by Mike Bryant
I’ve done plenty of weird things in my life, but writing this blog on a Friday night in a busy gay bar next to a sign reading “I can’t talk, I may have damaged my vocal cords so I’m on voice rest” is… well, to be honest, it’s probably not even in the top ten list of weird things I’ve done, but that made one hell of an opening sentence.
How did this happen? Well, if you know me at all, you will know that I consider myself a non-singer. This doesn’t mean that I can’t, on occasion, make nice noises when I sing. What it means is that singing does not come naturally to me. I have a fairly abysmal (read: non-existent) technique in which I mainly sing from my throat as opposed to my diaphragm, and I also have a tendency to muscle my voice into giving me the note that I want. Also, I am a smoker which is not recommended for, well, anything, (no, not even looking cool. Seriously, don’t start. Also don’t do drugs. And stay in school), but smoking is particularly not recommended for singers, or for those wanting to live long, healthy lives.
Last Sunday, there was a roughly ten hour rehearsal, during which we sang a song called Whipped Into Shape over and over and over.
This was already about eight hours into a very long, stressful rehearsal. Callahan only has two small verses in the song and they’re some of the easiest parts for me to sing, so I kept going.
Eventually my throat started feeling like I’d dined on a nutritious meal of raw hedgehog and sea urchin with a sandpaper wrapping. We finished the song and Ben the director said “one more time” and I had to admit defeat. I explained to Ben about the cactus that had taken up residence in my throat and he allowed me to speak the rest of the song.
When I woke up the next day, I sounded like Janis Joplin with laryngitis.
At Tuesday's rehearsal, I was feeling better and tried to force my voice into reaching approximations of the correct note and boom! The prickles returned to my throat.
After rehearsal on Thursday, I explained to the creative team what was going on.
“Vocal rest!” screamed Ben.
“Get more sleep!” assistant musical director Stephen cried.
“Hydrate, bitch!” shouted Michael (who wasn’t even there at the time, but that didn’t stop me hearing his voice in my head).
So, I took Ben’s and Michael’s advice (not Stephen’s, although getting more sleep is a lifelong aspiration that I pray will one day be fulfilled).
For those of you who don’t know, I work in an adult lifestyle shop, which is an uptown way of saying sex shop, which is a less-colourful way of saying palace of sin.
Working there while on vocal rest, turned out to be an interesting experience. I resorted to a bunch of signs which would hopefully convey every desired… desire. The signs went from “Would you like batteries with that?” all the way to “Do you prefer silicone or water-based lubricant?” with some very interesting stops in-between. When the signs failed me, I had to resort to very crude charades. I may be an actor and performer, but the art of mime was never one I had much talent for.
I am also a creature of habit and it has long been my custom to go to Ivy bar after work, so here I am. In a busy night club, writing a blog post and completely unable to talk. As one of my dear friends pointed out, “When Mike can’t talk, everything feels a lot less… high-pitched.”
The staff are having a field day. Steven, the manager of Ivy, came up to me and said “Hey Mike, sing me a song and I’ll buy you drinks all night.”
No dice, Steve. Nothing will sway me from my vocal rest, and I mean nothing.
Not even the very attractive boy that I’ve often admired from afar deciding to finally talk to me.
I’m not sure what’s worse, my luck with men or my luck with poorly-timed illnesses.
It’s now Sunday, I woke up this morning with a body full of phlegm and the realisation that I’m sick as hell and I’m so relieved - I don’t have bronchitis, just a cold!
I’m not suffering from the black plague! I haven’t damaged a vocal cord, I’m just a neurotic excuse of a drama queen!
Thank god. Lots of Vitamin C and water and I should be good as gold come show time.
I would try and think of a proper way to end this blog post, but I have a very attractive boy to track down and show that I can talk again. Wish me luck!