Welcome to McElrath Cabaret–We hope you enjoy our cabaret blog!
Good evening! I hope your day was marvelous and filled with song!
Today’s tip is something I’ve thought a bit about, and it’s this:
Love yourself when you get to entertain.
That may seem an odd statement, but let me try to explain what I mean. In the process of honing our craft of singing and acting, of doing the legwork of getting our shows booked, of putting together the look of our shows, we spend a great deal of time trying to improve the parts that appear to be weak to us. And this is a good thing–we want to get better at what we do, and work out all the kinks in advance of getting up and sharing our show and ourselves with a live audience. You may have a music director and a stage director to help fashion the look of your show, and you are probably working on it yourself as well.
It’s a director or mentor’s job to be critical in a good, constructive way concerning what we do in cabaret. It’s just that we can take it a little too far when we get super critical of ourselves. It’s easy to do–we all want to make strides in our growth as an entertainer, but sometimes there are other things that we just pick away at ourselves about. It might be that you feel like you look too fat in your clothing–I know I feel that way often. If I focus on that, though, it makes me feel insecure when I actually get up to sing. This really happens to me when I see a video of our shows–of course, I forget that the camera adds 10 pounds, so I actually look better in real life. It’s easy to focus on the negative, isn’t it?
What I can do, and do my best to do, is to do what I can to look as fabulous as I can. That means I put thought into the clothing I wear in advance of the show, so I know it’s flattering and I look great. I work out regularly and eat and drink properly so I am feeling healthy. I simply do this in order to respect myself and what I am working toward–I basically do it to love myself. Once I’ve done what I can, I have to leave it there and it’s over with. Then, when I take the stage, I don’t feel a need to worry about my appearance, because all that is taken care of. I can simply focus on telling the story in the song so that the audience feels it. I am always enough to do this–that is the message we each need to send to ourselves every day in this crazy world of mixed messages and trying to be an entertainer in it.
I also tend to worry about my voice. It’s easy to get into those self-hating discussions: ”I can’t hit that note–my voice feels terrible today and sounds worse–I don’t sound as good as ____________”, etc., etc.
It’s true–I have a good voice, but I may not have the greatest singing voice in the world. But guess what–you don’t have to in order to be a fabulous cabaret entertainer. I can take steps to work with what I have. I can read books on singing and study with a good vocal instructor. I can practice good vocal health and take care of my throat and vocal cords. I can work on singing intervals to get them into my muscle memory and my ear. I can make sure my songs are in a good key for me and I practice them a lot to get them completely in my mind and body. At the end of the day, we are all on our own paths in terms of our growth as entertainers, and my path may be different from someone else’s, and I can’t really compare myself to anyone else because of this, and neither can you.
Another thing I do is not invite any negative people to our show. We all have them it seems in our lives–people who just, for whatever reasons, don’t believe in what we’re trying to do. I do my best to surround myself with people who are encouraging–it’s just way easier to get up on stage without the psychological baggage that comes from trying to give a good show to a few individuals who just don’t appreciate it. If such a person does happen to be in the audience, simply thank them for attending, and move on. Do not listen to their negativity if they try to share it with you. Post-show should be a happy and joyous time for you–don’t let anyone take that joy away!
The happiest times in my life have been when I got to entertain an audience. I feel the most alive and the happiest then, and you realize it’s fine to love yourself, because you are special and nobody else could offer up your entertainment in exactly the way that you are right now–only you! And that is a good place from which to be sharing your gifts as an entertainer.
Here is a short little video from Jack Plotnick, a wonderful actor that you’ve likely seen in several television shows. He also offers a great class on dealing with acting, and how we feel about ourselves when we are on stage and auditioning. I found it to be rather helpful, so I want to share it with you.
If you liked this, you can learn more at Jack Plotnick’s website.
Hope these Tuesday cabaret tips help–let us know what other topics you’d like to see us cover here, and we’ll do our best to work through them!
As a cabaret singer, what would you add to this conversation? Leave us a note about it in the comments below—we always love to hear from our readers!
We appreciate your support!
Till next time,
Weekly Post Lineup At McElrath Cabaret:
Tuesdays: Cabaret Tip Tuesday
Wednesdays: Ask A Cabaret Question
Fridays: Cabaret Through Time