|Written by Caroline Wilson|
|Wednesday, 26 January 2011 12:33|
Experienced and aspiring musical theatre singers have a once in a lifetime opportunity to attend a masterclass in Melbourne with legendary voice teacher, Adrienne Angel.
Adrienne's past and present students read like a who’s who of stage and screen and include: Bernadette Peters (since 1983), Cher, Ann Reinking, Mary Tyler Moore, Christine Baranski, Kenneth Branagh, Armand Assante, Whoopi Goldberg, Jane Krakowski, Cybill Shepherd, Jason Alexander, Joel Gray, Swoosie Kurtz, Joan Jett, Sheena Easton, Bridget Fonda, Mariel Hemingway, and Jessica Walter.
New York’s first lady of Broadway, Bernadette Peters says, “I really have to give applause to my singing teacher Adrienne Angel. When I started studying with her, she really put me on the right track. She gave me the greatest gift, and that was the ability to be able to use my instrument. She gave me the ability to sing a large score, with a large range.”
Adrienne Angel spoke to Australian Stage's Caroline Wilson.
How long have you been a voice teacher?
For over thirty years
What made you decide to become a vocal coach?
I never made such a decision. I was in the midst of an active performing career and suddenly my voice teacher informed me that he was moving from New York City to Los Angeles and that I was to take over the teaching of his students. It was not a request! Suddenly I was also teaching a studio full of musical theatre performers. At that time I was overwhelmed, but gradually I realized that I actually had a gift for it, and that it was extremely gratifying to see my students improve. Eventually, my teaching just took over my life.
Is there a particular show that you could call your favorite?
If you mean a show that I have performed a role in I would say ‘Showboat’, because the role of Julie is so marvelous. If you mean a show that I just enjoy, Sondheim’s ‘A Little Night Music’ and also ‘Sunday in the Park with George’ are absolutely my favorites. I worked with Bernadette Peters on both, and the music in both is just glorious.
What are some of the bad habits that you’ve seen singers develop that you’ve had a hard time dealing with?
The worst is poor posture. This is particularly true of female students. The second is trying to prevent singers from yelling in their chest voice as high as they can go.
What would you say to someone who wants to get into musical theatre?
DON’T DO IT!!! That is, don’t do it unless you accept the fact that you will never have a life of security. You will have a life of extreme elation and extreme disappointments. That you will have a bottomless pit of expenses for studying acting, dance, voice, publicity pictures and resumes etc. Don’t do it unless the thought of not performing makes your life unimaginable.
I’d like to add that I have never talked anyone out of being a performer.
Have you ever encountered someone who had absolutely no talent? And did you have to break it to them?
Everyone has a talent for something, though it may not be as a performer. When I asked my teacher what I should do if I had to work with someone who had no talent, he said, “Adrienne, who are you to decide if someone is talented or not?” It was very humbling.
I am happy to teach beginners, but the one thing I expect is that they have the ability to sing in tune. If they can’t do that I will not take them on. However, I send them to teachers who say they have had success in teaching pitch-challenged students. Generally, I find that once a student sees how much work, time and expense is involved in learning to be a good singer, the lesser talented ones drop out. So the short answer is I have never told anyone he or she has no talent, no matter what my private opinion is.
Has anyone you’ve taught gone on to do something widely seen?
Bernadette was already well known when she came to me, but her singing totally changed after we started working together, and her vocal repertoire enlarged.
What has been one of the most memorable moments in your career?
It’s silly but the first time I got a round of applause on my exit from a scene was one of the most satisfying moments of my career. It meant to me that I was learning my craft.
Do you have any plans whilst visiting Australia?
Right now I am totally focused on doing a great job in my masterclass series. I am so excited about that. I have wanted to come to Australia for years and this is a dream come true. I’ve been told that Melbourne is fabulous and I hope I’ll have time to become somewhat acquainted with its charms.
Adrienne Angel 5 Day Intensive Masterclass runs Monday 28 March – Friday 1 April, 2011 at the Arts Centre, Melbourne.
A maximum of 20 professional artists will be selected via application.