As part of my 3rd Act journey, I’ve created an “ideal schedule” for each day of the week. It’s color-coded a light green so my actual appointments and activities can sit on top. Not every minute is accounted for, but the blocks of time serve as a reminder for me to consciously choose how I spend my time. Saturday afternoons are designated “writing time.” Thursday afternoons are “creative exploration.” Sunday has time designated for “friends & fun.” So, when the opportunity of a Sound of Music sing-along was proposed by a dear friend who had this experience on her bucket list, it fit at least three of my ideal schedule slots!
Now, the last time I attended a public sing-along (other than every Irish pub I’ve ever frequented) was in college. It was a midnight showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show and truthfully, all I can remember is throwing toast in the air. I’ll let you fill in the blanks but suffice it to say, those were the days. This new invitation to potentially embarrass myself with a theater full of strangers was tempting, although in a tamer, G-rated way.
This movie also held great nostalgia for me. I was nine when it premiered in 1965 and I’ll never forget how incredibly grown up I felt attending an evening movie with my dad. As the lights dimmed, the red velvet curtain parted, the camera moved over the Alps, the music soared and I was transported to Austria in the 1930s. Decades later, I now had the opportunity to see this wonderful movie on the large screen AND sing along to all the songs. Of course, I said yes!
As we entered the theater, we were given goodie bags. I was delighted! When was the last time I got a goodie bag?! Our talented emcee guided us through the timing and use of each item in the bag. Cue cards were to help answer the eternal question of how you solve a problem like Maria. Waving curtain material encouraged Maria to miraculously create play clothes overnight after singing My Favorite Things. An invitation to the Captain’s Ball recommended hissing at the baroness – the glamorously evil Eleanor Parker in to-die-for dresses. We were also given instruction in a variety of gestures to accompany other songs – gestures we diligently practiced with great enthusiasm, if not great skill. Primed and ready, we sat with anticipation as the lights dimmed, the music swelled and we made the hills of Austria come alive with our singing!
So, what did I learn from this new experience?
First, my vocal range is more in line with Christopher Plummer than Julie Andrews, which didn’t deter me in the least. I channeled Maria’s confidence as I attempted to hit those high notes with gusto and conviction. I was better at yodeling with the goatherds than singing The Morning Hymn in Latin with the choir of nuns. Seriously, whoever put this together expected a theater full of people to sing in Latin? They must have been rolling around laughing at the thought because we were certainly laughing at ourselves.
Second, my eye-hand coordination, or lack thereof, made me laugh out loud. The hand gestures they taught us to accompany Do-Re-Mi were doable until we got to the part where they mixed them up. So-La-Fa-Ti-Mi-Do-Re was just a challenge too far for my small motor coordination and had me gesturing like a mime on meth.
I learned I’m really good at waving a sprig of fake edelweiss in time to the music, while welling up with tears at the tenderness of Captain von Trapp melting into a loving father. (I also remembered why I had a crush on Christopher Plummer for years!)
Finally, I learned, once again, to say yes to a new experience while in the company of friends who are willing to risk embarrassment for the reward of creating great memories.
What’s next? Instead of singing, I think I’ll try a quote along to Monty Python’s Holy Grail – a great reminder that “I’m not dead yet!”