The writing was on the wall when I found myself lingering in Tesco (a major British supermarket chain) just so that I could sing along to the soundtrack playing in its aisles. I mean, c’mon folks. How often do you get to listen to Men At Work’s Land Down Under and Celine Dion’s My Heart Will Go On in one 10 minute interval?
Then, last Friday night, I found myself squirreled away in a recording studio in the seedy end of Camden Town. About eight of us middle-aged parents decided to forsake shame and concoct a mums and dad’s band to perform at the upcoming school summer fair. We called ourselves The NERMADS, which was short for New End Rock Mums And Dads (Our children attend New End Primary School in London. I personally preferred the moniker “Nermaids” but it didn’t fly…or swim). Some of us played guitar; others the saxophone; most of us sang.
The studio had all the requisite features if you wanted to fancy yourself a rock chick for – oh, about three hours or so: the nearly invisible entrance hidden beneath the railroad tracks…the chipped paint and dark lighting…heck, I half expected someone to be shooting heroin when I walked in. (Only the bathrooms disappointed. As one friend noticed, they were unfailingly clean. Sigh).
And it was a blast. We sang that old favorite Stand By Me, that folk lover’s dream Put a Little Love in Your Heart, as well as assorted rock tunes. (Check out some of us at the actual fair here and here.)
I’ve always loved to sing. I was in a women’s a capella group – The Ursa Minors – back when I was an undergraduate. And I briefly sang with a group at the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago when I first moved there. But that was like 15 years ago and since then, I haven’t really sung with anyone (well, outside of those poor souls haunting the cereal aisle at Tesco).
I’m a big fan of pursuing hobbies in adulthood. I think that – as adults – we sometimes feel that hobbies are for kids: you learn to shoot a bow and arrow. Maybe you take some piano lessons or do an art class here and there. And you have fun. But once you grow up, that’s when the serious stuff kicks in: work, family, LIFE.
But I think that’s a huge mistake. Because there’s something exhilarating about taking up something entirely new – or perhaps returning to an earlier interest – when you’re grown up. Perhaps you even take a class and discovered other like-minded souls. I did this with an acting class last fall.
It’s just…fun. And it keeps you feeling alive.
Which is why I’m incredibly psyched that – right after said performance at the school fair and after running the school raffle for a mere three years – I finally won a raffle prize. And guess what it was? A half-price coupon at London’s adult learning centre, City Lit.
When I got home, I sped through the course listings and happened upon this gem: a *brand new* course offering next year called – wait for it – Actors Singing From West End to Broadway.
An entire six weeks of show tunes? And you don’t have to have any formal training?
Bring it on baby. And Give My Regards to Broadway, because I’m bound for the West End…