Wednesday, February 21, 2007

I always wanted to be a mime--NOT.

Okay, just because I know you all are wondering, and because I must keep up my reputation as the winner of the Poppy Award for most feral cat posts in a single blog, I will update you (briefly) on the exploits of Dolly and McBeady. Well, McBeady dove into the water and pulled Dolly out, only to have her "die" on the table...oh, wait. That's McDREAMY. My bad. McBEADY has been keeping a low profile. I know he's been by a time or two to mooch food, 'cause I've smelled him, but as far as I know there's only been one late-night booty call. I will give him this, though--the boy is willing to spend the rest of the night cuddling. Actually, he and Dolly seemed to have had a lovely entire MORNING in bed a couple of days ago, as they were still there cuddling when I went home for lunch. I think I'm a little jealous. (How embarrassing for me. Hee.)

On to other things.

I seem to be trying to catch a cold--no, wait. I hate that expression. I am trying very hard NOT to catch a cold. Zicam, echinacea, vitamin C--you name it, I've popped it. I rarely get colds--it's been 3 years almost exactly since my last one. Why do I remember so exactly, you ask? Funny story...

Three years ago I was cast in a musical. I hadn't done a full-out musical in 15+ years, at that point. For whatever reason, I tend to prefer that my theatre be theatre and my music be music, but I decided to make an exception. It seemed like a fun show--kind of "Greater Tuna"-esqe in that 5 actors are cast to play 35-40 characters, and it's all lightning-fast quick changes. Over 100 quick changes in the wings--thank god for the dressers. And lots of running madly through the cross-over to re-enter the stage on the opposite side of where you just exited as a different character. Fun stuff. We experienced some adversity along the way to opening night: a cast member dropped out and was replaced by someone who was...less talented, the director/choreographer dropped out and was replaced by a director who couldn't choreograph and then we had to find a choreographer. It was a little stressful, to say the least, and tech week was a nightmare, but by opening night, we had a pretty darned good show. There was a big themey shindig/gala before the show on opening night for patrons willing to shell out extra bucks for such, and I stopped by to say hello to some friends there on my way to the theatre. Probably shouldn't have done that, as I think that may have been where the cold bug bit me. At any rate, opening night was a great success. Kudos all around!

The next morning I awoke with a bit of a tickle in my throat, but it wasn't bad, and I didn't have any trouble performing in the matinee that afternoon. We had several days off before the next weekend's perforances, so I thought I'd be fine. All week long, I took my zinc, my echinacea, my Throat Comfort tea, but come Thursday night, I took a definite turn for the worse. I made it through Thursday night's show okay--actually my voice sounded and felt pretty good by the second act. I went to bed confident I'd passed the hump.

What was I thinking with all this optimism? This is MY life we're talking about. Friday morning I was much, much worse. I started to panic--this is volunteer theatre, and there are no understudies. What if I couldn't go on? I remembered a college classmate having cortisone shot into his nose to enable him to get through his starring role in West Side Story. I remembered hearing about some miracle injection Madonna's doctors give her when her voice flags on tour. I pulled out the phonebook and discovered not a single Ear, Nose and Throat doctor in this town works on Friday. I called my GP, and tried to relay the urgency of the situation to the receptionist. "Yes, I know it's just a cold, but I have to go onstage tonight and sing and dance in front of 400 people--I need help!" She squeezed me in for an appointment that morning, and the doctor prescribed oral prednisone, but I'm sorry to report that oral pred is NOT the miracle Madonna cure I was hoping for.

Friday night's show was brutal. To add to the fun, my period started about 10 minutes before places. I threw down a big handful of ibuprofen and thanked god that it didn't start 10 minutes after places, but it sure didn't help my general feeling of doom. But the show must go on, right? Right. I set up a little medicine cabinet in the wings--cough drops, throat spray, Throat Comfort tea and a honey bear, but the voice just got worse and worse, and my spirits dragged and dragged. Between every scene, I took to squirting honey straight down my throat,and between the sugar and the cold meds, every nerve in my body was just JANGLING. More than once I came offstage and pleaded with my dresser: "Just shoot me. SOMEBODY PLEASE JUST SHOOT ME."

Nobody would.

By the end of the show, I was "dramatically speaking" all my big songs. I'm told, and I hope they weren't just being kind, that it kind of worked, in a way. I dragged myself home after the curtain call, comforting myself that it surely couldn't get any worse.

Saturday morning my voice was gone. Absolutely, completely gone. I called the producer and managed to squeak out enough of a whisper that he knew what was up. "Don't worry," he said, "we'll figure something out. Just show up at the theatre a little early tonight." When I got to the theatre, there was a plan. The musical director would sing my songs from her position onstage at the piano, and the stage director would read my lines from a position to the side of the stage. I would lip-synch, songs AND dialogue, and do the dances/blocking/costume changes. And, not to toot my own horn, but I am apparently one helluva lip-syncher. They said, from the back of the theatre, it looked real. We had, of course, announced to the audience what was going on--we weren't REALLY trying to fool anyone, but I'm told it was a little spooky nonetheless. And you know what? That show, by comparison, was FUN! I had been so miserable, trying to get through the previous two shows with my failing voice, that to be told all I had to do was go out there and mime it? Utter relief. I danced and gestured and mimed my little heart out. Hee. That was the night my family and several friends had chosen to attend, of course, but at least they got to see something different, right?

My voice stayed gone for several days, and I swore I'd never do another musical during cold and flu season, a vow I've kept, though I did do another musical that summer. WITH A BROKEN ARM. (Is the universe trying to tell me something?) I haven't had a cold since. Until now, maybe...though I plan to keep up the fight. Help me, Zicam--you're my only hope. And I'd still like to know more about the mythical Madonna injection--maybe it's just Kabbalah water! Hee.

11 comments:

Edge said...

You have some of the best stories.

~Jef

don't call me MA'AM said...

Is Throat Comfort the same thing as Throat Coat? I swear by that stuff!!!

Every musical I've ever done has been in the November to March time frame... not smart. Then there was the year we did Brigadoon, and I had to sing through a very bad fog machine. That thing ruined my voice!

Great story!!

don't call me MA'AM said...

Oh, and I forgot to mention... Amy Grant swears by greasy potato chips... right before singing. She says the grease is a natural lubricant for the vocal folds. I've never tried that, but thought it interesting enough anyway.

lizgwiz said...

jef, thanks! I think. Hee.

dcmm, Throat Comfort and Throat Coat are similar, but Throat Comfort has more licorice in it--I just like the taste better. Either way, good stuff. And a valid reason for eating greasy chips? I'll have to test that out. ;)

-R- said...

I can't believe you lip synced. That is really cool!

georgeious said...

derek says claritin is the secret ingredient when you get a cold, but i personally swear by the quil. orange during the day, green death at night. throw in some chewable vitamin c and lots of tomato soup and i'm happy.

but wait... i'm totally high on the quil right now, so what the hell do i know anyway, right?

stefanie said...

I'm glad no one shot you. That's the kind of favor people really shouldn't grant.

Also, I love that you are jealous of a cat. I am jealous that they can grow a paunch and sleep all day without criticism, but it never occurred to me to be jealous of the cuddling.

lizgwiz said...

-r-, in retrospect, it was kind of cool. Not that I wouldn't have preferred to, oh, you know..SING, but it made for a good story.

george, I'm still hoping to nip this thing in the bud, but I will keep your recommendation in mind. ;)

stef, I am often jealous of my cats--what a life! They sleep 18 hours a day, and when they're not sleeping, they have someone waiting on them hand and foot and telling them how beautiful they are.

Noelle said...

That reminds me of the time we did "Into the Woods" my freshman year of college. (I ran the sound board.) It was the first performance in the brand new shiny theatre, and the baker got larangitis. Then, he gave it to his wife. Then, she gave it to the prince. He, in turn gave it to Cinderella, who, by the second day of the run had no voice at all. Because there were no understudies, she spoke all of her lines, and sometimes other characters sang her lines. It was really odd to watch the duet with Little Red and Cinderella where Little Red comforted herself. I've never been so happy to be a tecchie way up in the booth away from all the germy mess. The show must go on, I guess.

Paisley said...

OMG that is just the worst! I think Madonna had a steroid inahler or maybe I'm thinking of some other singer...

I taught HS theatre and a lot of kids would get the shots so they could sing and we kept a huge stock in Throat Coat tea. I'm glad you got through it!

lizgwiz said...

noelle, it ran through our cast, as well, but everyone else got it during rehearsals. Damn me and my sturdy immune system--I had to be the last to fall!

paisley, I know I always heard Madonna had SOMEthing. Wish I'd known for sure what it was; I could have been more specific with my doctor.