My cast was interviewed by the local paper last week, and I was surprised to find myself answering the question, "What are some of your favorite roles?" by describing with great enthusiasm my previous role, a role which at best could be called secondary (and at worst - and in a different kind of production- a complete throwaway). But, to my surprise, this small supporting role which before we started rehearsals I had expected be a "paycheck" gig (and little more) turned out to be a genuine inspiration artistically and, in some ways, a personal turning point.
Since this show was uniformly good with excellent singers and an easy camraderie among the entire team it seems almost unfair to single anybody out, but one of my colleagues in particular demonstrated how important it is to go beyond "good enough"; to say it was a powerful reminder of just how important it can be is an understatement.
This is a singer who plays leading roles just as often as not and, while this smaller "featured" part offered much less scope for vocalism than those leads, the performance - despite the limitations of the role itself - was riveting (consistently singled out in all the reviews and recognised by the audience with a deserved applause surge at every curtain call). Every gesture, every sound was delivered with the same gravitas and energy as if it had been a title role and I was fascinated to see this singer bring it on ALL the time: onstage, offstage, in rehearsal, in performance, and always with humility, humour and dignity. It was definitely not about "how much there is to sing" but about "how to perform what there is with commitment"... and the considerable strength brought to the role (and the strength added to the production overall) was more than inspiring.
I'm proud and honoured to have shared the stage with the kind of performer who not only motivated me to raise the bar, but will also be forever grateful to have been reminded how very important it is to play to one's full strength without apology or censoring (tacit or otherwise), and in a very real way to have seen this demonstrated throughout:
TRUE star quality is not only having that kind of presence and command of the stage, but "bringing it to the party" all the time.
No hanging back and waiting until something or somebody else has triggered our imagination and excitement. Not waiting for "permission"to go above and beyond (or, for that matter, validation from [director/maestro/colleagues/teacher/spouse/friends/audience response/insert person of choice]), but instead sustaining a commitment to dramatic and musical intention from within. All the time.
I suspect if the singer in question sees this the response will be, "But ... I just did what I always do!". Which is actually kind of the point: that attitude as a matter of course is the difference between "good enough" and true excellence, and no role is too small to benefit from that.
Bring it on.