Musical Theatre Advice - GREAT

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redhotinnyc2
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Musical Theatre Advice - GREAT#0
Posted: 3/12/04 at 9:56am
a friend just sent me this in an email and I had to copy it here - I find it to be some of the best advice I've heard in regards to acting/singing in musical theater, and wanted to share it with you all:

I heard a definition in a class with Clay Fullum once that will always stay with me and permeate my point of view (this is perhaps off by a word or two) :

"Effective Musical Theatre singing is: ACTING on a VOCAL LINE".

To me this means that that VOCAL LINE which comes from the actor/singer/performer is organically arrived at, dictated by and because of the acting of the moment.

And that VOCAL LINE encompasses all vocal aspects - volume/dynamics, tempo, diction, tone, attack; the amount of sustain at any moment - even the presence or LACK OF pitch at any moment, which explains why Rex Harrison was so damned effective. No singing going on there but 'ACTING ON A VOCAL LINE'? You bet your sweet Shipoopi! Which segues me to a quote, remember Professor Harold Hill told us: "Singing is just SUSTAINED TALKINNNGG....."

Brilliant.
"I don't really get the ending,all i can go with is when after several months,Judith saw Pat sang,and later she kissed him on the toilet,after that the story back to where Pat went down from the stage after he'd sung,and he went to the italian lady.I just don't get it,what Judith exatcly meant when he kissed Pat that she had seen,and did Pat end up together with The Italian Lady?Please help me,thank u very much!" Quote from someone on IMDB in reference to a movie he/she didn't understand. Such grammar!
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JohnPopa
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re: Musical Theatre Advice - GREAT#1
Posted: 3/12/04 at 10:14am
Um .... duh?
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re: re: Musical Theatre Advice - GREAT#2
Posted: 3/12/04 at 10:20am
yes but do you know how many performers out there have no CLUE as to what I just posted? TOO MANY. there oughtta be a law against letting untrained people, or more acurately UNTALENTED people perform for an audience.
"I don't really get the ending,all i can go with is when after several months,Judith saw Pat sang,and later she kissed him on the toilet,after that the story back to where Pat went down from the stage after he'd sung,and he went to the italian lady.I just don't get it,what Judith exatcly meant when he kissed Pat that she had seen,and did Pat end up together with The Italian Lady?Please help me,thank u very much!" Quote from someone on IMDB in reference to a movie he/she didn't understand. Such grammar!
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re: re: re: Musical Theatre Advice - GREAT#3
Posted: 3/12/04 at 10:46am
Red, you're absolutely dead-on...and that article is absolutely dead-on. Interesting how something that seems so simple can be so FOREIGN to the great unwashed -- or great untalented -- or great untrained.

One of our legendary singers also summed it up when giving her daughter advice on singing: "Remember, Liza, you're never just 'holding a note'. The thought is still behind it."
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redhotinnyc2
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rlbgbc...I'm glad you agree...have you seen my (he humbly says) review of Sweeney Todd posted elsewhere here - OY!
"I don't really get the ending,all i can go with is when after several months,Judith saw Pat sang,and later she kissed him on the toilet,after that the story back to where Pat went down from the stage after he'd sung,and he went to the italian lady.I just don't get it,what Judith exatcly meant when he kissed Pat that she had seen,and did Pat end up together with The Italian Lady?Please help me,thank u very much!" Quote from someone on IMDB in reference to a movie he/she didn't understand. Such grammar!
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COLT!!!
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Yeah. Opera, to me, in many ways is the antithesis of Musical Theatre. While the genisus of both forms derives from, and in, music (i.e.- vocal) Opera is about creating "SOUNDS" (beautiful or otherwise) whereas Musical Theatre (at it's best) is about conveying authentic emotions, ideas, and "story telling" in a heightened form (singing) not unlike performing Shakespeare's verse. Len Cariou and Angela Lansbury were a brilliant Sweeney and Mrs. Lovett because they are brillant ACTORS frist...who also sing exceptionally well. Most Opera Singers are primarily and overwhelmingly concerned with creating a "SOUND" and are not really tapped-into connecting with an emotional reality and conveying any sense of an emotional truth. There are of course some exceptions; Teresa Stratas, for one, is a wonderful actress.
Updated On: 3/12/04 at 11:43 AM
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I'll be honest here and say that I don't have enough of an education in Opera (meaning I haven't seen that much of it)...but what you say makes sense to me. I think Cecelia Bartoli is quite the actress - you can tell that just from listening to her - but I've also seen interviews with her in which they show'd clips of her performances and she really gives it her all - which I greatly admire!
"I don't really get the ending,all i can go with is when after several months,Judith saw Pat sang,and later she kissed him on the toilet,after that the story back to where Pat went down from the stage after he'd sung,and he went to the italian lady.I just don't get it,what Judith exatcly meant when he kissed Pat that she had seen,and did Pat end up together with The Italian Lady?Please help me,thank u very much!" Quote from someone on IMDB in reference to a movie he/she didn't understand. Such grammar!
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I'm also in NO WAY an expert on opera.

However, I can't agree that one is about emotional truth and the other isn't.

It's just expressed completely differently.

The sound produced and the music that accompanies it is it's own kind of emotional truth, don't you think?

If emotional truth can only come from the thoughts expressed in clearly heard lyrics, what's the point of setting it to music at all?
"I'm so looking forward to a time when all the Reagan Democrats are dead."
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Robbiej you have a very good point - I think there is something wonderful brought to all music by all performers...I think everyone has the best of intentions when performing what they've chosen. But I'll still take an "actor who sings" over a "singer who acts" ANYDAY.
"I don't really get the ending,all i can go with is when after several months,Judith saw Pat sang,and later she kissed him on the toilet,after that the story back to where Pat went down from the stage after he'd sung,and he went to the italian lady.I just don't get it,what Judith exatcly meant when he kissed Pat that she had seen,and did Pat end up together with The Italian Lady?Please help me,thank u very much!" Quote from someone on IMDB in reference to a movie he/she didn't understand. Such grammar!
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robbiej
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Red,

Yes...in a musical, give me an actor who sings any day.

In opera, however...well...have you ever heard the Queen of the Night aria sung by someone who just couldn't get there?

TRAINWRECK!!!!
"I'm so looking forward to a time when all the Reagan Democrats are dead."
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M A R I A C A L L A S#10
Posted: 3/12/04 at 1:39pm
Ummm.. Hello!

MARIA CALLAS!

Some of you hear MUST have heard of her!

They did a Broadway show about her a while back so that may jog your memories! (eyes roll)

If anyone sang and acted on a vocal line, it is Callas....

Callas WAS a vocal line put in a human body..

I belive some people can “get” opera and others just do not…

…..Ask me how many times I have cried in a Broadway theater in the last 10 years and how many times my tears fell to the floor of the Metropolitan Opera House and you’ll be amazed at the ratio.

It’s not just about “voices” but what they are singing and how they are singing it….and when it comes from their soul as it does on occasion …well…I won’t go there!

Might I also add the enormity of having to sing the music in an opera is incomparable, on every level, to the having to sing, let’s say, “Doin’ what comes naturally”?

There is so much going on in that opera singer's head..so many scales to run...passages to negotiate..high notes to avoid..(LOL)

If they are not "connected" all the time, there are reasons..

And might I also add, an Opera singer at the Met, has to sing over a 30-piece orchestra and a 50-person chorus without amplification.

Let me say that again, without amplification!

City Opera uses it because their hall was created for dancers not singers.

The Met would sooner die than resort to that!

...and let’s not speak of how many high notes a soprano has to sing in let’s say Verdi’s Aida as compared to John’s Aida?

There is no better! There is no worse...Two art forms...that entertain and inform and guide us....
Updated On: 3/12/04 at 01:39 PM
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re: M A R I A C A L L A S#11
Posted: 3/12/04 at 2:41pm
You need to take some of those pills, my dear!

NOW!

"I'm so looking forward to a time when all the Reagan Democrats are dead."
MusicMan
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re: re: M A R I A C A L L A S#12
Posted: 3/12/04 at 2:44pm

In other words, musical choices are predicated on dramatic choices. Advice I give out on a daily basis.
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re: M A R I A C A L L A S#13
Posted: 3/12/04 at 2:45pm
"Chrissy.... over on the wall.... bring me the big knife."
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re: re: M A R I A C A L L A S#14
Posted: 3/12/04 at 2:47pm
'I WON'T DO IT, JOHNNY!'
"I'm so looking forward to a time when all the Reagan Democrats are dead."
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re: re: re: M A R I A C A L L A S#15
Posted: 3/12/04 at 2:49pm
It was Ronnie, actually. Johnny was the other brother.

Regardless....

"CHRISSY, BRING ME THE BIG KNIFE!"
Updated On: 3/12/04 at 02:49 PM
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re: re: re: re: M A R I A C A L L A S#16
Posted: 3/12/04 at 2:54pm
SHIT!!!!

I GOT THE WRONG CAMMARERI!!!

I'M A BRIDE WITHOUT A HEAD!
"I'm so looking forward to a time when all the Reagan Democrats are dead."
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re: re: re: re: M A R I A C A L L A S#17
Posted: 3/12/04 at 2:55pm
OH, MISTER CAMARARRI!
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re: re: re: re: re: M A R I A C A L L A S#18
Posted: 3/12/04 at 2:56pm
You... you got a love bite on your neck. He's coming back this morning, what's the matter with you? You're life's going down the toilet! Cover up that damn thing! Come on, put some make-up on it!
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Old man, you give those dogs another morsel of my food and I'll kick ya till ya dead.
"I'm so looking forward to a time when all the Reagan Democrats are dead."
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re: re: re: M A R I A C A L L A S#20
Posted: 3/12/04 at 3:02pm
You know, I think John Popa summed up what I wanted to say in his response to the original post.

I mean really - Anyone who has ever performed in a musical production at some level must have gotten told this at some point. Maybe not as eloquently or as wordy as that quote, but I think what people are confusing is the fact that some actors/singers are just BETTER at conveying, and channeling whatever emotion they are feeling into their performance/interpretation.

I do not believe that any good singer does not feel something, or have a thought process as to why they choose to sing a certain way. That's garbage and ignorance. For instance, when I heard a friend talking about Linda Eder as a performer - saying that she was a blank slate as a performer, I found that to ridiculous.

I can sing a song, and not neccesarily indicate that I am acting, and still feel something, and convey what I am feeling to an audience. Sometimes, less IS more.

Again, any singer that is able to move someone, or sing well must have some ability to emote, and have some kind of reasoning and thought process as to why they sing material in one way as opposed to another way - otherwise, their singing is just plain boring. And a LOT of the people that are notorious for being just "singers who act" as opposed to "actors who sing" have moved me, and I got what they were trying to express. But then again, maybe that's just me - an actor who has trained.



Cheers,
The Balladeer
"Someone tell the story...Someone sing the song...."
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re: re: re: re: M A R I A C A L L A S#21
Posted: 3/12/04 at 3:05pm
A WOLF WITHOUT A FOOT!
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re: re: re: re: re: M A R I A C A L L A S#22
Posted: 3/12/04 at 4:07pm
Mr Balladeer (as I type this I think of Mr. Bellevedeer!LOL)...I agree with you on most points - but you must remember that a lot of people new to the business of performing (and there seem to be a LOT of young 'uns on this site!) don't know didly about how to properly convey their emotions thru song without seeming all "put on"...for lack of a better term. Less is most definitely more. Some students in a musical theatre audition class called "Acting the song" used to call it "NOT acting the song!" which makes perfect sense to me. Don't act - just BE. Don't ever listen to yourself sing - just try your best to convey your emotional state thru the words. Now I must say that I agree with your friend about Linda Eder - she has a phenomenal instrument and can hit notes that send shivers up your spine - but there is never anything happening emotionally when she sings - at least not for me as the listener. I look at her and see that glazed-over look in her eyes and wonder where she is while her physical body is making these sounds...it befuddles me how she got where she is - but then again the public at large is mostly into the whole pop phenomenon that is embodied by American Idol (oy vey)...give me a good, true balladeer anyday - one who knows what the lyrics actually mean to him/her and conveys it thru his/her interpretation - and I will be enthralled.
"I don't really get the ending,all i can go with is when after several months,Judith saw Pat sang,and later she kissed him on the toilet,after that the story back to where Pat went down from the stage after he'd sung,and he went to the italian lady.I just don't get it,what Judith exatcly meant when he kissed Pat that she had seen,and did Pat end up together with The Italian Lady?Please help me,thank u very much!" Quote from someone on IMDB in reference to a movie he/she didn't understand. Such grammar!
Updated On: 3/12/04 at 04:07 PM
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On this week's Inside the Actor's Studio, Hugh Jackman talked about rehearsing for Oklahoma at the Royal National Theatre. He said Trevor Nunn had the cast act the complete book and score without singing. He said this forced them to think about why the character was signing each line. I'm not an actor, but I found this interesting. Is this a common practice in rehearsals for a musical?

Zack
Pass it on - Take a kid to a show.
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It's a common acting exercise that I did a lot (and hated) in college. It is useful, however.

"I'm so looking forward to a time when all the Reagan Democrats are dead."