Sunday, October 3, 2010

Broadway Baby

I was going to blog today about work and how much I don't love it but then I was listening to my iPod while restocking the sales floor (a surprisingly harrowing tale you'll be glad I've elected not to tell) and happily singing Broadway tunes at the very top of my lungs (note: this will be a recurring theme throughout this blog) and decided instead to blog about that. Besides, the troubles at work can be summed with the following thought: everything would be much better if everyone would do what I wanted them to do and nothing else.

Note to management: No, I don't take requests. At least not from you. From friends? Yes. From family? Yes. From you? No. Unless you give me a raise and get the closing crew to actually do their jobs so I don't have to. Then we can talk about requests.

So, with that out of the way, let's move on to the main event.

The first thing I want to say is that I'm not being boastful when I say that I can sing. And when I say that I can sing I mean I can sing on key (mostly) and with style (kind of) and, at one point in my high school career, considered pursuing a career as an opera singer or Broadway star. No, really. I obviously wouldn't have been the fat lady closing out the show but I would've sung the hell out of the chorus part.

The point is, I have some talent as a singer.

Back when I was in junior high, our family got our first CD player. How's that for dating ourselves? Maybe later I can tell the thrilling tale of when we got our first VCR. The very first CD I bought was the original cast recording soundtrack for The Phantom of the Opera. Because I was just that cool and our chorus director somehow had turned all of kids into Broadway loving freaks. So I would spend the occasional afternoon sitting on the couch with headphones on, listening to my one and only CD on the one and only CD player we had in the whole entire house.

This began my sometimes unfortunate habit of singing with headphones on. Needless to say, I believe my family was thrilled beyond belief when I procured a CD player of my very own.

My interest in Andrew Lloyd Webber led me to Cats and Jesus Christ Superstar and Evita. I loved to sing (and still do) the big numbers (generally ballads) at the top of my lungs. My favorites are Memory from Cats, I Don't Know How To Love Him from Jesus Christ Superstar and Don't Cry For Me, Argentina from Evita. Best of Andrew Lloyd Webber albums led me to the songs Tell Me On A Sunday from the musical of the same name, and the insanely beautiful song Nothing Like You've Ever Known from Song and Dance. I feel that I should admit that I can't hit the high note in Memory. At least not consistently.

Through my sister, Wendy, and French class of all things, I developed an obsession with Les Miserables. There was a time when I knew and could sing every single note of that musical. Seriously, every single note. It is actually one of my life goals to play the part of Eponine in a production of Les Miserables. I'm not sure I've ever mention that to anyone but since that window's pretty much closed (unless I find a community production somewhere) I don't suppose that it much matters now.

Les Miserables led me to Miss Saigon which has some truly spectacular music that just begs you to put on your headphones and sing until your lungs ache. Or is that just me? I even managed to stumble onto Chess and the works of Stephen Sondheim.

And let's not forget Gershwin. My senior year of high school, I was fortunate enough to go on a class trip to New York City to see the musical Crazy For You on Broadway itself. It was a mash up of Gershwin songs and if there's one thing I love to sing, it's Gershwin. This particular production starred Jodi Benson (it also starred Harry Groener who went on to play the season three villain in Buffy The Vampire Slayer) who I had come to adore after her turn as the voice of Ariel in the classic Disney animated movie, The Little Mermaid. I took this as a sign that my life was meant to be spent on stage singing the songs I loved.

I didn't quite make it that far. What's that they say about the best laid plans?

Instead, I sing the songs I love in the shower. Back in my college dorm room days, I would wait for the shower to be free and the bathroom empty before going in because I wanted to sing. The bathroom had some really good acoustics that I loved to take advantage of. One time, I came out to find there was actually a group of students sitting in the common area nearest the bathroom. Apparently, they had gathered there to listen while I was running through my repertoire and it had not occurred to me that perhaps my singing could be heard throughout the entire floor.

Really, I'm smart in many other ways.

Once, in a vocal recital, I was supposed to perform the song Fine White Horse from the little known musical The Secret Garden (based on the classic children's novel. The music is unbelievably beautiful. I highly recommend it.). It was my senior year of high school and I'd been doing a lot of performing for different groups at the time between regular chorus and select chorus and all state chorus and whatever else I had going on at the time that by the time I got to the vocal recital, I just completely and totally blanked on the lyrics for the song. And, unlike my other number (an Italian aria), I couldn't just make up random syllables and expect the audience to buy it. Although the recital was in a retirement home so there was always the chance that they really couldn't hear me anyway.

Maybe not one of my finest performances ever. Oh well. Everyone has one, right?

But as much as I love the older Broadway shows, I also have to talk about the new musicals. Now, I am going to admit that I have become a little out of touch with the newest crop of Broadway offerings. I know a couple of things from Wicked and Rent but I am woefully uneducated in this area. So the new musicals to which I am referring are courtesy of my crush, the one man (well, maybe one of two men) I would totally stalk (in a completely harmless kind of way, I swear)...Joss Whedon.

I am, of course, referring to Once More With Feeling (See above) and Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog. These musicals I love to sing from beginning to end at the top of my lungs. What makes that experience even more enjoyable is the look on people's faces when the lyrics register with them and they realize they have no idea what the hell I'm singing about. There's also, for you Harry Potter fans out there, A Very Potter Musical which is available for view on youtube. I don't know all those songs yet but I'm working on it.

Joe is so thrilled.

I've often thought that I should just record a CD of my own, just singing the Broadway songs I love to sing at the very top of my lungs (see a recurring theme here?). I'm sure there's a huge demand for just such a CD (it's just one of the many ways in which I am disillusioned). Here's what that play list would look like (limiting my choices to no more than three songs per musical and listed in no particular order):

1. On My Own from Les Miserables

2. It's Never That Easy/I've Been Here Before from Closer Than Ever

3. Someone To Watch Over Me from Crazy For You

4. Out Here On My Own from Fame

5. Maybe This Time from Cabaret

6. Fine White Horse from The Secret Garden (I have to redeem myself!)

7. Back On Bass from Closer Than Ever

8. But Not For Me from Crazy For You

9. Heaven Help My Heart from Chess

10. How Could I Have Known from The Secret Garden

11. I Still Believe from Miss Saigon

12. Tell Me On A Sunday from Song and Dance

13. Another Suitcase, Another Hall from Evita

14. Patterns from Closer Than Ever

15. Losing My Mind from Follies

16. I Dreamed a Dream from Les Miserables

17. Someone Else's Story from Chess

18. Nothing Like You've Ever Known from Song and Dance

19. Gethsemane from Jesus Christ Superstar

20. Now That I've Seen Her from Miss Saigon

21. Unexpected Song from Song and Dance

22. I'd Give My Life For You from Miss Saigon

23. Defying Gravity from Wicked (provided, of course, that I could manage to properly hit the high note at the end.)

Well, this is getting to be quite the long CD, isn't it? And, if you're at all familiar with the Broadway musicals I listed above, you'll notice that they're mostly the big power ballad songs because I love to sing the big power ballad songs. There's something awesome about singing those big power notes at the song's emotional climax. You can't beat that feeling. But, as awesome as my track list is (and it is quite awesome), it's rather incomplete because it doesn't include anything Harry Potter related or anything written by Joss Whedon.

Looks like this is a job for some bonus tracks!

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