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!
What advice do you have for aspiring performers who are thinking about pursuing careers in musical theatre and singing? Do you have any specific considerations for performers on the West Coast?
Advice? Voice teachers never have advice! That’s a joke, we ALWAYS have advice. There is a lot that needs to be on the plate of a young music theatre performer. You are going to have to do a lot of things really well, in a lot of different styles. Your voice needs to be able to do anything! Learn how to belt, learn how to sing legit, learn different styles since it will all be required of you.
But most importantly, be true to your brand, and only ever present your best work. There will come a time when someone offers you a part that you aren’t right for, either vocally or for some other reason. Don’t take the part! You don’t need to show yourself in something other than your best light. When someone thinks of your name they need to think of only positive adjectives.
As far as West Coast specific advice, get a side hustle and make your own opportunities! There is amazing theater going on here and you could be part of some phenomenal shows but it’s rare not to have another gig of some kind as well. The West Coast is a great jumping off point, but you can’t expect others to hand things to you. So, make sure you know how to make money doing other artistic/creative things, and don’t be afraid to do the old Rooney/Garland thing and put on your own show!
When did you first meet Jeanie LoVetri and what has Somatic Voicework™ done for you as a singer and a teacher?
In the summer before my second year of graduate school at NYU, I was devastated to find out that I had lost my voice teacher from the previous year. Little did I know that the universe had given me one of it’s greatest gifts! On a fall day in 2004, I hiked up to the Upper West Side to the studio of my new voice teacher, Jeanie LoVetri. I pulled up every bit of courage I had and walked in that door. In very Jeanie fashion, this very loving and direct woman told me every bit of truth I could handle about my voice. She then began to work her magic and I was hooked! Then she worked her magic one more time and began to pepper my lessons with voice science and vocal pedagogy and I have never looked back. I was very blessed to meet Jeanie at such a young age, as I have never really known my work without Somatic Voicework being a part of it. What is remarkable is that 14 years later, I still learn something astounding from Jeanie every time we are together.
You will be associate faculty at this summer’s LoVetri Institute for Somatic Voicework™, what are you looking forward to about this summer’s institute?
We are just a few shorts weeks away from this year’s institute and I couldn’t be more excited to be back again! The environment for learning was phenomenal last year and I have been aching for it ever since! There is such sense of community, inclusion and discovery at Baldwin Wallace! A group of people who devour knowledge — who doesn’t want to be part of that! I can’t wait to help usher a new group of people into this pedagogy, reconnect with old friends, and learn so many new things!
What other exciting things are on your horizon?
There are some really fun things on the horizon for me! I am currently rebranding my voice studio. Rare Bird Studios will have it’s grand opening in August! This will give me the umbrella to begin some fun new projects including producing my own recitals. As I stated before, you can’t be afraid to make your own opportunities! In addition to that, we are working hard to get Jeanie back out to the Pacific Northwest, fingers crossed!
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