Saturday, July 16, 2011

If You Would Like To Sing

Maybe it's the odd pairing of  New Orleans of the 20's & 30's and NYC of the 80's for Paula Vogel's The Oldest Profession. Maybe it's a line in the audition notes: "If you would like to sing, you should have 16 bars of something prepared to sing. "

Off I went, imagining a playlist of contemporary and vintage songs. Kiss & Say Goodbye by the McGarrigles is a heavy favorite. Jimmie Rodgers' Any Old Time is a close second. What do you mean, if I would like to sing. I'm always ready to sing. Try and stop me.

In any case, since the Dayton Theatre Guild first mentioned its plan to stage The Oldest Profession, I found myself thinking about it at odd moments. The director included a link to a site featuring actresses over 60, presumably so those under 60 will know how to age themselves. It's no surprise that a lot of these actresses got better looking with age. It's a little hard to imagine these actresses as aged prostitutes whose beaus have all died off.

It's also hard to imagine 1920's clothing as sexy. Yes, I know the term "cocktail dress" came into being in the 20's. But  the women were covered from ankle to neck in mostly straight swaths of fabric. Shapelessness was in vogue. How is that sexy? Beaded tulle over satin was lovely, but it tends drip beads and silk shatters and rots, so there isn't a whole lot left and what there is would not be suitable for heavy use. Before I read the play but after looking at images of one of the productions, I thought perhaps that 30's clothing would do, and this provided a theme for recreational shopping at thrift stores. I've ended up with brighter summer clothing than usual.

I've discovered that not all shoes with high heels are instant pain, but also that no one my size gets rid of  wearable high heels. (What? You thought I'd dash out and buy a pair of spikes from an actual shoe store? My recreational shopping destination is secondhand stores.)  I do not need a pair of spikes to take up space in my closet. Carmen Miranda wedgies, maybe, but not spikes.

It's the music that grabs me. More than once it's been midnight before I shut down the computer, because wandering through the videos of vintage songs I lose all track of time. I listen to 6 or 7 versions of a song, take side trips to lyrics sites, sing along with the videos. Richland Woman by Maria Muldaur on You-tube is nowhere near as sultry as the versions she sang in clubs in the 70s.  And in a much lower key.

The music propelled me into the basement to look through available fabric and patterns. Fortunately, I wore a pair of high heeled shoes to do it, and came to my senses in half an hour. I am NOT going to cut and sew a dress, torture my toes and my hair just to sing 16 bars of a song and go home. There are limits. And yet...the music swings, bounces and teases.