Well Shit! Broadway DOES Rock. (Or “How My Weekend Totally Didn’t Suck After All.”)

No really. This weekend I was at an orchestra concert dressed like a hippie, dancing my ass off and handing out flowers to complete strangers.

Remember how last weekend, a certain brat girl was all “wah wah wah I got a new position and have a concert and rehearsals and apartment hunting and am soooo stressed?”

Yeah, I told her to suck it up and get a grip.

Actually, in reality I was a stress-ball until Saturday morning, when I reluctantly got out of bed and headed into Harrisburg for our rehearsal with the symphony. My disillusionment lasted approximated 5 minutes after entering the Forum, a gorgeous old building right across the street from the State Capitol building.

There’s something about stepping foot in a concert hall on the day of a show. It’s as if the building itself knows that something amazing is about to happen, and the energy of the place totally changes. No. The tie-dye did not go to my brain. We were shown back to the green room where we’d be warming up, hanging out during the show, and changing for the big encore. Then, we were pointed to the stage.

It’s been about 2 years since I’ve sung onstage with an orchestra, and I’d forgotten what a thrill it is. Take sitting in the audience and multiply it by 10. You’re up there, surrounded by the musicians, watching the maestro’s face as he cues the different parts and coaxes incredible sounds from the group. Watching the harpist alone kept me fascinated.

THEN. The soloists joined us. And they were from, oh… “Phantom of the Opera,” “Jekyll and Hyde,” “The Civil War,” “Ragtime,” and Trans-Siberian Orchestra. To name just a few.

We did our dress rehearsal, and by the end of “You Can’t Stop the Beat,” from “Hairspray”, I knew it was going to be an incredible night. If you can sit still during that song, there might be something missing in your soul. The soloists were rocking their butts off, the chorus was shimmying and the maestro was playing air guitar on the podium.

*cue adrenaline rush that wouldn’t stop until Sunday night around 9pm*

Skip to 4 hours later, and the Singers made our way onstage to a nearly packed house. We were attired in our snazzy concert best, and for all appearances took ourselves very seriously.

The orchestra began the overture, selections from “Jesus Christ Superstar,” and I immediately got chills. I sat there silently thanking my Mom for exposing me to musicals at a young age, remembering being 8 years old and moving to Pennsylvania with a tape of “Phantom of the Opera” in the cassette player. As the melody shifted from “Everything’s alright” to a lush string arrangement of “I Don’t Know How to Love Him,” I was officially enthralled.

I had to snap myself out of it in time to sing “Everybody Rejoice,” from “The Wiz,” where the soloists energetically bounded to the front of the stage and got the crowd pumped up. By the end of the number, the audience was clearly into it and ready for a great show. The soloists introduced themselves, being extremely humble and funny about the fact that they were basically The SHIT.

I really shouldn’t have even bothered shaving my legs to wear pantyhose, because the goosebumps did not let up from that point on. Seriously. First, Rob Evan sang “This is the Moment” from Jekyll and Hyde, practically bringing the audience to its feet in only the 3rd number. He was capable of such incredible power and range, yet his falsetto was pure and gorgeous. Gah.

Christiane Noll followed him with a rendition of “Defying Gravity” that had me sitting there with tears streaming down my cheeks, trying not to make any unattractive sobby noises. That song is incredibly powerful at all times, and to hear her effortlessly belt it out completely overwhelmed me. I was reminded of seeing the show on Broadway, with Idina Menzel as Elphaba where I barely stopped crying for the whole first half. Yes. Theater/music people are WEIRD.

When performing with the big band during the summer, one of “my” songs is “Home” from “The Wiz,” because it requires a higher belt section at the end. However, I’m retiring it after hearing Capathia Jenkins sing the hell out of it twice this weekend. She had the perfect mixture of soul and innocence to knock it out of the park. Let’s not even mention her turn on “And I am Tellin’ You” from “Dreamgirls”, yet another song I can’t listen to without crying. To LPVB: I’m sorry. But this singer isn’t going to attempt her white girl rendition of ‘Home’ any more. It is a travesty.

Gary Mauer closed the program with two numbers from “Phantom of the Opera” (accompanied by Christiane. Who I may have a music girlycrush on. Don’t worry Jennifer Nettles, there’s room for both of you.) and brought the crowd to its feet.

BUT WAIT! (mwah ha ha)

*cue Maestro thanking crowd, talking about stuff and… what? An encore? That’s not on the program! The soloists coming back in tie-dye? What is HAPPENING?!*

*The orchestra begins to play “The Age of Aquarius/Let The Sun Shine In” from “Hair”*

*The Audience cracks up. Entertained by the singers onstage acting like hippies and stoners, they don’t notice the Harrisburg Singers, who have changed into ridiculous 60s attire sneaking into the auditorium entrances.*

*As the tempo changes to “Let the Sun Shine In,” the house lights go up and the crowd is surrounded by people dancing crazily and handing out flowers. Half of their faces register delight, half think they are being Punk’d and look around for Ashton Kutcher. By the end, all are clapping, laughing and some are singing along.*

I don’t know how to adequately explain the feeling of that moment. It’s like being five years old and having a secret that you soooo want to tell someone, and feeling like you’re going to burst from the excitement of it. Standing silently on the steps of the auditorium, dressed in tie dye, wearing a crown of flowers and ready to go dance my butt off for complete strangers was like waiting to come down on Christmas morning.

It’s hard to explain what drives performers. Despite the fact that I share my personal life with the Internet on a weekly basis, I’m basically a shy person. If I see you in the office, I may not be able to make myself speak up in time to say hello. If you get a smile and a nod, don’t be offended. But if there’s an opportunity to briefly become someone else, and entertain, I’m all for it. I had no trouble running up to complete strangers, looking them in the eye, handing them a flower and then dancing off. Ps- I suck at dancing. SUCK.

Sometimes I look at my life and can’t believe how lucky I’ve been to this point. This weekend was one of those times. To be on a stage with those amazing talents, and the Harrisburg symphony was such a “pinch me” moment. Then I look further and can’t believe that at only 26 I’ve had the chance to sing Beethoven and Mozart with the Lancaster symphony, perform with the Harrisburg symphony this weekend and even made it to Carnegie Hall.

I continue to be surprised at the amazing opportunities that I’ve been given, and worked for, and that I think is the most important thing of all. I never want to get to the point where “this is no big deal.” It is. Though I may not be ‘destined for greatness,’ I’m getting to have some incredible experiences through persistence and hard work.

I love that I’m always learning.

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2 thoughts on “Well Shit! Broadway DOES Rock. (Or “How My Weekend Totally Didn’t Suck After All.”)

  1. I was up there on the stage with you as you took us through that amazing show (wish I COULD have been there to see/hear/experience it)…I can’t sing (wish I could) but have always loved the brief moments in my life when I performed in some way…plays, dance recitals etc.

    Thanks so much for bringing us with you.

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