Since she arrived in the Albury Wodonga region Marisabel, a determined and talented singer, has leaped at any chance to be involved in music and theatre that she could get her hands on. Her passion for performance seems to be her driving force and she took the time to talk to me about some of the high points and even some of the low points of the emotional roller coaster that is performing.
What are you talking DIY Itchy Kitschy about today?
I will be talking about my love for the performing arts, particularly singing.
What’s your favourite style of performance?
I love to sing, specially songs that tell a story. This is why Musical Theatre is so special to me. I love to sing in different styles, but those styles rich in African and Spanish roots remain my favourite. This includes RnB, Gospel and traditional, cultural music of Puerto Rico and Spain.
When did you first take an interest in music?
I’ve loved music since I was born. I was brought into this world to the sound of the doctor singing “Copa Cabana” so… that must’ve meant something. My house was surrounded by music and singing. I sang with my sisters non-stop when I was growing up. My Mom played music all the time. She sang in choirs before I was born and a member of her family (Jose Nogueras) recorded albums to great success. She always encouraged me. I sang in public for the first time in my school’s pageants, which happened every year. Then in Year 9, I finally took the plunge into a talent show, singing Madonna’s “Crazy for You.” That was the end: no one could keep me away from a stage from then on. My first musical theatre show was ‘The Return’ [El Regreso] at my hometown’s university. All of the actors had a “shadow” that sang their emotions, which was a clever way to allow actors and singers to be part of the same show. My first show in Australia was ‘Miss Saigon,’ with the Albury Wodonga Theatre Company.
Who if anyone inspired you?
My Mom certainly influenced my love of music and singing. I didn’t really pick it up due to any one particular
singer, however. I simply grew up surrounded by music and sang (almost non-stop). In my homeland (Puerto Rico), people sing while cooking, cleaning, and music is
played everyone, even on the streets. It was something I dearly enjoyed doing, and am glad to be able to do it on stage for others.
What has been the biggest challenge?
Performance comes with many challenges. The first one is yourself. You need to have a great belief in your talent, in your self, and in your ability to endure. The performance industry is full of egos, jealousies, insecurities, back-stabbing, and competition. Some people may say or do nasty things to you, whether due to jealousy or their low self- esteem, and you need to stay strong and not listen to the negativity coming from other people. You need to really believe in yourself, and in your abilities. At the end of the day, you perform because you love music, dance, and acting – to please yourself – so other people’s opinions and attitudes get pushed to the back burner. Performance truly is about believing in yourself. In every show, you come across harsh notes from directors, MDs, or choreographers, which can embarrass you. However, you need to listen to what they are saying and take on board their suggestions so you can grow into a better performer. If you have really thin skin, you might not continue to perform, because the amount of criticism you receive is immense. This is when you face yourself in the mirror and tell yourself to toughen up, to listen to advice, to learn new methods and skills, and to reach down into yourself for courage, strength and creativity.
What has been the highlight?
I’ve enjoyed so many wonderful moments while performing. Some of the highlights include singing carols at the Albury Carols by Candlelight to thousands of people in QEII Square, particularly “Oh, Holy Night” a few months after my Mother died. Such a massive audience! And it’s just you and Paul Gibb’s band, naked in front of all of those people… delivering some wonderful music, just singing: without any gimmicks. Just singing from the heart. Each musical is wonderful and special for it’s own reasons. Playing Rona Peretti in ‘Spelling Bee’ (Livid Productions) was my first time in a leading role, something I will never forget. You stand in front of so many people as the band plays on and you hope you hit every note correctly and
smile as the lights hit you and you know the warmth in your voice carries over the crowd, telling the story.
What is the most exciting thing you have learnt?
The most exciting thing I’ve learned is that shows… take a lot of heart and hard work. Yes, you may be one of the singers, but the show becomes so much more when you get down on your knees and get dirty, either building sets, helping to plot lights, advertising, or producing. Promoting a show gives me a great thrill because I feel deeply about the shows I do, so spreading the word about them makes me happy. Every show grows into something bigger and even more wonderful when you get behind the scenes and lend a hand. There is so much learning to take place…!
If you could recommend one piece of music for readers to listen to what would it be?
It remains Mozart: Requiem. Every part of that composition is filled with outstanding aspects, despite the topic. It lifts the hairs on my arms and fills my insides with something sonorous. I was blessed to be able to perform this music with the Melbourne University Choral Society a few years ago in a concert at St. Paul’s Cathedral in Melbourne. Incredible experience, and I can die a happy person – because I’ve sung what still remains to be my most favourite piece of music.
What does the future hold for you?
I hope to continue to perform in musicals, concerts, and musical showcases. I also hope to continue to produce, promote, and enable shows. It’s something I enjoy deeply. I also hope to continue to teach performing arts to school children, as I love creating performance opportunities for children. I hope one day soon I will be able to direct a show, as I welcome the challenge and extraordinary opportunities this would impart upon me. I’m currently single once more, so I hope to meet an amazing man with whom to share my passion for life and adventure. Above all, I know I will be happy doing what I love to do, enjoying great opportunities surrounded by amazing people, and building outstanding memories.
You can see Marisabel perform:
September 19th to 27th in ‘Aida’ with the University of Melbourne Music Theatre Association (UMMTA)
October 9th to 18th as Olive in “Spelling Bee” with The Chiltern Lions Amateur Players (Bookings 0357261300)
You can find Marisabel’s book The Captain here.
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