Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A Successful Benefit for NCTC.

Steve standing in front of a poster for the show.

I am happy to report that we raised a lot of money for New Conservatory Theatre Center this past weekend. The house was packed, the singers I invited from the SFGMC to sing with me totally kicked ass on their numbers, and Jimmy brought down the house. (Comedian Jim David, who's there doing "South Pathetic" also contributed 10 side-splitting minutes).

Because this was in support of a challenge matching grant, people made pledges at intermission and now the theatre is very close to meeting their goal, the deadline of which is August 31.

So, that's the headline. Here are some photos taken at the rehearsal.

Jim Brochu during rehearsals.

Steve at the piano during rehearsal.

Steve with Ed Decker, Artistic Director, New Conservatory Theatre Center.

Behind the scenes, I spent most of Saturday putting together ring binders full of music. I had invited KC and Ned from Preoccupied Pipers to join me on bass and drums, but the timing didn't work out. Happily, we were able to use the binders for the chorus members (joining me were Stephen Camarota, John J. Sims, Sanford Smith, Gregory Sandritter, Frank Federico, Marc Savitt and David Jenkins).

All day Monday, we had a tech rehearsal where John Kelly lit the show. That was exhausting. The more of these I do, the more I have to learn to lay back during these rehearsals. The problem is that when I sing, I sing. I don't don't do "halfway." It's just not in my blood. By the time the show came around, I was ready for bed.

However, once I stepped into the bright lights, it was like a shot of adrenalin. Before I even knew it, the first act (which finished with Jim and me doing some Big Voice stuff) was over.

Act two would be songs from "New World Waking." I think I scared a couple of the chorus members because we didn't exactly use the chorus arrangements, so what I told the singers to do was to follow me and just sing whatever felt right using the chorus arrangements as the base idea. And they were great!

(Just for the record, few of the chorus members are professional singers. They do it because they love it. For me, I'd rather have 10 people there with the heart than 100 "professionals" who are only making a paycheck, though it goes without saying most professionals I've worked with are professionals precisely because they sing with heart. But the point stands. The audience knows when a singer is singing from the soul -- and these guys sang with electricity and precision.)

Stephen Camarota singing "Gabi's Song."

John J. Sims singing "War By Default."

The performance shots were taken by Doug Watt. He took others, but said they didn't turn out. It's very hard to set lighting and focus in a dark room.

But here is a shot of the final number with everyone, including Jim, joining us on stage.

Steve Schalchlin, Jim Brochu & members of the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus.
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