Chaos Attraction

Musical and Musical Improv Day

2016-01-30, 2:54 p.m.

On Saturday, I finally (finally) got to take a musical improv class--they got rid of the 8 week long class and are now down to a 2 hour workshop. So be it. Given my winter agoraphobia, it worked out very well that this was during daylight hours. I literally hadn't been there in three months, so it was good to see people again--it was pretty much old school people in the workshop. It was a lot of fun.

Lecture notes:
* If you can't sing, sing LOUDER.
* People usually have a fear of public speaking and singing.
* The whole point of musical improv is to be laughed at.
* Nobody likes watching someone onstage who is uncomfortable--commit to it.
* You can always say you played a character who can't sing! Like, say, Brian! "I shit on Brian in a lot of my workshops because he's an easy target."
* Sing from the diaphragm and have good posture.
* "When you can't sing, it's because you're not singing loud enough." No, seriously. More air helps.
* "Most people think they suck at singing because they think they suck at singing."
* Melody is the notes that you're singing that you perceive as a whole.
" "The best melodies are children's songs" because they get stuck in your head. Twinkle Twinkle is a favorite of his.
* The chorus always gets stuck in your head--higher pitch, longer notes.
* You want repetition and variation at the same time.
* Pitch is how we measure frequencies
* It's okay to be repetitive when coming up with melodies.
* Emulate children's songs--easier, people relate to them.
* Lyrics--you do not have to rhyme. It's nice if you do, but trying to rhyme can screw with you.
* Do something that we can connect to and makes sense.

We all had to start out by making up a song about ourselves--mine was about doing whackadoodle Christmas knitting. Then after doing a few singing exercises----singing ho, ho, ho, making police siren noises, doing "do re mi" like in The Sound of Music"--then we did Gibberish Opera--basically you act out an opera while singing gibberish and occasionally someone attempts to narrate the action. The first group did "The Fireman's Son," in which a fireman's son wanted to ah, do something else with a pole :) and then the fireman decided to set fire to the dance club. The son put it out. Ironic, or as the narrator put it, "Dreams don't matter, that's the moral of the story!"

The show I was in was "The Magical Monacle." I can't say I ever quite figured out what was magical about the monacle beyond that it made people homicidal or something? I played somebody trying to help the guy find his monacle and then he suddenly stabbed me out of nowhere. Naturally I felt like I had to do a big dramatic stage fall....and we'll get back to that moment later.

The next game up was "Sing It," in which you do a usual sort of scene, but if you say a particularly funny line Lincoln (instructor) rings a bell and then makes you make up a song about it on the spot. Which is why in a scene about four square we had a song called "You Lubed That Ball Up." I am apparently very good at being a spontaneous backup singer, so yay for that. The other scene involved the question of, will baby bottle nipples fit on a beer bottle, because we're out of baby bottles, and ended in a country western musical for no good reason.

Then we did "My Musical," which is kinda like "My Movie" (game in which you make up a movie based on the title). Ours involved titles like "Dairy Farm Disaster" ("won't someone milk my udders?"), "Rachel Strikes Again" (Rachel gives her bully a swirly and gets lunch money out of HIM, damn skippy), and "Jupiter Rising," in which a guy wakes up on another planet and gets asked to be the king of the chickens, a musical in which Santa is a jerk, one in which people are keying cars, and one in which someone finds an already-trained bear in the woods.

We finally ended in a game of musical chairs, in which every loser had to make up a song based on a suggestion from the audience. I ended up making up one about stealing a rose from a garden, pricking my finger and leaving blood as evidence, setting the blood on fire to get rid of the evidence (I have read too many Kate Daniels books) and then the inevitable occurred there.

It was a lot of fun and I wanna do more. It was good to remember what improv is like again. I really need to drag myself the hell over there more, dammit.

So awhile back Mom got us tickets to see The Wizard of Oz in San Jose, which meant that I had to drive down to the Bay Area right after taking this class. After it ended, I finally found the parking garage I had parked in, pulled out my phone to do the requisite "yes, I'm leaving" phone call and....DUM DUM DUUUUUUUUUUM I HAD BROKEN MY PHONE. By landing on it. Yes, I broke my phone by dying in a fake opera. How uh, fitting?

Anyway, to some degree the phone has been nearing the end of its life--it's over five years old and hasn't liked to download anything or work with USB ports very often for quite some time and other buggy things--so I guess it wasn't a total shock/gonna happen eventually. On the other hand, that wasn't the world's best timing for that sort of thing, since I'd planned to drive directly from Sac to Mom's and use the GPS because I was too lazy to get directions written down. I ended up having to drive home to use a land line and leave her phone messages (good luck finding a pay phone anywhere), and then drove my usual route I didn't need GPS for. Which was fine, albeit I'd look at people pulled over on the road and think "aw crap, what if something happens?" Because darn it, it's nervewracking going anywhere without phone backup.

Anyway, I got there in time and we did manage to make it to San Jose. Unfortunately, Mom tried to find some rumored $5 parking lot that someone told her about, and printed directions to, and we did not find it or it doesn't exist. Someone told us to go to another parking lot instead, and we ended up in a $10 lot nearer to the theater (also where the actors park--I got to see the two dogs playing Toto leave), so that worked well. On the other hand, the printed instructions were useless to lead us out of town from a strange street on the way home, Mom just kept yelling at me (it didn't help either that she prematurely turned on the wrong street and got lost) until I got her phone's GPS to work. Ugh.

Anyway...I will admit: I wasn't excited about this, I didn't remember agreeing to going, I was rather cranky about shlepping down there in winter in the first place, and I'm not a superfan of The Wizard of Oz. It's okay, but not like a crazy favorite of mine. However, this show was AMAZING. Better than the movie, certainly better than the version I saw in high school. It was SOUPED UP. The special effects were amazing. They didn't actually throw water (or any other substance) on the Witch, but other than that, everything was amazing. Great use of scrims and video to portray the tornado, great lighting and color use in Kansas and in Oz, and there's a lot more details about how Dorothy hangs out with Professor Marvel to how the farm people are analogies to the Oz people, to having the Lion make a lot more lion jokes, to the bit where "Oh, Scarecrow, I'll miss you most of all," because FINALLY the other two guys are all, "hey, wait, what are we, chopped liver?" "Oh, I just meant I've known him longer!" Then they had a four-person hug.

They also had some adorable Toto(s) who were perfectly well behaved and sat still when needed and ran when needed and were cute as buttons. Dorothy even would wave his paw to say goodbye to their friends and to the audience. The stage set for the witch's castle was amazing, Glinda's dress was just THE BEST, all glitter, at one point the witch is yelling at us all from the audience (right by us), the colors are bright and lovely, at one point Dorothy somehow has a color changing dress change ON STAGE when her blue-checked dress suddenly becomes green-checked and sparkly... and the plot was good, too! So I really, really enjoyed it and would chalk it up as one of the best shows I've ever seen. Go figure!

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