly what I had just done with the verses and how I couldn’t even go on. They laughed and we went on. Well, that became the running gag. I have never, ever had this happen before but I forgot the lyrics to every 3rd and sometimes 2nd song in the first set in some way. Some I faked through and no one would have known, some I had to ask Chris at the piano what they were. But what ended up being hilarious and kind of fun as I’d forget them in the oddest places so coming back in, the lyric would be a perfect metaphor for what just happened. It was like I had planned it. Luckily my voice held up pretty well. For the most part, I feel like the singing and story-telling was strong.
But let me start by painting a picture of how I knew it was going to be a bizarre ride of a night. While I was getting ready, I started pulling out all of my gear – my outfits (check), my music for last minute lyric checks (check), my jewellry (check), my water (check), my throat concoction to keep my throat going as long as possible (check), my brown shoes for the first set (check), my black shoes for the second set (che . . .) . . wait a minute – I brought two different black shoes. Ah well, I’ll wear them and that’ll make a good stor . . . . . wait a minute . . . . they’re both the right shoe. GODDAMMIT!!!! I can’t wear the brown shoes with the all black and white second outfit. Cut to the second act with me in a tux, wearing my black waterproof, Timberland boots. They made a great story in the middle of the act. I looked like Nanook of the North at his graduation. And I did decide in the name of all that is holy it would be a good plan to bring the music up with me for the second set since my mind was not holding info. So the second act went a lot better.
The great part is that people seemed to really enjoy themselves. And my voice, which was not solid but was lasting, held out until the last note of the encore, literally. I had to hold a big last note and I did it but the voice cracked majorly twice but I held on. (That’s two ‘but’s in the same sentence – someone call the grammar police) All in all, it ended up being a great night. I had fun, the crowd seemed to have fun. I’ve been getting many sweet message from people who say they had fun. They could be lying but I hope not. What is interesting is that one of the things people have been saying is that it was so great to see the really human side of a performer in a situation like that.
That’s a little too human for my taste. Please let that be the first and last, y’all.