Being a copy editor for the sports section of The New Paltz Oracle, you wouldn’t expect musical theatre to be on my list of hobbies. But there was a time in my life where all of my free time was devoted to being a part of musical productions.
I started doing musicals when I did my high school’s production of “Beauty and the Beast” my freshman year. I remembered that I liked doing my school’s plays in elementary school, but I didn’t continue doing them in middle school. I can’t exactly remember why I decided to join the play, I’m pretty sure I saw a poster for it in the hallways and thought “Sure, why not?” That well thought-out reasoning led me to doing the show every year of my high school life, and I pretty much met all of my friends through the school’s musicals.
There was one problem with my sudden interest in theatre. My school exclusively did musicals, which require acting, dancing and singing. Acting came very naturally to me, so that wasn’t a problem. I never took a dance class in my life, but I wasn’t horrible at it. Singing on the other hand… Well, let’s just say it’s difficult to sing well when you’re born with a mono-toned voice that is audible to whales. Add in that I looked like a middle schooler (I can probably still pass as one), and the fact that there are not many parts for people who look like they’re 12 and sound like they’re 39, and you may realize why I never got a lead in any of my school’s shows.
But during my freshman and sophomore year, I had hoped that with enough practice I could overcome my lack of a natural singing voice. I did community theatre shows outside of my high school in hopes of improving. I did get better, going from completely tone deaf to at the very least being able to carry a tune. In fact during my sophomore year I was cast as a supporting role that only involved speaking, so I thought if I could continue to make progress with my singing I could very well get a lead or two in my junior and senior years. My chorus teacher recommended a vocal trainer to me, but this was when things went downhill.
I had one lesson with the vocal trainer, and long story short she pretty much told me that I sucked and I should never sing again. Then in my junior year I was thrown back into the ensemble while all of my friends were the main leads in the show. Yes, it sucked.
During my senior year I was given a small role and had to watch my friends play the main parts, again. But I had a bit of a different mindset this time around. Instead of trying to improve my weakness, singing, I decided to focus on my strength, acting. I learned to make the most of every second in every scene I was in. I was much better suited to do this than to try and do something I just wasn’t born to do.
After that show my senior year, I decided to not keep musical theatre around in my life as much as I had in the past. My friends would try to convince me to audition for a play that doesn’t require any singing skills when I got to college, but the idea just didn’t interest me. I guess I had enough of being disappointed with my performance abilities.
However, there is a happy ending to this story. Last semester I saw the Fresh Act performance in Parker Theatre. For those of you who don’t know, Fresh Act is an organization on campus that showcases a couple of student-run scenes, no singing involved. So I decided to audition for Fresh Act this semester, and all of those past disappointments paid off as I was casted. We’ve only started rehearsing our scene recently, but I have had so much fun and I know this is something I will want to do in my future semesters here at New Paltz. I guess when singing is taken out of the equation, I actually have a chance to play a lead role.
With that said, I won’t be pursing acting in my life. I don’t plan on majoring or even minoring in the performing arts. But after this wonderful experience, I wouldn’t mind keeping acting around in some form. You can judge my performance skills at Parker Theatre on April 30 and May 1. Just don’t ask me to sing.