Saturday, September 12, 2009

The healing power of Wolski's

So we had a blessed day off on Thursday and now we are deep in the throes of tech.  We had our first onstage spacing rehearsal on Friday night, and today we have a mammoth 12-hour tech with all the bells and whistles.  Tomorrow is more tech and a piano dress.   This is always an interesting juncture in putting together a show.  You spend 2 1/2 weeks creating a story, and then you systematically take it apart and put it back together in a new space with lights, set, and props.  Even during the smoothest of tech rehearsals, it takes some time to get 'your show' back once you move into the hall.  The beautiful thing about the Cabot Theatre is that is very intimate, so the move from rehearsal room to hall isn't quite as dramatic.  

On our day off, I went out with two dear friends, Katy (our kick-ass Rosina) and Jamie (our pianist, recit master, and general bottle washer).  We had lovely dinner and drinks at a place called The Knick, and Jamie and I continued our evening at an old Milwaukee institution (and one of my favorite bars in the world), Wolski's.  For the uninitiated, Wolski's is a true neighborhood bar- homey, friendly, smoky and convivial.  A dive, is what I'm saying.  One of the best parts of going to Wolski's is that when you shut it down you get a bumper sticker proudly stating "I closed Wolski's."  I have several, including a shiny new one.

I have had many a great night with Jamie at Wolski's, and the other night was no exception.  We spoke of many things (fools and kings), but the part that is pertinent ("pertinent" is in air quotes of course) to this blog is his impression of how Figaro is going for me.  Now I've known JJ  for over 10 years, and he has seen me in the whole gamut of roles, from basso buffo to lyric baritone.  He is also a beautifully honest person, and had lots of opinions to share with me over pitchers of Schlitz (the proportion of honesty to Schlitz consumption is direct).  Although he said that I'm sounding the best I ever have, the part that was most useful to me is how he noticed that the best sound I make in the whole show is when I play drunk in the Count/Figaro duet.  It's his theory that it may be because I'm physically so loosey goosey during that moment, and that is allowing me to get more bang for my buck, vocally speaking.  I think he is on to something, and that even though I basically feel good about this role, the fact remains that I have a lot of expectations about how this role should sound and I'm sure that manifests itself physically in how I sing it (mostly Largo).  I think I 'lock and load' some of the high notes instead of just trusting that they will be there and be magnificent.  And Figaro is dude to whom everything comes easy- the high notes need to be easy too....and they are easy.  So why do I physically 'set' myself for them? I think I need to let go of my baggage on my journey through this role, and remember that I can pick it back up whenever I want to.  But to let go of it and find the ease.  The beautiful thing is that I have 12 performances to play around with the vocalism, and I need to give myself permission to play just like I have in the last few Nozze productions I've done.  

Our conversation went late into the night with this cherished artist and good friend.  Ah, Wolski's....thanks for facilitating such rich dialectic.  We were golden with bar light and beer.

I'll keep you posted on how it goes with easing up.  But now, back to tech.  


PS- Jamie and I may or may not have done a broadway song-and-dance version of 'On Eagle's Wings' while waiting for a light cue to be written.

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