Well, that was a blast !
Sometimes being a “swing” in a production really keeps you behind the scenes as the “insurance” policy for a multi-million dollar production like Jersey Boys. Then…a night like tonight comes along.
I got to be the swing in front of 75,000 people instead of “only” 1,800. Don’t get me wrong…anytime I perform, it’s exciting, and once I performed in Romania in a huge Chorale of 60 for only 15 in the audience. That was one of my favorite performances I can remember. But when the audience gets to be that huge [75,000] and you can see them like Lake Michigan laid out before your eyes…you just have to block it out, and do your thing.
Now, I’m a Baritone, and proud of it! But this last week, I had an upper respiratory infection, I had to call out of the show, missing three performances Tuesday and Wednesday…coughing and losing my voice in the process. I also knew I had to be on call for the other five performances coming up, and sing two national anthems coming up on Friday and Saturday.
Thursday, as the dance captain, we had a “put in” rehearsal involving three actors: our new “Bob Crewe”, and understudies for one of the four seasons and one of the girls. I needed to be there to take notes, and figured even though my voice wasn’t all the way recovered I could still come take notes, be useful, and not use the sick day. Ah…the fickle finger of fate.
After the rehearsal, I got the call to play Four Season Nick Massi at 5:30 for the 7:30 performance that Thursday. Luckily Nick is a Bass, but I used every thing I had and by the time “Who Loves You” came along I have to admit if I wasn’t singing solo, I was mouthing the words for the finale. I used the last flicker of voice I had in Rag Doll. Let’s just say…my final monologue was the strong but silent type.
The next day, the cast sings the National Anthem for the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley. I’ve never been to Wrigley, and couldn’t miss this opportunity…luckily I was on the Bass part of the arrangement. I sang, shook the coach’s hand, stayed one inning, and went home to steam. And I wasn’t on that night…thank goodness!
Saturday there were two shows, and a “Frankie” couldn’t go sing the anthem since they were needed at the theatre…so I was lucky enough to be asked to go to the Chicagoland Speedway to pick the lowest key possible for my fatigued voice while trying to get a couple “money notes” in there.
Boy, was I glad I got to do that! I really didn’t realize how patriotic I am. Just to have a color guard there from our armed forces presenting our nation’s gorgeous flag was enough to make me emotional. I love the ceremony, and reverence they brought to an Indy raceway…quasi-religious. I realized, yet again how lucky I am to live in this country, and to have a steady, stellar job in this economic time of stress. I had just dialed my parents cell phone, and handed the phone to Michelle, our PR rep, and I knew they were listening on speaker phone in the living room in Rome, GA. My mom (a great singer) reminded me the day before…sing the anthem “straight” with respect…don’t add anything…it doesn’t need it. She was right, of course…unless you are Whitney Houston, or Jennifer Hudson, whom I am NOT.
Race fans are really patriotic. Go figure ! I got emotional hearing them cheer and applaud when I got to a phrase like “rockets red glare” or “land of the free”, I even turned to the flag…it just seemed right as I was singing “oh say does that star spangled banner yet wave”. Hearing your voice in reverb a second and a half after you’ve actually song is fairly confusing, and you just have to tune it all out. With all that was going on in my head trying to keep the pitch/key consistant and the tempo, it was impossible not to tune out all the proud Americans in the stands. “Goosebump Central”…all over my body.
It was a night I won’t ever forget, and I’m glad I have a little video reminder to remind me, the understudy got to go on…sick at the Speedway, and didn’t mess it up too bad. It was a little low, but Nick Massi would have been proud. (My mom gave me an A+, thanks Mom.)
-Jared Bradshaw (Swing: Nick, Crewe, Gyp, Hank, Norm, Knuckles, dance captain/JERSEY BOYS)