Friday Fun: Climbing Uphill (Jason Robert Brown)

One of the really great things about my singing lessons is that every fortnight, we have a performance class, in which we get to hear what all the other students are doing.  Some of the others are studying for exams; others are working on audition pieces, or on pieces for performances that they will be doing, and you never know when someone stands up whether you’re going to get opera or lieder, music theatre or gospel, Adele or Janice Joplin.  What you do know is that the odds are that someone will be doing something that you’ve never heard before and really like.

The other delicious thing about this class is that there are a handful of truly phenomenal singers and performers who always leave me mesmerised.  One of them, S, is also a particularly talented actress, and she is the one who brought this wonderfully clever song to class a few weeks ago.

I’m very sorry, in all honesty, that you can’t hear S’s performance of this, because she really is phenomenal – this performance comes close, but I think S’s is better.  I just adore the cleverness of this song – the whole stream of consciousness in the second rendition of the audition song is wonderfully, blackly funny.

Climbing Uphill comes from a musical called The Last Five Years, by Jason Robert Brown, and it’s sung by Catherine, which is clearly a sign that I need to learn this piece.  The musical itself sounds rather interesting in a slightly depressing Time Traveller’s Wife meets A Chorus Line sort of way – it tells the story of struggling actress Cathy’s relationship with Jamie, a rising writer, but Cathy’s story starts at the end of their relationship and works backward, while Jamie’s timeline starts at the beginning of their relationship and moves forward.  They only meet in the middle for the wedding.

Here’s an audio only version, which I think is sung by Sherie Rene Scott – it’s very, very good – the lyrics are beautifully clear, and the singing is excellent.  Though I do think this song is better when you can see some of the story playing out in a performance… but sadly the only version I could find with Scott singing in performance was a very poor recording, and I think the words are too important to get blurred by background voices.

Really, you should just come along to my singing class and hear S doing it.

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