Growing up it is easy to feel like you don’t belong. When you aren’t quite the smartest or most athletic it’s tough to find a place that accepts you for everything else you have to offer. Thankfully I had the blessing of attending a Broadway show when I was younger. I sat in the New Amsterdam theatre watching Mary Poppins fly over the audience, and then perform the most beautiful tap number with a company of dancers while they were singing their hearts out. I knew that I had to be a part of something just like that. I immediately got involved in theatre through camps and school and later I would attend countless class and workshops to work toward my passion. Performing gives me the ability to be anyone I want to be. I can be someone similar to me and work through some real-life experience through the character or I can be a completely different person and get to experience something so different from my life. The people themselves that participate in theatre are just some of the most caring people I have encountered. They accept everyone for their own weird selves which is something that is not too common. With this community of people, we are able to perform these beautiful stories for the people crazy enough to come and watch.
Bailey theTheatre geek
I absolutely love musicals. I can geek out about them legitimately all of the time. (Seriously just ask anyone who even vaguely knows me). Above is a picture of my high school's performance of Shrek the musical, where I was featured as Humpty Dumpty. Shrek meant so much to me as a show because it is where I finally felt like I clicked in high school, not to mentioned the songs are fantastic. I think the story meant so much because it showed a princess who wasn't afraid to be loud and speak her mind which is something I'm quite good at. For me theatre helps me to find myself and connect to others. I was recently watching a TED talk that talked about the importance of connecting with others in not such a superficial way. It is easy to get up on stage and perform but what's hard is connecting with yourself and with the audience to deliver a genuine performance. That authenticity is also developed through the process of putting on a show and relying on your cast and crew that you have each others back for each missed cue or dropped line. So basically theatre works as an important platform where actors can connect with their cast, the audience members can connect with each other and the two can come together.
Okay before we can even hop into musical theatre itself can we just start with breaking it down into its simplest parts. Singing, dancing, and acting. To be perfect at all three is called a triple threat which is what is needed to get anywhere in theatre. Out of all three I probably weakest in dance and strongest in singing. Mostly because I have been trained for 9 years. But its really not until these past 2 years that I have become confident in my singing. Through a mix of being a cantor for church choir and messing around with songs with my friend I really think I have become more confident in my abilities. Trust me I am so far from "perfect," or even "pretty good". I'm settling for a nice "not bad." (But not to brag Father Pilarz personally requested me to sing a special mass.) Any way when I was little I was always a soprano because no one thought I could do much and sopranos have the worst reputation for being dumb and not being able to sing anything besides the melody. But in high school I was trained as an alto which really felt so cool to add in harmonies and add in this beautiful dimension to the music. Though since I was an alto for so long no one thought I could sing high until I played an opera singer senior year. casually. Anyway here at good old Scranny I am a solid Soprano 1. And in fact today I just sang through a lot of Phantom of the Opera and singing those high notes with such a rich sound was just so much fun. My friends had only thought I could play a Meg, (the alto supporting character with 16 bars of a solo) but singing through a handful of songs just made me so excited the fact that I have trained so long and can actually sing such an iconic role.
Warning: I'm the type of theatre kid who when you say literally anything I can relate it to a song from Broadway.
Rent & Spike Lee
So in class today when we were talking about different movies Spike Lee came up a lot. And I could hear his name being sung in my head, and I realized he has come up in a Broadway show before. In Rent the musical, (which I promise relates well to the lesson in class, more on that later) there is a scene where two potential love interests meet while bonding over AIDs and drugs, obviously a typical love story. Mimi is trying to get Roger to light a candle for her because she figures he's the hot neighbor upstairs he must have a match. Turns out her hunch was right and Rodger gave her a match to light the candle. But since Rodger is the hot neighbor upstairs she blows out the candle to spend more time talking to him. It is then revealed Rodger eventually gives Mimi his last match. Instead of being a Debbie downer, Mimi looks to the moon to be grateful for at least a little light. Roger, being the broody has been rockstar he is says "Maybe it's not the moon at all. I hear Spike Lee's shooting down the street."
This line already existed in the musical written in 1996. Nine years later the film was turned into a movie and the director was almost Spike Lee himself, but the job ended up going to Christopher Columbus. So it is a fun little Easter egg for fans that was unintentional at the time it was written.
Also this video has me geeking out because the woman who is playing Mimi, Renee Elise Goldsberry, is the original Angelica Schuyler from Hamilton. And at one point the three Schuyler sisters who were on Broadway had all played Mimi at some point in their careers!
Below is a clip of the Schuyler sisters, Goldsberry is in blue. Even from her first note in the song you can hear her talent. Surprisingly at first she didn't audition for Hamilton but wanted to invest in it because she didn't think she would make it. Cut to her originating this brilliant role in a revolutionary show.
If you are still confused on what the heck Rent is, I'm sure you have probably heard this song. (There is a little surprise in this video if you skip to the middle to 1:28)
But Rent also came to mind in class today because we were talking about how art is supposed to make you feel uncomfortable. That is exactly what Rent does. Rent talks about AIDs at the turn of the century, something not discussed very much especially not a Broadway stage. Until Johnathan Larson (the writer) came along. He incorporated so many taboos including drag, gay and lesbian couples, gentrification, an actual diverse group of people on stage, as well as "people living with, living with, living with, not dying from disease." There is even a number specifically targeting their straitlaced old friend making him feel uncomfortable mentioning the realities of their lives.
If you have a chance to listen to this song, do it. It's fantastic. Larson incorporates so many concepts into one amazing song, I could go into such an analysis on it, but alas I will not. Basically this show broke down a lot of things that were never discussed on broadway that are now embraced in that community. Even the main charity of Broadway is Equity fights AIDs. (They do an amazing job fundraising, check it out) But this show is really the first time that I was exposed to such a wide variety of concepts that were foreign to me in my sheltered life in a town of 1800.
My Two Show day
My mom and I have been seeing shows together since forever. Forever being seventh grade. We make mother daughter days of going to the city just to see shows and it truly is my favorite time. Before I came along both my parents knew nothing about theatre, they maybe went to a show at their high school (my dad went to school with a dude in the NFL and he was Danny in Grease). But besides that, theatre wasn't their jam. But ever since I fell in love, they have supported me so very much and I couldn't be more grateful. They come to every show I'm in no matter what, most of the time even every performance. And my mom is really improving with her Broadway trivia- she'll throw a song lyric or two out there once in a while.
Just started listening to Mean Girls the musical and let me tell you I'm in love. I got immediate chills from just the first few bars. Be prepared for some geeking out coming up.
I just love a new musical. Truly nothing compares to falling in love with a new group of people and following their journey on stage. When I first listened to Mean Girls there was something so special in the music, I started picking it up right away and just got more excited each time a new song came on. While I love singing Cady's parts I could never play her because she is a crazy math girlie and I am not. Fun fact though I did play a math prodigy in a show where I had to memorize a handful of calculus equations to rattle off like I knew what I was saying. But one of my favorite characters has to be Damion. He sings a song called " Where Do You Belong?" which is where he recreates the iconic scene of the movie where him and Janet show Cady around the lunchroom explaining all of the cliques. The number was just the most perfect fit. It has such a classic musical theatre feel, complete with a full show choir and a tap number. There is even a nod to Funny Girl with the line "It takes all kind of people who need people". Get it? no. Just me? cool. Anyway for such a modern musical it really hits all the major points of a musical.
Quick Theatre lesson!
So there are different types of songs:
There are the typical ballad (love song), comedy numbers (I'm usually cast in these roles), charm songs (where the character tries to win over the audience), and musical numbers (dialogue and song are blended with multiple characters). Sometimes these can be called Showstoppers. They make sense in the show but they get the audience excited about the show and really just full of love for musical theatre.
But then there is also a more traditional breakdown
The I am song which explain a character(s) and their situation.
The I want song where the character shares with the audience what they want and desire most.
And new songs which is a song that doesn’t fit in either category. For example it could be used to break up the storyline of a more tragic story.
BUT this wasn’t always the case. In early theatre history musicals tried to include popular songs from the time into the story (Like a jukebox musical where the songs don’t drive the storyline). Surprisingly it wasn’t really until Rodgers and Hammerstein came along that the modern definition of a musical really came along. The modern musical uses the lines, songs and dance to drive the plot forward. Where before Rodgers and Hammerstein the plot stopped and was interrupted by an unrelated song or dance. Just for reference of shows by Rodgers and Hammerstein so you’re not completely lost, they include Oklahoma!, The Sound of Music, Carousel, South Pacific, and The King and I.
Anyway not only are the songs themselves important, but the placement is super important as well.
The placement usually goes as follows... (The most iconic examples are included in links)
The Opening Number: this sets the scene for the entire show, and introduces you to all of the characters and their journey for the show.
The Main “I Want” Song: remember we mentioned this before! It usually happens in the beginning of act one where they share their motivating desire. Most of the time it quite literally uses the words “I want” or “I wish”.
The Eleven O’clock Number: traditionally named after the time it was performed, now it usually happens at about 10:00. This number is truly show-stopping where the main character comes to a significant realization.
The Finale: This ties up all loose ends and is usually emotional and powerful. Sometimes it is in an exciting “Yeah! Lets go change the world!” But a good amount of the time there is a solid reprise of a previous song that really gets the audience in the feels. People usually die.
Anyway basically Mean Girls follows this so very well and I'm just a huge nerd :)
So this past weekend I got to debut my costumes for a photoshoot for the Liva show! I cannot even begin to describe how exciting it was to see everyone actually wearing everything we made. It was so fun because I sewed a bunch of the costumes with my grandma (I have the link below to the instagram takeover).
I've always been fascinated with costumes and I absolutely love that aspect of theatre, it really just adds so much. It is so rewarding because it is such a tangible job, so I can really see all of the details in each costume. But the job does not seem as daunting until you're knee deep in costumes all over your floor. (See exhibit A below)
Anyway here is a sneak peek at the costumes for the show next week!
So the show was really a success!! The costumes ended up being so vibrant and so much fun. Heres a little look at how it turned out. I truly had so much fun on the creative team side of the show and I can't wait to start planning for the next show.