What’s the difference between “legit” and “belted” voices? How can you make the tedious task of vocal warm-ups fun? What’s your favorite song in Gentleman’s Guide? And why should people come to see the show?
Vocal Director Anita Carey answers these questions and more in the latest interview in our continuing series examining “The Art of Theatre.” Watch the six-minute video below, or read the transcript.
What’s the difference between a Vocal Director and a Music Director?
My name is Anita Carey, and I am the vocal director of A Gentleman’s Guide To Love & Murder. The person who teaches the singers how to sing the consonants, what the harmonies are, who sings on what part, that’s the vocal director’s job, and that’s what I do. It is the thing that I like the most.
How do you like to direct?
There are all sorts of theories on how to place the choir, but I place them according to the old-style equalizers on your stereo. The highest, the second highest, the third, and then the lowest. And that’s how I do that.
What is your favorite vocal warm-up?
This is my favorite warm up, because it’s funny and it gets people into the mood for singing. It’s called “Bounty.” (singing) Bounty, Bounty, Bounty is the quicker picker upper. Bounty, Bounty, Bounty is the quicker picker upper. So, I like this one because when you say, “quicker picker upper” you are exercising the mouth muscles without just saying, “Everybody, exercise the muscles.” So, that is one of my favorites. And the other one I like is the slide. As you do warm-ups, you want to do both notes, and you also want to slide to get your throat ready to do mixing between the registers. So… I’m going to do this low… (singing) Zing Ba-a-a-a-a-a-a-ah. Zing Ba-a-a-a-a-a-a-ah. And the nice thing about this as you get to the high parts, then the sopranos are really happy, which I won’t do, but it goes like… (playing piano)
(choir singing) Zing Ba-a-a-a-a-a-a-ah. Zing Ba-a-a-a-a-a-a-ah. Zing Ba-a-a-a-a-a-a-ah.
(singing) Why are all the D’Ysquiths dying? What grisly sort of plague is going ‘round?
Is this show challenging?
There are some parts in the show that really require proper vocal technique. One of the leads, she has to sing the high E flat. And that’s really, really high. But she has to hit it not shrill, and not, like, pop in there. And so, so—like calling it in—she has to really be able to land there and then come down gracefully, like a stream. And so that kind of stuff is hard to do. There is also a lot of really precise harmonies, so that’s another thing that’s challenging.
What’s your favorite song?
My favorite song is the prologue. And it’s because it’s very difficult. I have found that songs that tend to be—the ones that I have to put in the most prep work for—somehow become the ones that I like the most. And this prologue that we picked has a fugue in it, which means multiple voices are coming in on top of each other and layering, so it sounds like it’s cacophonous, and yet it sounds very pleasant, and full, and vibrant.
What is a “legit” voice?
The “legit” voice is more classically trained, and it is used in opera or operetta where there seem to be a lot more classically written notes. The “belted” voice is what you think more of as Broadway nowadays. In Wicked, for example, there is a lot of belt. Both require a lot of training. Both require a lot of time and a lot of years. They just sound very different. And in this show, we are using the legit, or more classical sound.
How important is the ensemble?
There is no show without the ensemble. They are the wise commentators. They are also the extra travelers when we need them. They really make the show.
Any tips for novice singers?
Singing is a natural part of what we do. And everybody can sing. Having said that, you need to get used to recording and listening to your own voice. To really improve, you can’t just sit back and say, “Oh, I don’t like the sound of my voice,” because the voice sounds different to you than to other people, and you need to know how it sounds to be able to make the sounds that you want.
Why should people come to see this show?
You should come see this show because it’s a new story. It’s new music. It’s vibrant and lively, and we have an amazing cast, and you will really enjoy this evening of storytelling. I find that even though I know it, when I sit there and watch a run through, I’m still laughing. And what I hope that people leave and they say, “Oh—that was really funny.” And “Oh my gosh, the singing was so good!” That’s what I hope they take away.
(Phoebe singing) I’ve decided to marry you!
I’ve decided to marry you!
I’ve decided though Henry’s gone
That life goes on for me!
I have thoroughly thought it through,
And the man that I want is you,
Though it’s true there are
Quite a few who’d strongly disagree!