Rural Living

Give My Regards to Broadway

by Margo Oxendine, Contributing Writer

Margo Oxendine

Well, the holidays are over. It is said that now, we will suffer the ďpost-holiday blues.Ē

Iím not blue; are you?

If anything, I am exhausted. I look forward to dull, dreary January. I look forward to snowy, or icy, days when one simply must not leave the house. My social calendar is completely clear for January. Ahhhh.

How, you might wonder, can a single woman with one living relative possibly be exhausted? Well, hereís a brief recap of my holiday schedule.

This year (or was it last?), it began in September. We have a theater troupe here in Bath, the Mountain Valley Players. We put on a show in mid-April, and another in mid-November. We held auditions for our fall show Aug. 31, and began rehearsing right after Labor Day. We rehearse every Sunday, until the week before the show. Then, weíre at it every night until the curtain opens Friday.

I sing in every show. I sing what I love, Broadway show tunes. I have discovered how to channel Ethel Merman, Kate Smith, Peggy Lee ó anyone with a not-too-near soprano voice who can belt out a tune. I make up for in volume what I cannot achieve in the high ranges of the scale.

Putting on a production is intense, nerve-wracking work. For months, you mutter to yourself that you canít wait till this cursed show is over. Until the curtain closes on opening night. Then, by golly, the most fabulously wonderful and warm feeling overcomes you and youíre ready to do it again. And again.

This past holiday season, it was a good thing I felt that way. I also joined the Alleghany Highlands Chorale. Singing in a chorale is, I quickly learned, a whole ínother ball game. These folks are trained and talented, and they instantly recognize a quarter- from an eighth-note. I like to find my own tempo. And key. I also learned that thereís no place in a chorale for a Broadway belter. If you canít hear the singer in front of and behind and next to you, youíre singing too loudly. Oops.

While rehearsing for the stage show, I was also rehearsing for the chorale concert. Thatís a lot of singing, day in and day out. I am an innate singer and hummer ó itís fortunate that I live alone, or Iíd surely drive some poor fellow bonkers with the belting and humming and snatches of tunes night and day.

Speaking of ďNight and Day,Ē thatís a favorite song I did for a show at The Homestead in the few days between the play and the chorale concert. What was I thinking, I kept wondering to myself. I guess Iím just a girl who canít say no. Oops. Another song to hum all afternoon.

Some enchanted evening, when I get the blues in the night, I whistle a happy tune and, suddenly, everythingís coming up roses. Oops.

I muttered to myself after the show and the hotel gig and the chorale that I did not care if I ever again wore red lipstick and nail polish, stockings, high heels, or a fancy gown.

Who am I kidding? Ever since I learned to tie my shoes, I longed for high heels. I loved evening gowns, and couldnít wait to wear them. I lived for the chance to dress up. Across from my desk are two photos my mother took when I was four years old. In the first, I am wearing what looks like a black velvet evening gown and pearls. I am ecstatic. In the second, rear view, one can see nothing but my underpants and sturdy brown oxfords. Even then, I was all about the show.

Many children have imaginary friends. I spent my childhood in front of an imaginary audience. Instead of going out to play, Iíd go down to the basement. There, I had a big box full of glittery, glamorous costumes. They were cast-offs from my cousin, who was lucky enough to live in a town where she could take tap-dancing lessons. Oh, how I yearned to tap dance.

Instead, Iíd put on shows and make up my own tap dances. And Iíd belt out tunes as loudly as a little girl can.

That little girl couldnít decide if she wanted to be a reporter or an entertainer when she grew up. Funny how fate has a way of deciding things for you. Que sera, sera. Oops.

 

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