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By: - Columnist
/ 12:45 AM October 26, 2017

NEW YORK—The one thing I can say is that I’m happy it happened in rehearsal and not during our paid performances. I’m on vocal rest.

The cause of this can be any one of a few factors:
the recent cross-country travel to California, sleep deprivation, a compromised immune system and a nasty bug originating from who knows where. All coming together in perfect harmony to render me silent, except during the night when I’m coughing for hours.


It’s never fun, and I would never wish this upon anyone. Thank goodness that today I’m doing so much better, and that last night, my sleep was a fully restful one.

When this happens during performances, the usual plan of action is a trip to an ENT (ear, nose, throat specialist) wherever I happen to be, and I’m placed on a course of antibiotics and steroids whenever necessary in order to stop the infection and get me back onstage as soon as possible.


It’s happened before that I’d be back at work before I’m completely healed, mostly because I’m bored at home and would rather be singing, even if I happen to cough every now and then.

However, we’re still in rehearsal mode. Sure, I still made a trip to my ENT and was placed on a course of strong meds to get rid of this, and
was instructed to rest my
voice completely.

By the end of last Friday’s rehearsal, my voice was close to gone, sounding hoarse. On Sunday, the doctor took a look at my vocal folds, and sure enough they were red and raw from the coughing.

She also advised the use of oregano oil a few times a day (it possesses antifungal and antiviral properties), either under my tongue or in my drinking water, as well as using Thieves and RC oils for my immune system and respiratory health, respectively. But the crux of the treatment is to stay completely silent while I work.

Thankfully, the cast, crew and creative team of “Once
on This Island” are incredibly understanding.

I wasn’t feeling sick, so I was able to actually stand up, move around and get to work. And it was while up and working that I realized something: I have nothing to fall back on, because my voice was absent. How would I achieve clarity of expression without the one tool I’ve relied upon for so many times in so many years?

Our director Michael Arden did challenge me to explore the physicality of Erzulie; well, this would be the perfect time to do it, as my physical being was the only tool I had. I also called upon my trusted friend Victor Lirio, to help me figure stuff out.


There was experimenting with how she walks … how she stands … the facial expressions she employs … her relationships with those around her, both human and celestial. Is she deliberate? Impetuous? Impulsive? Does she sprint? Jog? Amble? Are her strides wide, or narrow? If she were an animal, would she be a crane, a giraffe or a cheetah? Is she
angular or curved? Does she strike like lighting, or caress like an ardent lover?

In short, how would the Goddess of Love be? I haven’t answered much in a cerebral sense, so I let myself just be, and see what happens when I’m released into a space with my imagination and what I knew of her thus far.

Without revealing much, I survived and, with each passing day I get myself closer to where I need to be, and who this being is. The cool part about my job is that the possibilities are endless. I can create her however I please, as long as it services the material and is true to the spirit of how the show’s creators envision the musical.

And it never hurts to be reminded that a voice is nothing without the heart, and I’m so happy to have worked on that second part. Sometimes, being voiceless means having the loudest voice in all the world.

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