There are a lot of negatives about performing. How competitive it is. How bitchy people can be. How you are constantly being judged. The rejection. The comparisons. Lots of things. It can be a very negative industry at times, which can be very stressful, and where you can feel very alone. But yesterday I was also reminded of how many positives there are, and what a wonderful business it can be. As you know, I was singing in a concert last night. It was a charity concert, starring a well known performer, and I was one of a number of other soloists, most of whom are professionals. I felt very lucky to not only be performing alongside such a fantastically talented and successful performer, but one who was so generous and giving, and such a lovely person. I had met her before a couple of times last year when I did some workshops with her, and knew that she was very nice and genuine, but I wasn't expecting her to be nearly as hands on yesterday as she was. We had a run through in the afternoon, and I fairly naturally assumed she would just come out to sing her songs, and spend the rest of the time in her dressing room. Instead, she sung her songs, then came and sat out in the auditorium and watched every single one of the soloists. She jumped up and down making suggestions, and helping when people were struggling with anything, and giving people advice on their song, and just generally being so supportive and helpful, which was far beyond what she needed to do. She could, and I think most performers would, have just come out and sung her own songs and ignored what everyone else was doing, but she just got really involved, and it was so nice to see such an experienced performer giving back in that way. She is a wonderful example of how great this business can be. And how sometimes even the people at the top of their game will really make an effort to help others who are still on their way up. In fact, I think it is often the people who are at the top who are the least diva-ish. Yesterday there was absolutely no bitchiness. Everyone got on really well. All the other soloists were lovely and we had great fun in our dressing room. It was just a really lovely example of what a fantastic industry it can be.
The actual run through was difficult for me. There were still pretty severe issues going on with the band timing wise, which was making it virtually impossible for me to know when to come in, so we had to do the start a few times to get it right, and I was worried it was me messing up, but it was apparently the band. In the end we got going and got all the way through, but my voice was really hurting, and it was getting really croaky - mostly actually in the dialogue bits rather than the singing. I was still really not confident with the timing - the scoring for the band part was COMPLETELY different to the normal sheet music, which is obviously what I have been used to rehearsing with - there were random extra bars in some places, and missing bars in others, and it was all a bit all over the place, and therefore worrying. I went down into the auditorium afterwards and was talking to the lead who said 'That scoring is really strange - I have always done it like X (at which point both of us went da da da da da daa da da da da etc, and established we were used to the same version!). It would completely confuse me like that!' I replied that it was completely confusing me too, and she said she would have a word with the MD (who was too stressed for anyone apart from her to dare speak to!) and see if we could go through it again, which she did, but the rehearsal ran on so late that there was absolutely no time to do anything again. But she did get her to make sure she was giving me really clear signals as to when to come in, as in the run through I couldn't tell when she was bringing me in and when she was bringing the band in, which was obviously very confusing. Usually it is fine, because they look at you, but the band were on stage, and so the MD was behind us, and so we saw her via a screen at the front of the stage, but obviously with that you can't see when she is actually looking at you. So it was all quite different for me, and the band part really was confusing - it would have been nice if it had been closer to the original scoring, both for the band and for me!
I was quite stressed between the run through and the performance, because I had no idea if I was going to be able to get the timing right or not, and there was nothing I could do about it. I desperately wanted another run through, but there wasn't the opportunity. From the end of the run through, time just flew. We all started putting on our make up, and getting our hair done, and getting into costume etc, and time just flew. Suddenly the concert had started, and time just whizzed by. I wasn't on until half way through the second half, so had plenty of time to get ready, which is lucky really, as I was still nowhere near ready by the time some of the other girls in my dressing room had already performed! I also nearly fell down the stairs at one point, which was slightly embarrassing, as it was right outside the number 1 dressing room, and I kind of screamed and swore at the same time, just as the lead had walked into her dressing room, so she dashed out to see if I was ok. Stupid shoes!
My actual performance went ok. I was nervous about the band because of the issues at the rehearsal, and I was worried about my voice. It could have been better - it would have been better if I hadn't been ill. But it wasn't a disaster. Through gluing my eyes to the screen at the appropriate times I managed to get all the timing right, and I think vocally it was reasonably strong apart from one note that cracked slightly due to my chest/throat. Some of the dialogue did sound slightly croaky, but there really was nothing I could do about that - I was supporting as much as I possibly could, but I have a chest infection, and no amount of support was going to get rid of that! I believe there were some slight mic issues too - it felt like it was fading in and out a bit, and my dad commented on it, but that wasn't uncommon - it happened to several people. So overall it was ok. I wasn't entirely happy with my performance, but then I very rarely am, and I feel like I did my best under the circumstances. And it was a really good day, where I met lots of lovely people, performed in the biggest theatre I have ever worked in, had some nice chats and laughs with a performer I have always admired greatly, and had the opportunity to sing in the same concert as her. I feel very lucky to have had that opportunity, and it reminded me of all the brilliant things about performing, and the business, and other performers. She really is true class, both on stage and off.