Make a Fool of Yourself!

Today I attended a masterclass hosted by Susan Hanlon, a voice teacher in Dallas, and Izzie Baumann, a voice teacher and performance coach in Mainz, Germany. The clinician was Christian Borle, Broadway star and Tony award winner (Peter and the Starcatcher, Something Rotten). He worked with six singers from the US to Germany.

Photo: Emilio Madrid-Kuser for Broadway.com)

He was an engaged and engaging clinician, and offered some terrific insights. It was the fastest 90 minutes I’ve experienced in a while. Here are a few takeaways (in my own words, mostly, because that’s how I take notes):

  1. Focus on the “but” and “so” — transitional terms that give you some direction .
  2. Take your time! Space is good!
  3. Furrowing your eyebrows indicates a place of self-pity. That’s not to say you can’t furrow your eyebrows, but save it!
  4. Toxic people are a dealbreaker (not an audition/performance tip, just a life one).
  5. If the people behind the table don’t make you feel comfortable, know how to make yourself feel comfortable.
  6. Unless you’re given a specific time/measure limit, think about telling the story and let them cut you off when they’ve heard enough.
  7. It’s okay to use physical cues to indicate a change between sections.
  8. “Make some goofy, ebullient physical choice that you have to recover from because you just made a full of yourself.” – which leads me to –
  9. “Make a fool out of yourself! Make a big choice right out of the gate!”

I really want to focus on the making fools of ourselves part (with goofy, ebullient physical choices and physical cues) going forward, especially as we approach audition season (NATS, college, Hal Leonard, etc.).

While I was writing this, Izzie sent me the screenshot from the class. (Why do I look like I have an overbite?)

Published by Mezzoid Voice Studio

Christine Thomas-O'Meally, a mezzo soprano and voice teacher currently based in the Baltimore-DC area, has performed everything from the motets of J.S. Bach to the melodies of Irving Berlin to the minimalism of Philip Glass. As an opera singer and actress, she has appeared with companies such as Charm City Players, Spotlighters Theatre, Chicago Opera Theater, Opera Theater of Northern Virginia, Opera North, the Washington Savoyards, In Tandem Theatre, Windfall Theater, The Young Victorian Theater of Baltimore, and Skylight Opera Theatre. She created the role of The Woman in Red in Dominick Argento’s Dream of Valentino in its world premiere with the Washington Opera and Mary Pickersgill in O'er the Ramparts at its world premiere during the Bicentennial of Battle of Baltimore at the Community College of Baltimore County. Other roles include Mrs. Paroo in Music Man, Mother Abbess in Sound of Music, Dorabella in Cosi Fan Tutte, Marcellina in Le Nozze di Figaro, both Hansel and the Witch in Hansel & Gretel, and many roles in Gilbert & Sullivan operettas. Her performance as the Housekeeper in Man of La Mancha was honored with a WATCH award nomination. Ms. Thomas-O'Meally received an M.M. in vocal performance from the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore. She regularly attends master classes and workshops in both performance and vocal pedagogy, and is certified in all three Levels of Somatic Voicework™ The LoVetri Method. Her students have performed on national and international tours of Broadway productions, at prestigious conservatories, and in regional theater throughout the country.

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