Saturday will see a rather momentous occasion in my life, as I will take up rehearsals for a show as chorus, without a leading role. Now, that sounds like I could be bordering in being a little vain; I did, of course, start my performing career in the chorus - I simply mean to say that it feels like so very long ago, because of how much life has changed since. I think the last show which I was chorus in was Iolanthe, aged 16, in 2004, in which I also understudied (if you can believe that girls catholic schools have such a facility) Private Willis. I suppose really when you consider I am now only 23, it doesn’t seem all that long a time. In years perhaps it is not, but in shows, it seems many.
I have been contemplating how to enjoy being in a chorus. Again, this sounds very vain, but I mean it in a positive way – when I was in the chorus at school I had a lot of fun, but when I moved onto principal roles, I suffered a lot of stress because my voice was very young and undeveloped, causing cracking and general embarrassment. Actually, the cracking problem is one I have only solved since late last year, but it became less of an issue past school age. Anyway, I seem to have memories of dressing up and being part of staging something, feeling included but being able to sit back and enjoy parts of the show at the same time. I wonder if being in the chorus for a show is generally considered relaxing? Having a solo role is certainly not relaxing. Should you have a small role, you spend your entire rehearsal period worrying about messing up your few lines with no chance to redeem yourself, and should you have a large one, you are presented with much more importance and exposure in which to potentially mess up numerous times. Being in the chorus, I imagine you feel some amount of pressure to keep the group standard up, but largely, the old saying of ‘safety in numbers’ must mean a whole lot of weight off one’s mind.
One thing that does concern me about my chorus adventures in the coming weeks though is my natural inability to remain unseen. I literally cannot bear to see areas of stage under used or directions unfollowed, and so I find myself (in the recent times I have doubled as chorus) naturally appearing at the forefront of the action, generally to try and lead. At a curvy 5ft 9in with bright ginger hair, it really isn’t hard to be seen anyway, so why my natural instinct feels it necessary to prompt me thus ways is rather odd. Perhaps it is merely that, without direction otherwise, I am an unintentional chorus ham. I suppose that is one theory I can put to the test!
Genuinely though, I am sure there will be moments of fleeting irritation, jealousy or disappointment through rehearsals in which I should very much like to have been singing a solo role; I presume this is something which bothers many performers, usually soloists, who find they do not fit the bill for a specific show but continue, undeterred, to be involed. One of the best things about the SavoyNet shows seems to be that almost everyone involved is of an exceptionally high standard, with almost all voices well able to hold a principal line if necessary. It is a pleasure to be able to sing with so many excellent singers, and I hope that this year I will be able to spend more time getting to know the people behind them and making friends, rather than focusing on line-learning and exacting dances. I look forward with anticipation to my experiences over the next few weeks and will most certainly be reporting back about how I find it.