I don’t know if anyone has noticed the titles of my recent blog posts, but I’ve had musicals on the mind. Specifically, My Fair Lady. In the midst of my quarter/third life crisis of 2014, I got a part in the chorus of this massive BLOC (Brussels Light Opera Company) venture, along with over 80 other cast members and countless others working behind the scenes, from orchestra, sound and lighting to makeup, hair and props. There were moments when it seemed that the show was going in about ten different directions at once, but it came together eventually this past weekend in the Auderghem Cultural Centre. We performed in five shows over four days and, speaking as “2nd apple seller from the right” in the Covent Garden scenes and “Nameless Cockney” attending Ascot, it was exhausting, exhilarating and emotional. I barely slept last night after coming home from the last performance, so I can’t even imagine how the lead cast are going to make it through the next few days.
Lying in bed this morning at 6h30, I considered going for a run to tire myself out, but decided to give sleep one more chance, with the aid of an article about Angela Merkel from The New Yorker. It was undoubtedly a good piece of writing, but in my state, it had the welcome effect of sending me off to sleep before I got past her childhood “on the outskirts of Templin, a cobblestoned town in the pine forests of Brandenburg, north of Berlin”.
After many days and weeks of having my brain and vocal chords beaten up by the My Fair Lady songbook, strangely another song will remind me of this experience. A constant entry on my ever-changing list of Desert Island Discs is Louis Armstrong’s What a Wonderful World. By chance, this was one of the songs chosen during our warm-up on the opening night of the show. It has a place on my list to remind me of a moment with a boy, who was a friend, then more than a friend, then less than a friend. I don’t dwell on the aftermath of that memory, just on the feeling of anticipation. Its connection to My Fair Lady is now equally anticipatory, although with much more satisfying and hopefully long-lasting consequences.