Thursday, September 17, 2009

Pass the Rolaids

I've always had terrible heartburn. It hardly ever FEELS like heartburn, but I would have bizarre complaints that seemed unrelated to anything--stitches in my sternum, months-long dry cough, laryngitis--look it up and sure enough, rare manifestations of heartburn. Until now I've been willing to suffer through it, drinking a lot of water and popping chalk chews. But when I started feeling a squeezing in my throat and the entire top half of my singing range dropped off, I got concerned.

Looks like I have GERD--gastroesophogael reflux disease.

My first thought was that I'd busted my vocal folds singing too high in Sweeney. But a little more research into vocal injuries and I discovered that the feeling--along with the other symptoms I've had off and on since age 3--are signs of GERD.

So I went to the doctor on Monday, because although I can suffer through chest pain and reflux, I'm not willing to ruin my voice. My doctor is kinda a McDreamy, so it wasn't too wretched. I listed off my symptoms and after a cursory exam, said I was probably right and gave me three weeks' worth of drugs. Evidently, if I feel better after taking them the diagnosis is confirmed. Because of the chest pain though, the nurse gave me an EKG. Thank God I wore cute underwear that day (the set Jessie got me for my shower!)

Because I've had reflux so long and my diet is healthy, it's likely that there's a deflect in the little flap at the bottom of your esophogus that's supposed to keep all that crap down in your stomach. In some people, it just doesn't close all the way. Barring invasive surgery, the only thing I can do is take a pill every morning for the rest of my life.

I told him I was concerned about damage. After all, if I really have had this problem since childhood, that's like gallons of acid juice washing over my vocal cords. So he refered me to an ENT. I called up and it turns out the doc he recommended doesn't really look at throats (uhhhh...). So I am seeing somebody who's specialty is "the professional voice." I don't know what to expect; I really want my voice to be ok but I don't exactly relish the thought of having to swallow a camera--I have a sensitive gag reflex. My appointment is Monday morning, so I guess we'll see how it goes. Meanwhile, I'm on the fourth day of the meds and the pain when I sing is gone, but now it feels like I have a thick lump in my throat and pudding surging around behind my sternum.

I just realized most of this post contains information that wouldn't even interest my mother. But the bottom line is, there is a medical explanation for why my voice has been hurting!

Knock Knock

Tuesday I was invited to audition for Horizon Theatre's Family Series production of Madeleine's Christmas. Even though I am ridiculously overwhemlmed schedule-wise right now, I don't think I can pass up the opporunity for a paying gig. I have no idea how they got my name, or what in the world part I could be called for (they're calling actual little girls as well) but I'm glad it's starting to get out there! When I spoke to the coordinator she said to prepare two songs and a short monologue..kind of intense for a one-hour play about magic carpets, but I'm game. For my belt I'm going to sing "Here I Am" from Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, because it has French phrases in it, and for legit soprano "Lovely" from Forum because it's gentle without being a total downer ballad. The monologue is evidently optional, and I don't have anything in my rep that's good for the show, plus I haven't done a monolgue audition since college, so it's a big temptation to opt right on out. But would that be a bad step? Even if I'm totally inappropriate for the show, at least I will have been seen and possible considered for the future, right?

After this audition I will probably be inspired to write a post about the monologue at auditions. A taste: Can we PLEASE all recognize that this, the SAT of live theatre, is a terrible measure of talent? It's more a measure of how good you are at figuring out your type--a useful skill, yes, but relevant to being cast in one specific role? No. You know what is relevant? READING FOR THE ROLE. Anyway, more later.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

12 tips for staying classy at the theater

Sage advice on not being 'that guy'
Published 09.02.09 in Creative Loafing
By Curt Holman

1) DON’T BE LATE - Try to follow the old adage “15 minutes early is on time.” Most theaters hold the curtain for five or 10 minutes, but the opera is mercilessly punctual — some of them have spears and those pointy helmets.
2) POWER DOWN - You should know by now to turn off your cell phone or Blackberry, and that’s all the way off. Don’t tweet, don’t text, don’t vibrate, don’t glow. Just don’t emit anything: noises, lights, smells, what have you.
3) CUT THE CRINKLE - Through some quirk in the law of sonics, the loudest substance in the known universe is a candy or lozenge wrapper in a darkened theater. Unwrap them beforehand and let them roll around loose in your pocket or purse.
4) LEAVE THE CRYING FOR THE ACTORS - If you have a baby or small children, use your head, for God’s sake. Maybe the edgy, experimental play replete with violence and nudity in the tiny black-box performing space next to the cyber cafĂ© isn’t the best place for an infant.
5) MANAGE YOUR MALFUNCTIONS - Avoid cracking your knuckles, propping your feet on the balcony, digging your keys in your ear, or doing that weird thing with your neck. They probably have medications now to suppress those tics: Consult your health care provider.
6) NO FLASHING - Don’t take photographs, even with a cell phone. Nobody wants to see a momentarily blinded Hamlet lose his place and topple into the orchestra pit.
7) KEEP YOUR GLASS HALF-FULL - Wear a monocle. They’re totally coming back. I swear. Wear one in each eye, even, especially if you’re a woman.
8) BE PRACTICAL - Always remove your white gloves before giving a surreptitious handjob.
9) DRESS TO IMPRESS - Actually, unless it’s some kind of benefit show, you don’t have to dress all fancy. Think casual Friday at the office. The management would appreciate basic cleanliness, though, so make sure your clothes are free of holes, your scalp is free of lice, and that you’re not sloughing anything off your skin.
10) SHUSH YOUR INNER CELLO - Don’t hum along with the symphony, even if they’re playing that great Beethoven piece in Die Hard.
11) STAND AND BE RECOGNIZED - You have no obligation to get on your feet and clap if everyone else is giving a standing ovation. Still, if you make a big deal about being the only one just sitting there, you’ll look like a total douche. I’m just saying.
12) APPLAUD WITH SINCERITY - At the end, feel free to shout “Bravo!” or “Brava!,” stomp your feet, whoop, whistle, bark, raise the roof and wave a giant foam hand that says “We’re #1.” You may come across as a rube, but people will enjoy your enthusiasm.