Sunday, October 07, 2007

1 in 73,000

(Photo by Susan Wilson)

On her flight to New York, my mother found an ad in a magazine giving that statistic as the odds for a child to perform at Carnegie Hall.

Who'd a thunk it?

My performance last night at Carnegie Hall in Karyn Levitt's "The Age of Romance: From Vienna to Broadway" was one of those magical nights in the theatre that every performer hopes for every time he takes the stage.

There are several people I want to thank for this opportunity. Obviously my thanks to Karyn, and to Terrence Montgomery, our director. He's got such a sharp eye and that amazing skill/talent/intuition to zone right to the heart of a moment. He teaches at a high school here in the city. I hope his school and students know how lucky they are to have him. I also want to thank Tom LaMark, our Pianist, for his attentive and sensitive accompaniment. And great thanks to Greg Schanuel, for making me feel like a real dancer for the first time in quite a while.

Karyn's performance was simply delightful last night. She is a mature singer with a lovely voice and brought out the beauty of many well-known songs that over the years have sometimes fallen victim to camp and derision. The brilliant lyrics of Hammerstein, Young and Harbach have such a timeless quality, matched only by the gorgeous music with which they are paired.

Terry's interpretation of the music for the evening was to encapsulate the life and loves of a woman searching. My role was that of an Everyman, silently presenting several different characters as each appeared in this woman's love life in the various songs.

I began as a waiter serving champagne to her as hostess of a party, then a guest at the party, waltzing her across the stage (Grand Waltz). Her courage and interest piqued, I next appeared as a stagehand (complete with broom, apron and cigar stub), trying to sweep the stage, but instead becoming the object of her unwanted affections (One Kiss/I'm Falling in Love with Someone).

Next I came as a presumptuous dresser who has appropriated her sequined and coined scarves in a frenzied harem dance celebrating my own discovery of love (Rahadlakum/Baubles, Bangles, and Beads/He's in Love).

In Stouthearted Men, I was her dough-boy, headed off to war, then her Latin Lothario seducing her in a tango (Softly, As in a Morning Sunrise).

The stagehand returned as an understudy for the sheik fighting a desert windstorm to get to her, woefully mimicked by a small table fan (Desert Song).

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes brought me a solo dance, kindly, graciously and beautifully choreographed by a very talented Greg Schanuel, evoking the man she loves who is far away.

Then I got to sing.

On the stage.


Hundreds of years ago (shortly after I finished college) I took a voice pedagogy at a local college where I lived in South Carolina from a voice major at the school. One of the songs we worked on during that semester was Jerome Kern's All the Things You Are. I have loved that song ever since and had only ever gotten to sing it for others around a piano bar in the Village.

When Karyn offered to make it a duet in the penultimate number, I couldn't have been more thrilled. Top it off with a magical "Fred and Ginger" dance break (courtesy of sweet Greg) and it was quite the climax for the evening.

Karyn's husband (Paul Nickelsberg) took lots of pictures of the brief rehearsal just before and during the performance, which I'll share when I get them.

07/03/2008 UPDATE: The pics are in. Click here to view.

I was home and in bed before 1:00 am, but hardly slept a wink last night.

(I still can't believe I actually performed at Carnegie Hall.)

1 comment:

Eric at said...

Congrats on your debut!! What a thrill. Here's to many more performances there.