|Me as Katie Brown in Calamity Jane, 2008|
I opened my mouth, took a deep breath and the words came tumbling out in a river of pure musical theatre schmaltz.
It’s been a year since I’ve done any singing, having decided to take a break from my local am-dram society. “I’m resting, darling” has a deliciously diva-esque ring to it, don’t you think?
I’ve been involved with the Spalding Amateur Dramatic and Operatic Society (SADOS…and yes, we probably are) since 2002 and this was the first year I wasn’t involved in their Spring musical. Yes, I’ve been enjoying the break from organising publicity, line-learning and the stomach-churning angst of preparing for a show. But, truth be told, a life without any jitters, panic and stress can be a little bland. Plus I’ve missed my friends; the silly giggles, the goofing around, the “we’ll never be ready in time” hyperbole which is a permanent feature of every show we do.
So, last night, I popped along to rehearsals for a concert which is being performed at the end of October. It’s not going to be a full-blown production at the theatre but it’s a small injection of musical adrenalin I think I need. What’s rather daft is that I’m not even going to be available on the night in question. However, the same set will be performed at another ‘gig’ we have, two short stints in the town centre for the Christmas light switch-on in early December, and I’m around that weekend.
The pressure is off because, as I’m not going to be there for the first performance, I will just be singing in the chorus. With that in mind, I happily took my seat last night, after the obligatory luvvie hugs, and warbled along in the ensemble.
I didn’t quite anticipate what would happen as I started to sing some of the ‘old favourites’. Tunes and lyrics came flooding back to me. The harmony for The Black Hills of Dakota (Calamity Jane) came bubbling up, unannounced, from the far recess of my mind and I was transported back to 2008 where I had played Katie Brown, the frightened phoney actress from Chicagy, singing Keep it Under Your Hat intentionally off-key. For some reason I remembered the first night when Calamity and I were singing A Woman’s Touch; someone had covered the tablecloth with too much muck so when we lifted it at both corners to shake it out, we were covered in dust and could hardly breathe, never mind sing.
The title song from Anything Goes; as I sang the words “In olden days a glimpse of stocking” I was there in 2003 for my first speaking role with the society. I was the purser of the ship, a role normally taken by a man but we were short of fellas that year so I got my chance to march about in a bossy fashion and even tap dance, dressed in an extremely thick, fetid, wool suit during an unbearably hot week in June.
At home today I’ve rooted around to find all my mementos from previous shows: photographs, good luck cards, newspaper clippings. Plus I am annoying the family immensely by playing all the CDs from the musicals. I’ve discovered this new kitchen of mine, with its tiled floor, is bloody ace to sing in….LOUDLY!