by Bruce A. Smith
I’ve never heard Sarah Brightman speak with a Cockney accent. Nor have I heard her sing with any proper British accent that would reflect her heritage as the original London lead in Phantom of the Opera, or Cats.
But her crew’s got cockney in spades, and I had a ton o’ trouble understanding their stagehanding instructions during Brightman’s load-out from the Key Arena.
“Go o’er ‘n gi’ mie d’ ite bo- ucks n’ brin’ uh ‘ere,” is what I heard from her video tech and eventually I learned that it meant: “Go under the stage and get me the white box, and bring it here.” Needless to say, it took a little longer than normal to get Ms. Brightman and her all-Brit crew out of Seattle and headed to Portland.
Earlier during her Key show, Sarah had nailed Con Ti Partiro even though her Italian had a trace of her British roots. Nevertheless, her heartfelt singing lost nothing in translation, and tears of joy had ebbed down my cheeks.
But, two things impressed me besides feeling deeply satisfied by her vocal presentation. One, Sarah Brightman can be incredibly static when she sings, or wildly seductive. For some numbers not only didn’t she dance or sway, she barely tapped a toe. Yet, when she did move she vamped viciously – and successfully. It seemed incongruous to me, and I wondered what the upscale crowd at the Key thought of her strut.
While sitting on a piece of lighting truss during an impromptu break during the load-out, I asked her stage manager about the hotsy-totsy stuff. He said he had known Sarah since her early days in Manchester – he was a bouncer at a burlesque club and she was a lap-dancing member of a troupe called the Hot Gossips.
I laughed but inside I was shocked; then, disappointed. But a moment later I nodded in recognition of her great talent. She may have been a sex dancer once upon a time, but she is now a full-fledged Diva who can deliver the goods, from classical pop to operatic arias.
That might explain why she doesn’t move when she sings. She’s busy going to that other place where the great songs live, and then vocally bringing them back to us.
During the show I only knew that I had just closed my eyes and went with her. I didn’t move either, externally at least. But inside, well, it was thunder and lightning, and roses in spring.
© 2004, 2012 Bruce A. Smith