Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Guest Post: Erika Babins

Kalamatea writer, Erika Babins, talks about her experience with Cinderella at Capilano with Ginger Soup for the Actor's Soul

A long time ago, in a faraway land, lived a beautiful young lady with her evil stepfamily....

Ok, so, it was 3 years ago, the faraway land was Capilano U and it only seemed as though we lived there becayse we spent 12+ hour days in the musical theatre program. But we really were doing Cinderella for our grad production; with lavish costumes, towering sets, and hats so big we had to alter choreography. We also lived through a theatre nightmare I didn’t even know I had.

Ginger Soup for the Actor's Soul remembers Cinderella at Capilano, with Erika Babins
Some serious hats.

One of the most enchanting elements of a musical production is hearing live singers perform with a live orchestra and this show was no exception. We were lucky enough to have 16 live musicians working with us. Unfortunately, because of the aforementioned huge set, they were unable to play in the orchestra pit at the front of the stage. Instead, they were set up in the scene shop backstage with their music feeding through house speakers and stage monitors and our mics feeding back to them.

And that worked just fine, until, the fateful Sunday matinee when Cinderella and her stepfamily (I played one of the stepsisters) were onstage, bouncing to the instrumental vamp before launching into the post-ball quartet. Suddenly the music stopped. Completely cut out in the middle of the beat. There was a moment when the girl playing Cinderella and I locked eyes that I’ll never forget. Pure fear. What were we suppose to do? We didn’t really have a choice. The Show Must Go On, and all that. And so, we started singing acapella. Halfway through the song, the music came back on. We were saved! Oh, no, it’s gone again. It was when it came in and out at least three times in that one song that we realized that the musicians didn’t know they were cutting out.  That meant, we had to stay perfectly in tempo even acapella or the music might come in at a totally different part of the song. At least, we thought, our musical director could still hear us. We could stay on track.

Acapella singing, ununderscored scenes and best of all, a completely silent danced montage of the prince searching with the glass slipper. With the help of the faint pounding of tympanies from the scene shop and the most intense eye contact I’ve ever experienced we made it through the rest of the show. Flinching whenever the sound came back in, hoping we were at the right spot, in the right key, and praying it wouldn’t cut out again. No luck.

It wasn’t until after the show that we found out that not only could we not hear the musicians, but they couldn’t hear us either. Like us, the musical director assumed we could hear and follow them and just played through the show as best they could without hearing our cues!

Despite the years it may have shaved off some of my life, it makes for a great “Hey, remember when this happened?” and truly helps to remind us “you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone.” 


Erika is a lady of many job descriptions. With her diploma in Musical Theatre, she also writes, choreographs, directs and teaches. She is a producer and writer for KalamaTea, an online production company who's first project, The Autobiography of Jane Eyre, has become a cult favourite.
Find her at:
Twitter: @shmerikataylor
Website: http://theautobiographyofja.wix.com/jane-eyre