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If you follow me on Facebook (and if not, why not?) you know I will be performing the next two weekends in the musical revue “TomFoolery” at Olympic Theatre Arts in Sequim. TomFoolery is a tribute to Harvard math professor Tom Lehrer, who was very popular as a performer years ago, especially in the 1950s and 1960s. His dry humor and knack for political satire resulted in songs such as “The Masochism Tango,” “Wernher von Braun,” and “Poisoning Pigeons in the Park.” He even pokes fun at his own career as a mathematician and scientist in “New Math” and “The Elements.”

 

This is definitely a stretch for me, having always considered myself much more of a behind-the-scenes kind of person. On the other hand, lately I seem to be in a phase of gravitating to things that push me out of my comfort zone, and this is certainly one of those challenges. She understated.

 

The one thing I had going for me coming into this new experience was my familiarity with Tom Lehrer’s music. My father was a big fan of Lehrer’s, and had several of his earlier recordings, which we listened to as we were growing up. I remember laughing hysterically to “Masochism Tango” long before I had any idea of what it meant. Back in February, when I happened to be on the Olympic Theatre Arts website, I saw that this show was coming up and had a wild idea about auditioning for it.

 

I have no clue why, but I decided right then that if I summoned up the guts to audition, I would sing “The Elements,” a fairly frantically-paced list of 102 chemical elements, set to the tune of a Gilbert & Sullivan patter song. My husband David (who obviously knows how to push some of my buttons) challenged me by claiming it was impossible to memorize such a song. His theory is that memorizing any song without anything repeated in it simply can’t be done. (Actually I had already disproved this theory when I memorized the wonderful song Waters of March.) I said, “Bet you $5 and a ham sandwich that Tom Lehrer memorized it; no way was he reading off a script while performing at that pace.”

 

So for the next 6 weeks or so, I worked on The Elements, and finally got to a point of being fairly comfortable with it (I’m not kidding) just a few days before the first audition in late March. We all sang our audition songs a capella, and I did in fact sing The Elements. I came back for a second audition a few days later, singing “We will all go together when we go” that time. I thought I did better at that audition but I was still totally taken by surprise a couple of days later when the director, Anna Andersen, notified me that I was going to be in the cast.

 

I am lucky enough to be part of an ensemble of seven, of which I am the one true novice. It’s been a bit intimidating being a beginner in a room full of professionals (she understated again), but I have learned a lot and certainly feel a lot more comfortable now. Having had quite a bit of public speaking experience over the last 5 years, I am used to being up in front of crowds of people. But believe me, this is WAY different. First of all, I am singing, not just talking on a subject I know well and taking questions. In addition, most of the songs (including my solo, The Elements) involve walking off the stage and on the floor in and among the audience. It is a very intimate setting, to my mind very conducive to this type of show.

 

The revue has 19 songs, solos and ensemble pieces, which I won’t tell you too much about because I want you to buy tickets and come see the show! It opens this Friday at 7:30 PM; call the box office between 1:00 and 5:00 PM at (360) 683-7326, or stop by to buy tickets. It’s a whole lot of show for only $10; I hope you can come to see it!

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