Getting To Know You
I had a serendipitous meeting with Beckie Menzie, when I was doing a general audition in Chicago in March. She was working as the accompanist for the audition and afterwards I contacted her to remind her that I’d asked after her Christmas show to get together early in 2013 so that I might get her input on my cabaret project. She was willing so I set up a coaching session with the main goal of getting better acquainted.
I had seen Beckie perform several times recently and had known of her reputation as a leader in the Chicago cabaret scene. She is a wonderful entertainer and a highly sought after musical director in cabaret. Actually I had known of her activities for a very long time since I saw her work early on as a music director and performer at the Wagon Wheel Playhouse in Warsaw, Indiana where it was well known that she was pursuing cabaret in Chicago. Beckie and I are both natives of Michiana and have similar backgrounds. I am delighted to see her success in her chosen field.
The coaching session proved to be very helpful. We worked constructively on one of my audition pieces and looked at a second, which needs to be transposed. She gave me some excellent guidance and positive feedback as to the choices and my execution. Generally she was supportive of my gifts as a singer and ability to take direction which was encouraging.
She did observe that my voice was rather “reedy” and that my high notes could be more effortless. While she didn’t state it pointedly I gleaned that on-going vocal technique work would be beneficial, a conclusion which I was already thinking was valid. I know I’m pushing the envelope as a vocalist since my experience is primarily as a singing actor and a comedian, I have only ventured warily into the primary identification as a “vocalist.”
She was very insistent that I get out of our session what I sought. I assured her that the main purpose of introducing my-self and my work had been accomplished, but I went on to show her some of my “play lists.” These are the program of songs which I have been developing for Songs for the Season. Her first impression was that I needed more familiar material and less obscure (or novel) selections. I’m taking her observation under consideration. She has a point.
It is a delicate balance between finding material that is right for me as a performer and that which will appeal to a popular audience. The selection process begs the question of what I’m trying to achieve and for whom. Food for thought. This I know: my one on one with Beckie was very productive.