A cliche entry on almost every person’s list to accomplish and experience. I admit. I, myself, contribute to the census of people drawn in to the world of travelling. Obviously this blog site wouldn’t be alive if I am not. Travelling is just one of so many things I want to do while I am alive. I got a mile-long list of things I want to do. But to experience and prove my other capabilities has always been my longing. I would also want to show my other talents on whatever scale as well.
Music and Performing Arts.
I am not sure if it is known by many, but I have this big chunk in my soul solely dedicated to this aspect of art. Music has been in my entirety as a human being. It is embedded to every action and decisions I make. Even in travelling, my soul stitches music to every destinations I go. As I quote from my introduction page: https://wanderingfeetph.com/author/
I travel because it gives me a unique feeling of high and certain ecstasy. Something different but somehow familiar sensation with what I love to do. Traveling for me somehow becomes music made visible. Every road and route has its own tune. Every step stitches the melody. Every destination becomes the stage where the scenery becomes the back draft and the culture becomes the theme. A stage where my thoughts become free like the wind as they dance through the horizon until my eyes are filled with the glitters of the stars.
If you have been following my social media accounts in Instagram or Facebook, you might have witnessed me singing or doing whatever crazy stuff on my stories when I have nothing to do. These channels were my only outlets. But I know I wanted more. I wanted a bigger stage. A real tangible and authentic one. I know the feeling will be a lot different and I want to experience that. But sadly, I was blindly tapping on a dark room. I have no idea when, where, and how I can finally let go my soul and set it free to the strings of melodies.
Stage and Musicals.
The first time I was introduced to a musical was when I was in highschool. We get to do our own version and production of Jesus Christ Superstar. Being on stage and perform in front of the crowd kindled my passion towards musical plays. It was the best part and the highlight of my teenage days, I must admit. Since then, the hang of it hasn’t left me even until I graduated college. In the world of pop culture, listening to the tracks and watching recorded videos of musical plays were my dirty little secrets. I am clueless if anybody can relate since almost everything on mainstream media are pop. I like pop music and mainstream contents, but the weight and substance of musical play contents are way beyond what pop can render. Thus explains why I rarely stick on pop music on my playlists.
Years passed when all I can do is to sing at karaoke bars and only during family gatherings. Yet deep within me, I was still in search for a fitting platform. I get excited when big international musical plays have shows in my country, but only to get disheartened that they only have it in Manila, which is miles away from my home town. Musical shows are rare finds in my home town, Cebu. That is why I make sure I get to see one when I am given the chance to.
One step towards the door.
Fast forward early 2018. It was around February I guess, while I was still waiting for my IT job offer, I saw an online advertisement for a musical play audition. I suddenly had a jolting feeling in my core but I did not took it too seriously. I told myself it was not for me since it requires the whole months of October and November to be free for the actual show. Well, I am not sure if my upcoming employer would allow me to do that. I was in a state of unease and hesitancy. Part of me was saying “Go for it!”. The other half chained me to the ground while injecting thoughts in my head, “What about your income job?”. I didn’t know exactly if I was just chickening-out or what, but I was certain of what can make me feel happy. I know I want to grab this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
It took me tons of courage and countless debates inside my head before I set forth on a journey of which I am uncertain yet of what could and will be. I finally came to my decision. I toughened my chest and stabilized my shivering feet. Wrote my name on the list of auditionees while clearing-up the clouds in my head. Looking at the list, there were at least thrice the number of names than I expected. Heading to the hall, I saw my fellow auditionees. Some of them already knew each other. I can tell that some are already well equipped and experienced in terms of performing. Watching them stretch their flexible bodies and warming-up their vocals made me question myself. Why am I here? What made me think that I am for this? I mean, I don’t have a body as flexible as theirs and I don’t even have a legit experience in singing in front of a crowd.
Watching them and comparing myself, clouded my thoughts and it was so discouraging. So I wore my cap to avoid getting distracted, stayed at a corner, and put on my earphones and listened to my favorite playlist. Listening to music somehow calmed me. But every time a name was called into the audition room, my heart wanted to get-out of my chest and start sprinting away. The pounding of my chest got louder and louder as names were called one by one. Then by the moment my name was called, I thought my chest exploded. I can feel like my soul being sucked away. This is what I wanted, so I have to compose the shit out of me to get the shot.
The room where it started.
We got inside the room by batches. It was still the dancing part of the audition. By that time, I was thankful that I got to remember some of the dance basics taught when I was still in high school. Kick, jump, turn, and roll! The funny part was, I was wearing a rugged jaens while the others were on stretchy tight leggings. That’s what you get when you are unprepared for an audition. It was horrible and uncomfortable experience.
Second half of the audition was the singing part. This was when I got tensed the most. Hearing the leaking sounds from the audition room, the songs and the voices of the auditionees, makes me want to go home and quit. But no! There’s no turning back now. So I kept myself busy by trying to remember my audition song lyrics and tune. Picturing myself at the audition room and getting rejected made me think, if I get rejected, at least I get to experience how it feels like to go to an audition. By that time, I made it clear to myself not to expect anything.
I was caught in the middle of inner conversation with myself that I forgot to practice my audition piece. Then my name was called. Boom! I felt like my eyes rolling back and my brain passing-out. A barrage of beats came out from my chest. My throat was dry as the desert since the dance audition and I didn’t even have water with me. I cleared my throat and swallowed my spit just to lubricate my throat even a little. Gross. Yes. But I have no choice. As I was approaching the room, I let out a loud stomp on the ground and composed myself while silently chanting my game-on cheer repeatedly. “Let’s do this shit!”
At the room were the unfamiliar faces. As I went inside and positioned myself at the center, I nearly forgot what I was about to sing. I slapped my cheek and then started talking to give my self-introduction. Then it was time for me to sing. I sang “Santa Fe” from the musical “Newsies”. I brought no minus one recording since the song is not too famous yet. Then one from the panel knew the song and went to the piano to accompany me. As the song progressed, the lyrics of the song rooted inside of me as it says…
“Santa Fe, my old friend. I can’t spend my whole life dreaming, though I know that’s all I seemed inclined to do. I ain’t getting any younger and I wanna start brand new…”
That was the first time I genuinely felt good after a performance. That moment alone, I felt happy and contented. I wasn’t expecting anything anymore. I already was thankful for everything that was stitching together to get me to that one night.
The waiting game.
After the audition, the crew advised us that they will just contact the successful auditionees once the deliberation is done. I never told any of my friends about the audition except to a selected few, because I know most of them can’t relate or even get a little chance of interest. So there I was, getting on with my usual daily routine. I accepted and signed the IT job offer and went on with my daily nine-to-six cycle.
Days passed, and I got accustomed to the four walls within my work office. Then a message popped from my inbox. I got in! Blood-rush suddenly kicked-in. I was in a state of disbelief. An array of questions ran through my head. Too many what-ifs, hundreds of how, and dozens of why. As I went home that day, I couldn’t fix my head. I was floating in awe while being grounded by my situational anxieties.
It took me days to finally give my response for the invitation. As an adult, we are served with too many responsibilities on our plate, sometimes even too much than we can handle. It was crucial for me to ponder and come-up with a decision that could benefit me and my future self. Several exchange of messages and queries with the production staff and finally I made a decision to join the production. But first, I need to settle an arrangement with my current employer. It took all of my guts to ask for a special schedule for my shift to make way for the rehearsals. Thankfully my employer agreed with the arrangement. On the other hand, they cannot allow me for two straight months of leave for the actual run of the show. I was caught in a forked path once again. I have to decide whether to miss this rare opportunity or to give-up the main source of my bread and butter. It was with a heavy heart that I have to choose the latter. I realized that not everybody has the chance to be presented with this rare opportunity.
Struggles, Learnings, and Acceptance.
Rehearsals kicked-off and it meant serious business. Every tick of the clock were as precious as gold, especially for myself. The production was made up of mostly recurring casts and crew. They already knew each other and have been doing this business for several years. I need to revive my remaining artistic skills. I need to go back to basics and catch up especially now that the new production is taking a new approach. Everything was new to me.
Day after day, the whole production team exerted efforts and giving only the very best in building the whole musical which was set to give a different attack from the previous productions. From floor spotting, to acting, singing, and dancing. Bruises, blisters, injuries, and body aches were inevitable. But those were nothing knowing that every drop of our sweat and tears will eventually become the pillar ground in molding the whole show.
It is not the destination, but the journey.
It was during our intensive rehearsal period when I learned and gained so much experience. Being away from home for months was hard, but it fortified my self-reliance and independence. The constructive criticisms, cracked the unecessary habits and built better ones. It was then I realized that my self discipline was trailing behind.
We were not only exposed to the theater grounds but also immersed into the essence behind the story of the play, Buddhism.
The entirety of the experience was dismantling, yet, nurturing. Dismantling in a sense that I became more lighter by simply letting go. Letting go of fear, anger, grudge, and all the negativities. At the same time, it helped me nurture my self-awareness and opened my mind to all possibilities.
I cannot enumerate the hundreds of things I learned during our immersion, but one thing is for sure, it was a holistically transformative one.
The send-off show.
After months of preparation, we finally reached the performance day. The venue?
No less than The Theater at Solaire. I can’t believe I was able to step-up on a grand stage and perform for 2 consecutive days. It was exciting and nerve-wracking. The whole preparation was a storm.
We arrived at the hall early to set-up the stage, lights, sounds, props, costumes, and have our blocking and rehearsals.
Few hours before the curtain call, we had our last stretch of blockings and rehearsals. Of course, vocal warm-ups should always be on the priority list. Tick-tock and everybody suddenly got busy at their respective dressing rooms. We have no make-up artists and no hair dressers. Everything has to be on our own. The other casts have their own make-up kits and they all look so professional in painting their faces with different shades and palettes. Me? I would consider putting a face powder on my face was the only make-up experience I had. Thankfully everyone was up on helping each other.
It was my first time seeing myself in full make-up. It was like seeing another person right in front of the mirror.
Showtime and all the cast and crew were frantically hyped. The light suddenly turned dramatic and the orchestra started spewing the first notes. The actors put on the show face and instantly the stage transformed to a new world. There’s no turning back as the curtain opened.
During the show, the backstage and dressing rooms were on another level of chaos. Sequence after sequence, everybody was sprinting back and forth to change costume and gather props for the next scene. At the end, the show was a success. First show, checked! But my journey did not end there. We still have plenty of shows to do and the most exciting part has yet to arrive. Did I mention that those were just the send-off shows?
They say every performance on the same stage grants different set of experience to the performer, which I believe is true. After performing more than one show at the same theater, it felt like still doing the show for the first time. The same level of thrill, anxiety, and excitement but each on a unique spectrum. Then I wondered what would it feel like performing on another stage, another environment, another place, and another country? Well, my questions were about to be answered because in few days, we will be flying to, none other than, the United States of America. First stop, New York City!
Before we flew to New York, we were treated with another set of tour together with our loved ones.