You just wrapped up a successful run of My Fair Lady at Tacoma Musical Playhouse.It must have been very exciting to play the role of Eliza Doolittle, what were some of the vocal challenges taking on such an iconic role?
Eliza Dolittle has been on my list of dream roles as long as I can remember! What soprano doesn’t want to sing those iconic songs and what actress doesn’t want to sink their teeth into such a meaty role! I have such vivid memories of watching Audrey Hepburn (and hearing Marni Nixon) as a young kid. These are songs that I have been singing my entire life! As an undergraduate music major, I even performed several scenes for my senior recital.
What I didn’t realize until I actually got my hands on the whole part was how difficult it is to blend a chesty, guttural dialect with such a soprano role! Eliza Dolittle has to navigate two different vocal worlds, the Cockney and the Received Pronunciation (RP) and then sing in them both! A cockney dialect can easily get very chesty if you aren’t careful and that isn’t a place where you can speak long and emotional scenes and then suddenly sing with a very head mix dominant sound. To be truthful, I was vocally exhausted after every rehearsal for the first several weeks.
Thank heavens for Jeanie, as with a single Skype lesson she was able to help me adjust my speech to be headier in the Cockney dialect so that it could easily lead into the singing. My voice was happy navigating through all those dialects and I was able to thrive through two show days and a case of acid reflux! Once again Jeanie saves the day!