After the film ended, and people groaned from sitting in the same spot for three hours and listening to klezmer-inspired music (a feat of strength for goyim everywhere), Laura took to the front of the room and told us just exactly what we signed up for.
See, and I didn’t know this, the last production the society had put on was in one of the dining halls of one of the colleges on campus. They performed it on a stage about twenty feet by twenty feet and had to combat a thunder storm and raging rain. Moreso, they hadn’t run through the show until the night before. In a dramatic, violent shift towards professionalism, this time, everything would change.
First of all, we’d be performing in a theater in the nearby town of Whitstable. It was a 189-seat auditorium. She showed us pictures, and I had to think to myself, “Holy crap, this looks respectable.” The interior was... Edwardian. I think is the term. Basically, the place looked nice. The sort of establishment you’d go to and expect the actors to know what they were doing and treat drama seriously.
Next came the rehearsal schedule. Now, allow me to preface this by saying that, sometimes, I am remarkably bad about putting myself in other peoples’ shoes. Sometimes I forget that not everyone has the life of a grad student. So, when I saw that we’d have two or three rehearsals a week, I thought, “That’s it?” and then went on a minor interior monologue about how these people were plebians, and how they couldn’t possibly expect to put on a show worthy of—then I remembered that a) I was the only postgrad in the room and that b) some of these people were in legitimate degrees.
I calmed down a bit and sat back. Laura continued going through the particulars, when we’d get librettos (a new term in my vocabulary: the book that contains the lines and vocal sheet music), when we’d have dance rehearsals, yadda yadda.
Then Lizzie the music director stood up and said she’d get a show-worthy voice out of all of us. I almost took this as a challenge to disappoint both her and myself, but then realized such a thing was beyond stupidity and, wisely, decided that I wouldn’t do that after all.
I turned to Dixie and said, “Man, it’s like I’m going to actually have to try.”
Dixie furrowed his brow. “You weren’t going to before?”
“I—er, well, I was.”
“Then why did you say that?”
“Cause it was a—”
“Who’s Tevye?” someone up front asked. I was a bit surprised that they hadn’t asked it earlier, to be honest.
I raised my hand and squeaked, “I am.”
The people in the room turned to face me, clothes shuffling audibly against against seats.
I was on display and, unconsciously, I sank down a little bit more in my seat as someone said, “Huh.”
Shortly after that, we all filed out—most people to go drinking. Dixie and a couple other people went back to his to play beer pong. He invited me, but I thought back to the last time we played beer pong and declined. (The events of that night may or may not have included me shouting, “Yes, I killed Christ, and I’d do it again if I had the chance!” It was, to be fair, a very drunken night and there were just one too many Jewish jokes being thrown around.) Instead, James the Greek and I meandered down to Rutherford bar for a couple pints to close out the place.
Along the way, I got the first of what I consider to be my singing lessons. Much as I thought, I found it really hard to pitch by myself. But I found what did work: mimicking. And while that wasn’t the correct way to go about learning something, it worked. Kind of. Some of the time.
Anyway, I don’t remember a lot of what we talked about in the bar, but I do remember deciding that I’d go to Whitstable the next day and check out this theater. Know my enemy, so to speak.