Monthly Archives: December 2011

Stage Fright…And All That Jazz!


I didn’t understand the concept of stage fright until one fateful night in high school. I was lucky enough to have attended high school in Vienna, Austria, the  city of  music.  I was surrounded by the sounds of Mozart in the streets.  The famous Vienna Opera House was home to the world’s most renowned  singers. After his performance there, Placido Domingo liked to hang out at my favorite Italian restaurant.  Free outdoor concerts were sometimes held outside the city’s Rathaus, with people like Zubin Mehta conducting.

The music teachers in school encouraged us to sing arias from great operas and solos from Handel’s Messiah. They introduced us to the world of  musical theater.   I was one of my high school’s biggest theater dorks. Three times a year I’d perform in a play, a musical, and a cabaret. I was always cast in an excellent role.  By the time I became a senior, I considered myself a seasoned veteran of the theater. I had starred in my final play and musical and now it was time for my high school swan song, singing All That Jazz in my last high school cabaret.

All That Jazz was the perfect song for my voice. I always sang soprano in choir and in shows, but I had recently discovered that I could also rock a deep, soulful alto with a powerful belt. This song was the perfect song to say goodbye to high school and hello to my future as a Broadway star.Our Cabaret had a western theme, and my version ofAll That Jazz was performed as a smoldering saloon girl. I perched on the piano and slammed out each verse like a pro, with the audience smiling, cheering, clapping. I was really into it as we  approached the big finale…”And Allllllll…piano, piano…Thaaaaaaat…piano, piano…Jaaaa…croak! My voice stopped! It just dropped out mid Jazz! I struck a dramatic pose, with a beet-red face, and waited for the pianist to end my torture.

It was then, at that very moment, that my life changed. My blind confidence was immediately struck down, and to this day I have  a fear of public singing. A terror that my powerful voice will crack whenever it chooses. Not that I stopped singing after that. I continued on a path that led me to sing in a band, an a cappella group, and in shows for many years. But that fear has never completely disappeared, despite the thicker skin that I eventually developed.

Just another humbling moment in the life of a failed actress…and all that jazz.