RE(nt)-Cap (Rehearsal Begins)

Posted: November 6, 2009 in Road to RENT

October 18, 2009

I was late.

I grabbed my satchel bag and ran across two lanes of highway, just meters away from an intersection. I was fortunate that all visible traces of automobiles were darkened and stationary. The traffic lights were glowing red. I scampered to the door and swung it opened hoping that my mishap would not interrupt. My hopefulness was in vain.

An infinite number of eyes fell upon me. I fixed my eyes to a corner to avoid direct contact. The director was the first to speak:

“Welcome, Jeremy.”

I imagined that I heard a taste of agitation in his voice, which shook my already feeble foundation. I tried to take a seat in the back, only to be redirected to an empty chair on the side. I sat down, head reaching for the floor and waited to begin.

As I calmed my panting to a whisper I heard a voice from across the room. She leaned to the person next to her and stated:

“…kinda sexy.”

The beginning of her phrase escaped my comprehension and I looked up, against my better judgment, to take a glimpse at who she could be talking about. Before I could tear my eyes away from her she shot at me with a bold sauciness that startled my prolonged gaze:

“Yes, I am talking about you!”

The person she spoke to looked up, gave a quick glance and never said a word with a blank expression looking me over.

I had been shot. A twinge of fear tapped my spine and my eyes tried to cower away from their faces. I attempted to throw a quick smile, but my face fell flat. I coached myself on how to look away and thought:

Sexy?… Me?… Huh?…Did she own a pair of rose colored glasses?

That was not a description of myself that I was accustomed to hearing. As my mother would say to me, when I described odd situations such as that:

“It must be your nose!”

I put the thought behind me and waited for the meet and greet/sing through session to begin.

Before the director could break the chattering in the room another girl interrupted my concentration:

“Hey, I remember you from auditions. When you did that back flip I said he has to be in the show.”

I lowly thanked her with a strangled smile. I tried to speak back, but my words betrayed me. They retreated into me like a newly detected roach.

I sat and contemplated my next move. I remembered her from the auditions as well and from the little bit of RENT that remained in my thoughts, I fashioned her to Rosario Dawson. I hoped, when I saw her that first time, that she would get the part and I knew I should tell her at that moment.

For approximately five minutes I wrestled in my head. I reasoned as to how I would reintroduce myself into a dialogue with her. I turned to the left, looked at her, and turned back forward. I bowed out. I jolted myself, turned back in her direction and went for it.

“Hey…”

She looked over at me.

“…when I first saw you I wanted you to be Mimi, I am so glad you got the part.”

She put out her fist and I pounded it. She turned back to her state of contentment and I rolled my eyes at how cheesy I came off as my head tried to shake the awkwardness away. I felt about as foolish as a main street crack head would look in a beauty pageant. I decided, from that moment forward, that I would speak only when necessary.

The introductions began.

As fortune would have it the director decided to start from 9 o’clock, his position and proceed clockwise. Of course, I was a nearby 1 o’clock with only four people in between me. The first few were exuberant in their greetings giving little tidbits about themselves. Then all eyes fell on me. My head throbbed.

I stared down at the folder that was given to me, my script and music score, I dared not raise my eyes. I threw my voice and began to speak.

“I’m Jeremy…”

My right hand quickly moved away from my body, into the air, and back immediately.

“…and, um, I’m here.”

I whispered under my breath, only loud enough to come out as a puff:

“The stripper.”

A few giggled and I kept true to my visibly invisible position. The gentlemen next to me looked on at me as if I had more to say. I remained stiff. He began. I was glad, for once, that the attention was deflected.

His named escaped me but what he did next caught my attention.

“…I am learning how to sing two notes at the same time; you have to listen for the undertone.”

His voice buzzed and two sounds poked through. Trying not to give away my astonishment, I wrestled with my thoughts.

This dude has two voices and I am struggling with the one. WHAT IS THE DEAL?

The introductions concluded and I was no more sure of myself than when I had arrived in haste. Everyone seemed to be exploding with experience and I looked like an unnoticed spark. I quietly asked God when it would all get better and I rejoiced in the directors prompting for us to stand and sing Seasons of Love.

I knew that one.

We stood and began as usual. I knew my inflections, I knew my dynamics and I even had a few embellishments that I could work in. I would support the soloist like a perfectly fitted jock-strap.

The OOO’s were upon us and I readied myself to show what I had practiced. We finished off the last phrase, Looovvvvveee, and I steadied myself, although wondering who it would be, for the female soloist to began. I started:

“Oh, O…”

I was immediately stopped in mid-embellishment. I looked across the room at a female with a voice I had recognized. Only, this woman was lighter and her hair was much shorter. But, it had to be her, though I didn’t understand why Jennifer Hudson had taken a detour to Delaware.

This new woman had a voice that only the hands of God could create. I lost all ability to sing and my feet were steadily losing their grip to the floor. I tried to back her up, but my attempts seemed feeble in comparison to the sound that wrapped me in warmth. And then the male jumped in.

Next to me, the two-voiced talent began to soothe every listening ear. The tone that came from his mouth was velvety smooth, better yet, like a perfectly tuned xylophone. He topped my blanket off with a soft pillow.

As I stood there I couldn’t help but resist the urge to pull out two pencils, pry open his mouth and tap on his teeth to see what type of noise they would make.

I was in awe. It was unreal.

At the conclusion we all sat, grabbed our books and commenced a sing through. I surely knew we would not go through the whole play, but, I was wrong. We started from the first beat and settled into our characters.

The parts I knew I sang loud and proud and the parts I didn’t I faded back into oblivion between the two skilled singers on either side of me. When it got to lead duets I swayed peacefully and when it came time for me to speak, a part that was all my own, I went in with confidence.

I remembered the part well, for I had listened to the song religiously. I spoke my piece, gathered my pride and beat it against my back in approval. As I sat back, happy I had gotten something right, a collection of voices prompted me as the piano played on:

“Um, it’s still your part.”

I had neglected the lyrics I was to sing to end the song. I threw my head into the sheet and tried to bring the words to life.

“It’s gonna be, gonna be, uhhhhhhhhhhhh.”

I stopped.

“Um, I’m not gonna lie, I don’t know it.”

Two-voiced leaned over and stated:

“Yeah, that last note is all the way in the basement.”

I rejoiced in his empathy.

Initially, ready to open the door and run into the basement with it, I secured the door, turned around and marveled in my mishap. It was time to stop fearing the unknown. I plunged forth and decided to fake it, bake it or flake it. There was no reason to be afraid. We all make mistakes, right?

October 19, 2009

Seasons of Love found its way on the menu once again, as if we hadn’t devoured the song enough. However, now, the music director wanted to dissect it even more and assign different portions to the various guest that surrounded his musical table.

I walked in and took a seat to the far end of the room. The director looked at me, I smiled, he talked:

“So, I know you have a wide range…”

I scrunched my lips together and twisted them to the side.

“So what do you normally sing, baritone. Uh?”

I quickly interjected.

“I’m definitely not a bass.”

He smirked and then played three notes for me to try. He matched it with a phrase and waited for my execution. Reaching into my falsetto I moved through the notes all while wondering what it was for. He concluded:

“Oh good…”

The main director walked by.

“We have our guy.”

“Perfect!”

I felt good about myself. I was the “it” guy, for what, I didn’t care; it just felt good to be picked. The rest of practice, as we were assigned our parts, I tapped two-voice every now and then to make sure I was on key. He pointed me in the right direction with one of the two of his voices, and I still had that urge to tap his tooth to see if a note would come out.

I made it through that rehearsal content and a bit lighter than I had ever felt. I left trying to find my second voice only to bellow out slow mating ritual grunts.

My second voice must’ve been broke.

October 21, 2009

I was tired of playing the fool.

I knew that my scene for the next rehearsal was coming up. It was my only chance at a miniscule solo and I refused to mess it up. I listened to the track over and over until every word of it was engrained into my cracking skull. I could flawlessly recite the entire scene on my own, playing every part if need be. It was my time to shine.

I bounced into practice that day, trampolines were implanted in my shoes. I sat down and quietly waited for the rehearsal to begin. My heart shone bright and I kept my excitement in, only allowing a few small smirks to escape every few minutes.

We began.

Seasons of Love came first. Although I had fallen in love with the song, I wondered how many seasons it had left. Once a melody that ignited spring in my soul, I could feel it reaching the latter parts of autumn.

We moved on to our next selection.

The music director split us into four groups and we rounded the song beautifully. He mixed us, intertwined between different sections and the melody still rang true. I knew the song and I poured my emotions into its meaning. I even conjured up enough passion to allow a single tear to form in my eye. It never fell.

We took a quick break and worms wiggled in my pants as I waited for my moment.

I sat down directly in front of the piano. I was sandwiched by two tenors who took the low part and the bass, alto and soprano to fill in the mix. We rehearsed through it once and I was feeling extremely elevated in my prowess, flying above the clouds.

The music director took us back to the beginning and assigned each of us parts.

“Jeremy and the soprano you take the top.”

No problem.

He played the notes and I sang them out loud as if I owned them. He looked at me from the side of his face and corrected my mistake:

“Take it down an octave.”

Problem.

I didn’t know how.

My faced lost its pigmentation.

He seemed to read the confusion on my face and played it for me. I held on to the new melody and plugged my ears. I had to delete my old data and replace it with the new. All parts were given for the various splits and we began.

We started flawlessly. The sound was pleasant and inviting. We reached the defining measure and the parts split three ways. I cracked.

I desperately searched for my part, with no one else to hide behind. I looked at the director and gave a cheesy smile. I chalked it up to a mistake and moved through to the next break.

I started off great again, confident and powerful in my note. As we split I cracked once again. Instead of stopping I fell into the notes of the people to either side and sauntered on. And when we finished I finished with an unharmonious crackle. The shattered glass emptied into my soul.

The director looked at me and played my part again. I fully took a hold of it. He played us all together and I lost it as soon as the first notes were bellowed. I could see the look on his face as I made pathetic attempts to find my note, but all I could hear was the high soprano being played and I constantly reached for that level. The director seemed to be losing patience with me. The room grew hot, my skin tight, causing my hands to tremble.

The perspiration began to bead up on the back of my neck. I leaned forward trying to catch some air. I sunk deeper into myself hoping that my thoughts could render me invisible. I blinked, hard. I was still there.

My eyes pleaded for the music director to move on – no lather, rinse, repeat. I needed, no, yearned for him to release me. I knew he was simply requiring comprehension, not perfection, but I clawed for a way of escape. I needed to retreat before he could rip the part away from me and assign it to another. Finally, he moved to the next song.

With a heavy sigh, I silently thanked him.

The next song, once again, called for me to take a high lead and to make matters worse the instructions were given:

“Just follow Jeremy to know when to move to the next note.”

Everything in me fell before him. I was already tending to my wounds. I couldn’t subject myself to any further abuse. Somehow, squawking and uncertain of myself, I made it through, barely. I grabbed my things to slunk my way out until a knife was thrown in my neck:

“Let’s rehearse the first song one more time.”

I looked at him defeated and too weak to protest. I only had a few emotions left and they were quickly seeping out of me like a broken faucet. I sat down and waited for the humiliation to finally drain me, completely.

I fumbled and fumbled and fumbled. I tried to grasp what he was playing but I couldn’t. I was exhausted, counted out. I was too distressed with myself to even reach for the notes.

“I will help you.”

A voice straight out of heaven was sent to rescue me, only it came from the person to my right.

A burst of energy shocked me back to life. The man to my right began to sing my part making sure I could comprehend every note. He showed me tricks and pointed to exactly where my problems were. I showered him with appreciation.

By this time I was offered another life preserver when the assistant director walked in. She looked up at us as we, mostly them, sang through the piece. She demanded to know who was on the middle as my part was receiving a double portion.

My help stated that it was him. I intercepted at what I thought was a hint of apprehension to his singing of my part, almost as if I was unworthy of such a position. I tried to smooth over the tension I felt with a statement:

“He is helping me because I am being slow today.”

My head circled and my eyes fell to the ground. I hoped it would overshadow my lack of knowledge. She looked at me, with sarcastic confusion decorating her face and declared:

“Um, you are learning the song, which is what practice is for.”

Her hands were thrown out to the sides of her body, palms to the ceiling. Her head shook and her shoulder length black hair swooshed lightly around her face.

Almost instantly my sweat dried up.

Her gesture reignited my presence in the room. She didn’t know it, but those simple, kind words eased all anxiety I felt. I returned her kind gesture with a bashful smile. I left, still a bit unsure, but capable.

The music director smiled at me as I left and, again, I knew I had imagined his agitation with me, but, nevertheless, I needed work.

I sped home.

I ran to the piano and threw my book open to my song. I stared at a sea of unfamiliar keys with zero knowledge of where to begin. I threw my mouth open. I belted the one note I could remember and took to my new task.

My fingers clumsily struck the ivory rectangles as I tried to find the note I was murdering.

I went to the far left – too low. I threw my fingers to the far right – yeah, I was ridiculously grasping at Mariah Carey notes. At that moment, I couldn’t help but realize that I sounded like a tone deaf dial tone. I could hear the dial tone operator speaking to me:

“If you’d like to know your note, call somebody with a clue. Otherwise, please shut up and try again. THANK YOU!”

My face writhed in pain as my chin tilted toward the ceiling. I was faltering – mee, mee, mee, mee, moo. I tore at some between notes and by the end of seven minutes I had my key. The tones finally matched.

I plucked it, pounded it and played it until I could find it in the dark. I reached for my music and found its name – F. I needed it labeled.

I ran to the kitchen, still holding on to my note with a wavering voice, and found a pencil. I ran back to the piano and scribbled an “F” on the key. I looked at the second note I was to sing and plucked at the keys again, same constipated expression, until I found a note that I felt it matched.

Pretty soon a small section of the piano had a granite alphabet on them. I then matched up the remaining keys of the piano as best as I could to their perspective names. At the end of thirty minutes I was staring at smeared gray letters. By the end of an hour and a half I had practiced, single finger plucking, until I knew the notes better than my own name.

I tore myself away from the piano and readied myself for a night at my job. My voice was scratchy and my throat felt as if it was swelled with boils.

I made my way out the door and silently laughed at my successful attempts, to my standards, at learning the piano.

I was a young Mozart in my own fantasy of the meaning.

_________________

It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get back up.
-Vince Lombardi

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Comments
  1. Nicia says:

    I am officially addicted!

  2. Joe Swift says:

    I never thought I would read a blog and like it. But this is awesome and I am not just sayin it because you are my brother!

    Love you Tweet

  3. *Heavenly Voice* says:

    J-Boog,

    You put words together like a fine handcrafted L.V. Bag. I hang on to every morsel until the last bite, and then I get mad that I’ve eaten it all! I can’t tell you enough how much I enjoy you as a writer and a person. You are quickly becoming a welcomed addiction. XOXO
    ~ Tia

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