Friday, May 26, 2006

Fever Pitch

We open The Buddy Holly Story at The Merry-Go-Round Playhouse next Wednesday. I've never even seen the place. I don't even know where it is. We do a run-through for the producers on Sunday. It’s Friday and we have yet to run through the entire show. We’re rehearsing every day, every single day, no let up, no day off. My friend shows up on Monday for 3 days. What kind of fun are we going to have in Auburn? The victorian architecture fascinates me and Harriet Tubman's house is up the street but I have yet to venture past the Wegmans a few blocks away. I've been that busy.

I’m way more stressed than I think I am. I have moments when I wake up abruptly in the middle of the night in a panic, convinced that I’ve forgotten something vital. I know that feeling very well. It first came to me as a temp in my early years in NYC, working in some crummy law firm in midtown. I would wake up in a cold sweat, unsure as to whether or not I actually sent the fax to Helsinki or if I cc’ed all of the people on the list or if that package went out FedEx or UPS – or if it went out at all. Maybe it didn’t get sent and they’d find out that I was responsible and I’d get canned. My heart would be pounding like there was a hammer in my chest trying to bang its way out. Seriously. It’s that feeling all over again.

I’m not eating all that much, either. I’m not eating at night because of my acid reflux. If I nosh past 9pm, I run the risk of losing my voice. I’m not singing much but I am singing at the top of my range. I have to be careful. And yeah, I cut the junk food completely. I just don’t have time to sit around and chew on anything. Not even gum. I’m drinking a lot of water because there’s a cooler at the rehearsal space and nobody cares if I tank up all day and before I go home in the evening. I usually work out before and occasionally after rehearsal, to get that freak out feeling off of me. I don’t go to sleep easily. I don’t wake up easily. Food is no fun. And the guitar isn’t fun yet. It’s still work. The only thing I really enjoy is sleeping.

Once this musical is on its legs and all of the movement is in my body, this will be a lot of fun. I can turn my attention towards refining the songs that I’ve written for the cds I want to produce and figure out what else I want to get out of my summer. Like a really happy birthday at the end of June. Some serious beach time with my friend. A nice lump sum of money in my ING savings account. Well-organized receipts. My driver’s license.

Still and all, there are moments when I am blown away, imagining that Harriett Tubman walked these streets so close to her home. This is the place where she lived free. And here I am, right up the block. All I can think is, it's not in a book. It's not in a made-for-tv movie. I always knew that it was true but all of a sudden, it's real. She's real. Slavery really happened. And it didn't happen all that long ago. That's an astonishing thing.


A.J. Muhammad said...

Hi Queen-Esther: I'm so excited for you. I wish I could see Buddy. I know you'll be excellent. As for singing at the top of your range, you'll be fine. Not that you asked, of course you didn't, but Charlayne Woodard talked about doing the same thing in her one woman show "In Real Life," the third play in her autobiographical series. (I have a copy of the script.) She said that when she did Ain't Misbehavin' she was told she had to sing second soprano even though she's an alto. Nell Carter was also an alto and she told Charlayne, "I'm the alto and I ain't learning no new parts. Plus the show needs a second soprano. Look, fit into the slot, or quit!" Charlayne replied "how am I going to sing eight shows a week singing that high? Her co-star Armelia McQueen said "Well, baby... we are all singing at the top of our ranges. Try it. Your voice might get stronger singing there." Nell countered, trying to mess with Charlayne, "Or you might ruin it altogether!" But it was Charlayne who gave Nell a run for the money because they were the only actors from Misbehavin to be both nominated for Tonys. When they found out about the nominations everybody congratulated Charlayne and Nell came out of her dressing room and told Charlayne "battle-stations, Miss thing!!!"

Will Renee & Co. be swooping down on you in Auburn?

Hope to see you/hear you when you get back to NYC. I will keep my fingers crossed that the opportunity pulls through where you get to sing at that Blue Grass/Americana festival (I think) in Thompkins Sq. Park that you mentioned in an earlier blog in the summer.

queenesther said...

hey, aj! funny thing -- i think i heard that story somewhere awhile back because it sounds awfully familiar. singing at the top of my range has turned out to be a good thing. i'm taking better care to keep the mucous and the acid off of my vocal cords, and i'm vocalizing every day. i think i'm going to want to take vocal lessons with my opera teacher again when i get back to the city...