17 August, 2007

Recording Fiddler

Islington, North London.
Brilliant Studio.
Monday morning. 11 am.
My first cast recording. Pretty thrilling.

Began with Tradition at 11, Henry in the booth, the rest of us outside with the band, singing into four strategically placed microphones. Hardly anyone was awake at the very un-theatrical hour of 11 am, but the excitement and pride soon gave us the necessary boost. After about three-ish takes with a few stops and starts, we all (including the band!) piled in to the sound booth to have a listen, and it was remarkable. What a powerful vocal company we have, and what a brilliant band! The arrangements came to life, the sense of pride and celebration rang from the speakers!

Observing everyone's faces... such a quiet pride, a swelling of the inner oceans, were evident in everyone's eyes. It is a beautiful piece of theatre, a glorious triumph, and we could hear it. My inner ocean swells recalling it.

We returned to the studio to record The Dream and Sabbath Prayer, and the women were released for an early lunch while the men recorded L'Chaim. After lunch we returned to tackle Sunrise, Sunset, and it was soon time to head off to the theatre. What an exhausting and exhilarating day!

* * *
Tuesday morning.
Bright and early.
10 am, in to record the solos. Yikes! (I'm not exactly a prima donna but that is one early hour to record for posterity...)

First Now I Have Everything which Damian licked in two takes. (He really, quite seriously, got it in one take, but they did a second for good measure). Amazing.

Frances and Natasha then arrived for Matchmaker which took a bit of time to adapt for a "radio" audience. We had to play around with the dialogue, the reactions and laughter, tone down the Yiddish accents slightly. It was fairly complicated, but we found it. Incredible the difference having to act for the microphone creates. I suppose the big lesson here is that one cannot act directly with the other actors in the room, the performance rings untrue, sounds too large and falsely theatrical. One has to act with the microphone itself, communicate with it as you would the people you are speaking to, whilst also viewing the microphone as the ear of the listener. It takes practice, especially with the dialogue.

I have to say it. Recording Far From the Home I Love was one of the most harrowing experiences of my professional life. As a perfectionist, I have been plagued for weeks by the idea of "eternity," and picturing students, professionals, and critics in years to come playing this recording on some history of musical theatre radio program; comparing it to the Original Cast Recording, to the Revival Cast Recording, to the Japanese Recording, etc. I had a vision of a younger version of myself sitting on a bunk bed at Interlochen listening to it and dissecting it, forming opinions-- just like I did with the likes of Audra McDonald and Barbara Cook.

It has been pretty intense inside the head of Al Silber.

So Larry Blank (our amazing arranger, and also director of the recording), sensing stress, took me aside before we began, and told me to just do it. "Just do what you do..."

... And so it was done.
Without too much stress.
And I wasn't unhappy with it, though it will never be THAT performance... you know the one... the perfect one inside your head...? That's the one.

Henry embraced me afterwards (in his usual full bear hug...a little misty may I add), and whispered, "you break me every time, girl...Well done." From him, from the man who "topples Topol", and from one perfectionist to another, this moment floored me. I don't know how else to articulate it.

So here it is.
The 2007 Cast Recording of Fiddler on the Roof.
On sale at Dress Circle and from the theatre.
Have a Listen And do let me know what you think.


  1. I just heard "Far from the Home," "Matchmaker," and "Now i have everything" today and...

    ... brava, darling... i literally *cannot* wait to see this on stage, the recording is brilliant.

    Hearing it i would have sworn you guys were here next to me and i seriously almost lost it... i can't wait till december!

    love & hugs

  2. Hi Alexandra!
    The clip of you singing "Far from the home I love" is
    so beautifully sung! The best rendition I have heard.
    Do you know whether the 2007 cast recording will be
    available to purchase on amazon or barnes and noble?
    And slightly off topic thank you for such a touching
    performance in The Woman in White back in 2006!

  3. I can not believe I never listened to this before. I knew you played Hodel in the West End but never thought to find the music. After reading this and trying to catch up with all your blog post, I found the music and listened from start to finish. All I can say is amazing!



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