I’m Always True to You Darling in My Fashion

As actors, our income relies on our versatility of course — our ability to play any part offered. We all know well the line on audition sheets, “Will you accept any role?” Our response is usually Just about, especially while we are just starting out. While you may be booked in a play for a two-month stint, a TV pilot or even a dreaded temp day job may make up next month’s rent. My acting this year has taken me from small studio commercials to dancing with Kevin Spacey at the Inaugural Ball (Netflix series House of Cards), from an intimate historic stage for contemporary drama to an art gallery for devised work to rehearsal rooms and libraries for staged readings of every kind. But I couldn’t help feeling my list of performances was missing something — a musical, the reason I got into this business in the first place. I have shirked my true passion, music and singing and musicals, for an admittedly exciting exploration into the diversity of theater genres.

If not immediately apparent from my blog titles, I am a musical theatre devotee. It was a well-worn copy of the 1968 Oliver! on VHS that first solidified my love of the form — the great trifecta of stage art. Singing was accessible. Black and white movie musicals, Disney sing-alongs, and community choirs afforded me opportunities to sing along, memorize melodies and harmonies quickly by ear, and grow to love the emotion and character evolution of music — when words are not enough. When friends were listening to the Backstreet Boys and Spice Girls, I idolized the likes of Audra McDonald, Angela Lansbury, and Brian Stokes Mitchell. I was the kid in the choir singing a gospel song with the biggest smile on my face, all but dancing on the risers, or pulling at heartstrings with the dramatic anguish of my first recital piece, Lascia Mi Morire or Let Me Die.

And yet, I have recently passed the one-year mark since my last musical. While Glenn Pearson’s fantastic set list at Show Tunes and Cocktails has provided my monthly fix of belting for the time being, I have found myself greatly missing my first love — my soulmate of show biz. There is nothing quite like following Dot and George through love, lust, and loathing in the songs of Sunday in the Park with George. There is something amazingly unique about hearing the rafters ring with rousing renditions of “You Can’t Stop the Beat” from Hairspray. Perhaps classical actors feel this void when they make an unintended shift from Shakespeare to Shaw or, heaven-forbid, sitcoms!

So what is to be done?

I have been told time and time again that acting requires patience, a lot of pavement pounding, and pliability. So while I continue to brush up my Shakespeare, I will also go into my dance as I wait for the Red Line metro on single-tracking weekends. At the end of long days of endless takes for commercials, I will proudly be called-out for exercising to the soundtrack from In the Heights. And while filing and entering database queries at that day job, I will hear Nancy Walker pattering “I Can Cook Too”, reminding me that personal aesthetics will always have a place in my heart even as my resume reflects new discoveries. And yes, I will be getting my fix, singing my heart out at Show Tunes & Cocktails at the Jefferson in November.