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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Apparently, I AM the Very Model of a Modern Major-General

In the heady excitement of stripping wallpaper, scheduling allergist's appointments and generally running about like an epileptic chipmunk, I forgot to mention that I got cast as Major-General Stanley in "The Pirates of Penzance."

I now get to share the stage with a bevy of adopted daughters, dodder and mince around like an affected prat, and sing the immortal song, "I am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General," a piece of music which most Americans think is from "Animaniacs."

This will be my fourth principal patter role in a Gilbert & Sullivan operatta, and I'm proud to be ticking them off, one by one. Only ten left to go. It's a good thing I'm still young.

The audition was okay, as auditions go. I feel like my singing showed improvement while my comic timing was on the decline, but I guess the auditioners didn't feel that way. Or maybe they did, and there was just nobody else. I don't know, nor do I care that much either. I got the part, and it's always a nice thing to be wanted, except when it's by the police.

Rehearsals don't start until September, so it's difficult to get really excited about the show, and I have trouble getting excited about shows in general. Part of me thinks it's a waste of time and energy-- do audiences really give a shit about who's in a certain role in a given show? Does it really matter? There are many, many people who could do the part just as easily as me-- why does it have to be me? Sometimes I browbeat myself about doing community theatre. I could probably get paid work if I dusted up my resume, sent out headshots and put a little effort into it. But I don't.

G&S doesn't require serious acting chops (some would argue there's no acting involved at all, and that's true sometimes, but only if you can't act) and it satisfies my longing to pretend I'm British. Also, the Gilbert & Sullivan patter roles are relatively easy and comfortable for me-- it ain't Pinter and it ain't Arthur Miller or Eugene Ionesco. Not only do I appreciate and respect the talents and work of the two men intellectually, but I am over the moon for the music and the wit.

The thing I do have to work hard at, though, is the music. I can barely read music, so I fake a lot of things. I listen to recordings constantly to augment my meager sightreading abilities. Mrs. Apron tutors me privately, coaching me. I sing the songs constantly so that it is more muscle memory than anything else.

I'm pleased to have another opportunity to perform. I feel like I get better each time, and that's saying a lot because, the first time, I didn't know what the fuck I was doing. If you had told me, six years ago, that I would be singing solo operetta roles I would have laughed so hard I would have soiled myself, and you. But, here we are. I'm pleased to have the opportunity because I feel like I do have some talent-- certainly not enough for film or Broadway or even Philly professional theatre, but, there's something-- and, as long as there's something, then it should be shared.

I suppose that's why I have this blog instead of a diary. It serves the same basic function, a record of thoughts and musings and feelings-- and that's what it's for. I suppose, if it were just for me, I wouldn't try as hard-- and there certainly wouldn't be funny, hyperlinked pictures-- but I recognize that this is a place for you, too. You're here for some reason, and maybe I don't know what that is, and maybe I don't need to know, but I'm glad that you're all there, sitting in the audience, clapping away as the lights go down.

It's a little army, I know. But I'm proud to be your Major-General.


  1. Congratulations on the role! I am sure you will be fantastic.
    I love your blog because you blog so much and I love to read and I am nosey.. so this is a perfect combination! I hope that made sense.
    I am looking forward to all the behind the scenes observations and laughable gaffs.
    My oldest son (who is at Uni training to be an actor) said after he saw milk.. I give up on films..its not like theatre, in theatre everyone claps at the end. Seeing a film now is just weird. Everyone just stands up and walks away!

  2. You will do great! Break a leg!

  3. I love community theater! I go to local productions all the time and love to see people I know in the roles. So, yes, it does matter who is in a given role, and I have an inkling that you are going to be great!


  4. What do you mean, "think" is from the Animaniacs? The Warner Brothers (and Sister) were the most innovative composers and lyricists of our time! Did Gilbert and Sullivan ever burp the entirety of Beethoven's 5th Symphony?

    I think not.

    Also, their State Capitals song got me through more than one test question.

  5. Glorious news. Hurrah for the Major General!


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