by Ellen Walsh, Supertonic Guest Writer
Showmance, the title of our forthcoming show with Footlights, is one of my favourite things: a portmanteau. A portmanteau can basically be defined as a linguistic blend of words, and for me, the show will also be a musical blend of worlds.
Musical theatre and I have a long and lovely history; watching The Sound of Music and Annie religiously on the weekends, forever being amazed at the sudden technicolour world that Dorothy finds herself in in The Wizard of Oz, my mum 'washing that man right out of my hair'. And most recently, the new and similarly fantastic ‘modern musicals’ that are just as addictive, even if it means I’m quietly weeping at emotional torch songs in public, or awkwardly rapping. (No one needs to hear that. Make me stop.) I really got into seeing Footlights productions - they’re very good, you should go see all of them - scratching the itch for live musical theatre in the city where I live.
Theatre classes when I was younger were never that successful. Some of us just aren’t born to dance and I was never light of foot in tap class. But the singing thing - the singing thing I could do and I loved it. I think particularly at school you really have to love something to go to choir at lunchtime, right?
I loved choir, but only as an adult am I able to fully settle into my choir nerd-ery without shame. It’s even on my profile on my work intranet. I will literally talk your ear off about Supertonic if I can segue it into a conversation. I truly never expected that random audition that I decided to do after a significant break away from choir would change my life so much. Seriously. (I was told I could write about my feelings so there are some feelings, what of it).
For all that, there was always an itch for musical theatre still waiting to be scratched. I even studied a Bachelor of Performing Arts Management, worked as a stage manager, but never quite got the opportunity to stage manage a musical as I moved away from doing theatre as a job full time. Until I had a happenstance conversation with the lovely Ellie, who is in Footlights and Supertonic, about how they needed a stage manager for Heathers: The Musical and I got to do it for real! It was a full on show, fun and challenging for everyone involved, but so well done and they dealt with the difficult subject matter beautifully. It was surprisingly emotional for me to be able to stage manage a musical with them; it meant more to me to do it than I thought.
I really loved stage managing Heathers, but I’m sure I was incredibly irritating backstage with my singing. I was that stage manager. Way too invested in the show. Why speak cue lines, when you can sing them right? So it’s really great that we’re doing Showmance and that my musical worlds can collide. I can finally sing musical theatre on a stage with my Supertonic friends and some new Footlights friends. There’s a luscious mix of some glorious chorus numbers, snappy small group performances, and solos which are all so very good if you’re coming you’re in for a treat.
The very best thing of all is that I can finally, finally perform songs from musical theatre but I don’t have to dance... well, not too much, I hope. If I do, I hope there’s no tap-dancing.
Buy tickets for Showmance, a concert celebrating friendship, community and musical theatre on December 10th, by clicking this link.