Les Miserables and Me, Confessions of an Alto

Passion. Faith. Greed. Love. I sit in the Channing auditorium with my alto sisters, mentally echoing Jean Val Jean’s shout out to the universe. Who Am I? And why is my memory so dismal? I ignore the larger questions, of course. The ones the characters ponder during this three hour musical extravaganza.

Though, like them, I wonder where it all went wrong. Not with the musical, or our amazing cast who has the choir weeping every night. (At the end of the day, we are out of Kleenex and unable to breath from our noses.) No, the question for me is, why can’t I remember words better?

For example, instead of ‘chaperone,’ I’ve been singing ‘Chapter One.’ My alto sister to my right finally convinced me of the truth, but it is hard to change mid stream. Not for our cast members, of course, who remember all their words plus an incredible number of notes about their acting, (turn your head to the right, not the left, and drop your chin as you exit the stage.) Seriously, they should all receive a Tony and an honorary membership in Mensa.

It eats me up, the contrast between our on stage cast and myself. At one point, (Crystal will fire me for sure) I shouted out, “Send the slut away!” instead of ‘Sack the girl today!” Fortunately, it was during the dress rehearsal. The choir has received notes on diction, and I must shoulder a lot of the blame.

That’s the lovely thing about three performances. There are more chances to get things right. While Javert or Cosette stress about whether they’ve raised their hands at the right time, I’m praying I don’t sing out at the wrong moment. Which happens in choir. We call it ‘pulling a Timmy.’

Now that I’ve thrown another choir member under the bus, I feel a lot better.  I’ll prepare for tonight’s show with a lighter heart. Don my peasant garb, fill my water bottle and hold on to that last tiny cheat sheet. After all, I’m still in the dark about certain things. The answers to life’s big questions. The right words to this musical. I need all the help I can get.

Published by Judith Pettersen

Judith Pettersen is an author living in Canada. She blogs about her life in the north and the ups and downs of being a writer.

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