Well, I have to say that while it was a harrowing for me, our performances of Nunsense, A-men!
in Saugatuck, Mich., last Saturday went really well. For the first time ever, we did an improv "Jesus Look-alike" contest that was just hilarious (one of our nuns went wild, waving these fake palm trees she found at the winner). Everyone was pleased and we're definitely invited back next year.
What happened was that I was fatigued from nun practice and last-mintue rushing around, and pushed my voice in rehearsal when we got there. It was a cavernous barn scenario and I did not use my voice correctly. By the end of our afternoon show the next day, I could barely talk.
Then when the second show came around, it was hard for me to say anything without my throat clenching up. I was freaked and horrified at myself. Well, the audience was filing in and we rushed about, making a few cuts and doling out a couple of my lines to other nuns. "In character," I carried around the microphone for my audience-participation segment and leaned into the standing microphones for other sections. But was I going to make it through my solo--the second-to-the-last number that's pivotal for the plot's development?
As the show progressed, I fell out of doing many of my choral parts. That helped. But I was also distracted and blew a couple of little lines. I wasn't as "on" as I typically am and the raspy, in-and-out quality of my voice showed. I was really feeling like I was blowing it for everyone.
When it came time for my solo number, my character literally asks the audience if they want to hear me sing. You could hear crickets. But I took it as a breath of anticipation, knowing that I was having vocal problems.
So I walked to upstage center and microphone in hand, took a relaxed breath in. The piano played and quietly, the words came out. I felt a flow building, like a warm, gentle tide. I'd hold notes longer and began to reconnect with what I was saying and to the audience's energy. I kept in that zone and when it came time for the high parts, I hit every one.
The last thing I sing is "Amen" and believe me, I've never felt relief like I had singing that last word. Everyone applauded. I felt most people were "in" on what was going on and happy I was able to carry through with that important piece of the play.
Driving back to Chicago, I reflected a bit and realized how important it was to really take care of myself. Even if I'm just performing in a show here and there, my body needs to rest and I have to be vigilant about singing and just plain ol' talking correctly.
It was a tough way to learn a lesson, but as God is my witness Katie-Scarlet, I will never lose my voice again!