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worldwide penguin | musical theatre | show clips

shows and various other performances

Digital media make catching memorable moments so easy nowadays. Here are some clips from various theatre exploits.

You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown, Fall 2008

At last, I am able to complete the circle that I began almost two years ago. I didn’t know much about musical theatre then, but I knew that You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown’s “Sally” was a role I was dying to play. All it took was one glimpse of “My New Philosophy” to convince me that this was a character I would love. To play a role originated by Kristin Chenoweth, for which she won her first Tony Award, is not only icing on the cake, it almost takes my breath away when I stop to think about it. Perhaps fate stepped in to allow me to close out my brief exploration of musical theatre by taking the stage as the “goofy yet lovable” Sally Brown.

I wish these videos could better convey the live experience of mirth and music at each moment. I have read that movie musicals are losing ground in the challenge to deliver their onstage magic through the screen. I can see what they mean. Yet, although they cannot substitute for the live performance, these clips stir the magic of that experience in my memory and my heart.

Take a tour of the YAGMCB photos if you’d like.

“My New Philosophy”
Sally explains to Schroeder, played by Erik, that when circumstances are less than optimal, we can always find a new mantra to get us through. Janet plays Lucy, and there is a hysterical picture of her screaming in this scene.

“The Chain of Command”
One of my favorite scenes is when Sally tries to explain the lay of the land to Snoopy, played by Hughie. This is an early taping; it evolved over the ten-day run (as do many of my scenes — I guess that means I’m learning), and I nearly always had to bite my cheeks from laughing.

“Coathanger”
This level of grade-grubbing would do a pre-med proud.

“Beethoven Day”
This song is always a fun excuse to do the Carlton dance.

“The Red Baron Melodrama”
For me, the hardest part of the show was a part where I wasn’t even on stage. I am guessing that Andrew Lippa purposefully created a place to make judicious use of Kristin Chenoweth’s extraordinary talent and vocal technique as an opera singer, not anywhere that might seem contrived and out of character, but in the background of Snoopy’s Red Baron monologue. I was always ridiculously nervous during this part. I had only one night where I was completely relaxed; I remember it distinctly, and it was the most beautiful feeling, like I was soaring. Obviously that night was not this one. But I do what I can.

“Happiness”
The finale is a beautiful song that makes me feel warm inside.

Godspell, Fall 2008

Godspell was an awesome learning experience. (Go here for a quick photo narrative.) In addition to some demanding soprano parts, the nature of the show — we step up to play various roles in a series of parables, so there’s literally no “backstage area” and no down time besides intermission — required of us all a certain endurance and focus that I imagine is a bit more intense than a typical show. I must qualify my statement by acknowledging that Godspell was really only my second musical and third show (after Miss Saigon and Final Respects), so I don’t have that much experience. But even if I did, I think I’d still have to say that I was blessed to be with this cast and crew, the show was amazing, and I’ll always have its memories.

Prescott, my amazing darling boyfriend (ha, not really, he can be a major punk sometimes), caught these video clips with my little digital camera’s movie mode. Some day, I will get a real video camera, but for now, this will have to do. Prescott actually came twice, once when we had sign language interpreters (pretty cool, huh?) and again on closing night. I asked him to come again because I wasn’t happy with my performance on the first night he came (stupid nerves), so he graciously assented. He says he couldn’t tell the difference, but I can. He was such a good sport, he came even though he was sniffling with a cold.

The Lazarus parable and “Learn Your Lessons Well”
Copping a NYC cabbie accent and ’tude was fun =) Too bad you can’t really see my facial expressions; I’m pretty funny as a wiseass. I remember the first time Bob (the director) asked me to do it with an accent: he said, “Think gangster, like the Sopranos.” I was utterly confuzzled, wondering what gangsters had to do with sopranos, and ventured, “Uhh…I think I’m a soprano…?”

“By My Side”
I was totally pumped to sing this duet with Melissa. It’s my favorite song, along with “Light of the World.” Unfortunately, my little camera cannot capture how powerful the music is. It has some really tight harmonies; there were some points where we were maybe a half or whole step apart, making for some major dissonance. Melissa’s voice is bigger and stronger, but by the time opening night rolled around, we were well-balanced, and the song was absolutely moving. That sense of sound waves surging around you and carrying you is something that can never be fully captured outside of a live performance.

I have to say, too, that until seeing this video, I did not fully appreciate Melissa’s performance because I couldn’t see or hear her as well from where I was sitting. I wish we could have taped the whole show, because I’m sure there were many more such moments where the effect is best appreciated from the audience’s perspective.

“All Good Gifts”
This video is actually from my friend Carlos, and this is his song in the show. While searching for a Godspell logo graphic, I came across the casting info listed at Music Theatre International’s site. It says,

“All Good Gifts Soloist:
The slow, beautiful ballad of Godspell. Of all
the songs in the show, this one demands
your most beautiful voice.”

That’s it! No mention of anyone else, not even Jesus or Judas! And they were so right: Carlos has an incredible voice =)

Again, I have to say that after seeing this video, I reall wish we could have taped the whole show, because I’m sure there were many more such moments where I missed out on really cool stuff that the whole cast was doing. We sounded so much better than I thought! Obviously, the balance is better when heard from the audience.

PS: the little lone-girl duet with Carlos at about 2:20 on “for all his lo-o-o-o-ove” is me!

Final Respects, Summer 2008

Final Respects is a comedy-drama written and directed by Tim Sagges at the Burlington County Footlighters in Cinnaminson, NJ. It is about a funeral and the deceased’s family secrets and issues, which unravel and are resolved in the course of the play. Not unlike Steel Magnolias, the story is built around a tragic event, but it flips quickly between sad and funny moments, so that you feel the urge to both laugh and cry.

I played Verna Chong, the deceased’s Japanese secretary and long-time family friend. This was my first play, and I wrote about my experience in my blog. The clips below (taped during our last rehearsal) are some of my wacky moments in the play; the files are pretty big, so start loading and grab a snack =) Or, just skim through the photos.

Verna’s eulogy
This part was the toughest for me. It’s nervewracking to be the focus of attention.

Verna consoling Estelle
I got better at knowing my lines and their timing as we kept running the show.

Wiping off the corpse’s makeup, and the fight breaks loose
Dropped a line here, too — oops. Learning curve. I am sooooo relieved that the Windex bottle never flew out of my hands on any show night.

musical theatre miscellany

Too Much For One Heart
Miss Saigon
WST Class Showcase, 2009
As guest alumna

My voice teacher, who runs the WST class, started a new tradition of including alumni in the showcase. I was the first person to participate in this capacity; I thought perhaps after my performance she might decide including alumni is not the best idea =p This beautiful song never made it onto the Miss Saigon soundtrack; it was cut during the workshop phase because it did not sufficiently move along the story. By luck and chance, I came across a video of Lea Salonga performing the song and found unofficial sheet music for it.

The week before the show, I worked on the song with Heidi during a lesson, and then I rehearsed it with Jeff, the show’s accompanist, just beforehand. I wish I had been more consistent; I was nervous after not having performed in so long. Plus, it was the day after that really intense Jekyll and Hyde callback.

Here is a better-quality audio recording from my lesson. The performance isn’t as strong, but I think this is what I really sound like (basically, a 12-year-old at times).

Another Suitcase In Another Hall
Evita
WST Class Showcase, 2008
With Julian the Man at the piano

I didn’t expect to be nervous, but I realized as the intro started that I kind of was. Vocally, it wasn’t as strong as it should have been. What else is new?

Part of Your Ward
The Little Mermaid’s “Part of Your World,” spoofed
Penn Med Spoof, 2007
With Chuck as Flounder and Stephan on the keyboard

My New Philosophy
You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown
Penn Med Coffeehouse, 2006
With my friends Tony and Lisa, whom I coerced into doing this skit with me in order to live out a childhood dream, and my friend Kathleen, who is amazing and could’ve been a world-class pianist but chose medical school instead

This was before I learned to control that darned transition to head voice. I can usually belt almost all of it, but here I was so nervous (we had never rehearsed there before, and there were audio issues...hence the AV guy in the background) that I cracked all over the place. When it was over, I was so mad that cried on the shoulders of various friends for about 45 minutes. Then I calmed down. And now I can laugh at it all!

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