First of all, we were totally fresh after not having done the show in a long time. It all felt totally new. Secondly, the shape of the theatre with its steep rake, brought the audience right into our laps, almost face to face. This was so different from the vastly inferior audience/performer experience in New York where we were on an elevated stage with the audience looming way down below us. The separation there made it very difficult to connect.
Thirdly, the most surprising thing was how alive the room felt. We are singing acoustically -- no microphones -- and when I was singing during rehearsals, the room felt very dead. I was really afraid that the sound would suffer. But, weirdly, with people in the room, against all expectations, the room became MORE ALIVE. I could feel them breathing -- and I could hear my own voice as clear as if I were in a tiny, acoustically perfect room. So, rather than trying to oversing, I was able to sing quietly, using the most tender parts of my voice. Jim also. He sounded so beautiful on "You Are A Stranger."
The reason this is important to me is that the louder I sing, the less attractive my voice sounds. It's just a fact. But when I can sing quietly and tenderly, it brings out my the best qualities. Again, something we couldn't do as well in New York because we were mic'd and we had no monitors, so we couldn't hear ourselves.
This last point is important. When I sing, I change how I sing subconsciously by listening. I need to "feel" the room. From the walls to the ceiling to the floor to what's in front of me, the sound waves seemingly adjust themselves. In fact, after the show, Ed Decker, the producer, came up to me and said that he worried for a moment during the first song that we weren't quite filling the room. But he said, "And then you raised your level just 'that' much and suddenly I could hear every note and every word."
And that was because *I* could hear every note and every word.
And I absolutely believe that it was this natural sound, without the distance created by amplification, that pulled the audience into the songs. And for the first time, "Where Is God" not only stopped the show but got "Bravos." Bravos! So did "Beyond The Light." In fact, the ovation continued long after the black-out and into the moment where I'm standing in the spot. It felt so GOOD!
The reason I'm so excited about this is that when we were doing our run-through yesterday, though it went really smoothly, all I kept thinking was, "This is terrible. This isn't funny. These songs suck. This is so old." I was just so not into it. We needed an audience! And what an audience!
By the end of the show, they were on their feet immediately. The most enthusiastic ovation imaginable. And afterwards, in the lobby, we hugged everyone, of course. Our favorite thing. It was fantastic. And so many of them commented on how glad they were that that show was not amplified. Hey! Ethel didn't need no amps!
Bev Sykes and me. Bev blogged about the show here.And that was our first performance. Opening night is Saturday.