Monday, February 7, 2011

At least my pants didn't fall down.

I guess you could say I'm a selfish person.

Scratch that, I'm a very selfish person.

So that's why this Saturday evening, when the several hundred people in the audience watched the lights come up on the stage and saw me, smack dab in the middle, sitting cross-legged in pajamas holding Twilight, that moment was supposed to be all about me.

If there's ever a moment all about you, that's it.

Let's rewind.

At the dress rehearsal, two techs helped me get the headmic on, attaching the pack to the back of my bra, under my shirt. I sang "Happily Ever After" from Once Upon A Mattress with my fabulous accompanist on piano, with the lights dazzling me in a grand theatre, and a photographer snapping away somewhere in the darkness. Awesome. The techs said I'd have to be careful at the show that the antenna on my micpack didn't get bent under my shirt, but that everything else was great.

The day of the show, I didn't even paint my nails to match my outfit. That's how nervous I was.

I arrived early, helped sign people in, smiled pretty at the parent-managers, and tried to relax. This was the third year in a row I'd performed at this show. And since I'm so gosh darn selfish, I knew I'd planned everything I could far in advance so that it would be spectacular.

I guess it kinda was spectacular. Just not in the way I'd planned.

At the end of intermission, the stage manager handed me the headmic. My accompanist helped clip it on and, lemme tellya, there's something really funny about looking in the mirror and seeing a rectangular box prominently sticking out under your shirt. I felt like I was wearing a wire.

I was ready. Totally pumped. The tech wasn't so pumped though, she was a little hesitant, and she made me whisper into the headmic for several minutes to make sure it was working properly.

Finally, she decided that the antenna on the headmic still wasn't picking up securely enough. She unclipped it, and attached it to the back of my pajama pants.

Um...okay, yeah. The pack is fairly heavy, and my pajama pants were actual pajama pants so they just had a regular elastic band at the waist, and it would be really really awful if my pants fell down in the middle of a show...yeah.

So the tech duct taped the pack to my pants. So in case it was too heavy, it would definitely bring down my pants. I'm not sure what her thinking was there.  I was too nervous to comment.

The tech joked that if the headmic didn't work, she'd run on stage and give me a handheld mic like a racer in a relay. I laughed. Sure.

As I stood in the wings, clutching Twilight, I noticed the hole in my sock. Whoops.

At the time, I didn't know that that, or my pants falling off, would be the least of my problems.

The MC finished, my accompanist took her place by the piano, I went straight to centre stage and sat on the long fuzzy grey bench, and the lights came up.

This would be the moment all about me.

I opened my mouth and began the prologue: "And so the Prince Wilmore rescued the Princess Frigga--"

I realized that the headmic was not working the same moment the audience did, but kept going. Shit.

There is a wonderful phenomenon called schadenfreude--Avenue Q wrote a song about it!--and like any audience watching a potential disaster, they were highly entertained.

"Well, I'm glaaaad." I said, at the end of the prologue. That should have gotten a laugh. It didn't because no one was paying attention to the song.

My accompanist, wondering if anything was going to happen to fix the headmic, hesitated before beginning to play. That threw me off, and suddenly, this was no longer a potential disaster.

I was projecting my heart out in the first verse, when I heard something. I turned to the left and the tech was running out with a handheld mic, as she'd promised.

I don't remember much after that. Instead of concentrating on the trouble notes I'd been having, or the right posture, or even the music itself, I was feverishly gripping the handheld mic, wondering if it was too close--close enough?--and hoping desperately not to drop it.

At the end of the song, I sang the last note while standing on the bench, then jumped down and slumped on to it sullenly, as rehearsed. Cue applause.

The techs backstage went to blackout immediately--before I could even stand up and curtsy--so I was swept offstage with the bench and the piano and the MC replaced me with a joke and the bio of the next act.

The relief was overwhelming as I handed off the handheld mic, ripped the duct tape and headmic off, hugged my accompanist, and ran.

This is a classic reason of why I get nervous before performing. Because no matter how much you rehearse, shit will happen. You will fall into the orchestra pit. You will forget the lyrics. You will be left projecting across the theatre with a broken headmic.

I guess it's pretty funny. The audience was definitely entertained, just not in the way I wanted. But I'm aggravated because, gosh darn it!, the moment that was supposed to be all about me, was all about technology.

And thus, I am a selfish person.