My parents loved musicals and as an only child I had the privilege to attend many of them from a very young age. Later after the State Theater opened in Pretoria in the hay days of the Performing arts councils I saw many more - Hello Dolly, Camelot, Oklahoma - you name it! In later years Hunter and I saw the unforgettable Cats and breathtaking Phantom of the Opera. Of course there are the movies of the musicals that our kids love - Wizard of Oz, Mary Poppins and Annie are firm favorites.
It's a tough and busy program over a weekend of music. Solid hours of practice after receiving the sheet music and MP3 to practice on your own. I arrive on Friday night, happy to see familiar faces from school and church - even a family member, but very unsure of how well I know the music and words. I am very nervous about the "Les Misrable" medley which I struggled to learn on my own. Parts of the "Chess" medley merge into a bundle of notes... all the jumbled intricacies of Queen's music are turning in my head - how on earth did I think I could manage this...
But somehow the moment you hear the orchestra and the other voices join things seem to fall into place. By coffee break I feel a bit more sure of myself. By the end of Friday night's rehearsal I am not so sure about all this any more - we struggled through some of the pieces. But we get homework - to watch and listen to some originals of the works on You Tube. That night in my bed "Les Mis" comes together for me. On Saturday morning it is as if things simply fell together over night for the whole group - and suddenly I think, just maybe , this will be great. This could be magic.
On Saturday afternoon we have our first performance. All dressed in our concert blacks with a touch of red we are ready, and I am nervous. After the Cats overture by the Orchestra we launched into Phantom of the Opera. The sound is huge - an orchestra, organ and 402 voices. After all that practice at home and over the weekend it indeed feels like magic. In my mind and in my voice I am Sandy in Grease, Grizabella singing Memory in Cats - Elaine Paige has nothing on us when we sing "I know him so well". Our voices soar to the sky when we sing "You'll never walk alone" and we put our common hats on for "Les Miserables" and cheer to the Master of the House. Proudly South African we sing from" Ipi Tombi " and "Ons vir jou Suid Afrika". The medley from Mama Mia has us all acting and singing like "Dancing Queens" and we tackle the unforgettable music of Queen from their musical "We will rock you" . We are inspired by solos from the beautiful Magdaleen Minaar that sings with us and I get goosebumps every time I hear two guitars and a violin play "Somewhere over the rainbow"
And briefly for 3 performances I was Maria on top of that mountain singing "The hills are alive with the sound of music..." followed by the song I chose when the original call for suggestions went out - "Climb every mountain". An unforgettable experience of song, soul and friendship. In my heart (and sometimes even physically) I keep singing:
The hills are alive with the sound of music
with songs they have sung for a thousand years.
The hills fill my heart with the sound of music
My heart wants to sing ev-'ry song it hears"
The Capital Singers is a mass choir initiative by Boabab Music that functions as a project choir. This was the first time I took part in it and I have already registered for the next one. It was mere chance - or maybe Kismet, that the first project I took part in was one featuring musicals.