I wanted to work on this post before the year ended, but I was down with a bad case of stomach flu. I actually threw up right after I ended filming and basically slept the countdown away. 2016 was off to a busy start, and I started on my blog revamp, so this post was put on hold for awhile.
I wanted to share this because Beauty World was a journey that I learned so much from. It made me grow and I found a kind of happiness that I never really felt before.
I started on rehearsals for Beauty World before “The Dream Makers 2” wrapped up. My schedule was hectic and it was a very stressful time for me. Zhao Fei-er made a huge impact on me, emotionally and psychologically. In fact, I was in mild depression when I entered Beauty World.
These shots were taken when I was at the trailer shoot. 12 spotlights in total to achieve this amazing effect that you see.
Vocal classes started when my role and involvement was confirmed. But because I was still filming, it wasn’t as intensive as I hoped it could be. I took on a musical with zilch training or knowledge.
It wasn’t easy when Beauty World opened and given only 2 months of vocal training, I was criticized for not being a Celine Dion. This particular DJ was SO vindictive with her words, so much so I would love to watch her do this role, act, sing AND dance. I was not in the best frame of mind, having just wrapped “The Dream Makers 2”, and whatever she said made me break down.
John Lee was the man who built me up from nothing. I received crash courses on singing techniques, he slowly expanded my vocal range, and gave me confidence in place of all my fears. He worked tirelessly with me, getting his teacher, Spencer, and his friend who is also a vocal coach, Wendy, to work with me, so that I could absorb as much as I could and sure enough, something did click eventually! I continued with lessons even when the show had started and the last one month was the most intensive.
While John Lee gave me the foundation and the body of the singing language, Hossan Leong gave me the clothes to style that body. Being a performer himself, he knew all too well what I was going through and the difficulties I faced. He helped me so much with whatever sessions I had with him. Even when he was on a holiday he’d always check on me to see how I was doing and progressing. I’d text him and say “Ok now they want me to try this style, HOW?” And he’d do a voice recording explaining with a demo on what has to be achieved. I would later practise like mad and made sure I got it.
Kit Chan was my other mentor. Hers was another level altogether, giving soul to the voice. She helped with my mental preparation for a song and believed I was able to push myself much more. She listened to my recordings I did during class and encouraged me with what she marked as “GOOD” and everytime I sang that high note after that, I somehow felt more confident.
She says “You are very eager to learn and easy to mentor because you are receptive, humble and intelligent” and she dared me to quote her. What I do want to say is, I am aware of what I lack and I reach out and seek help. I don’t see any reason that pride should get in the way of self-improvement.
Cheryl Tan (playing Ivy Chan) would do vocal warm ups with me every single day before show started. She planned exercises that would help strengthen my vocals and I’d record our sessions and do those vocal exercises back at home.
Frances Lee (playing Rosemary Joseph) is another person who really put me at ease. She is such a powerhouse singer and singing a duet with her is nothing short of intimidating. But she was always full of encouragement and when the critiques went all out to tear me apart, she was also the very first person to text me and give me all her support and love.
The Beauty World family rallied behind me and they really supported me and believed in me. This is something that I have never felt before. I never knew that such support in a team existed and it made all the difference to me.
If I was the target of all those arrows, then they were the people who took those arrows out of me and threw it back at whoever shot them. I realize too, that this was the first step of recovery from my depression.
The very first time I sang in front of the media during the press conference was nerve wrecking. That period of time right up to the show, I worked so very hard. Not only on vocals but on my choreography as well. Dancing AND singing requires so much more stamina, it isn’t as easy as it looks.
I’d make the choreo assistant, Samantha, stay back after rehearsals to clean up the steps with me. I’d get a studio and work on the choreo and figure out how to stylize it and make it Lulu’s. Jeffrey Tan helped me so much on top of what Zaini did. So much help came my way I don’t even know where to begin to say how grateful I am.
Before each show, both matinees and evening shows, I’d be preparing myself, I’d sing the songs, work out my choreo and run my lines. I first stayed in my room which was at level two, then I’d sing along the corridor at level one, finally I made my way into the Stage Management room because it was the nearest room to the stage. The team got so used to seeing me in there that they decided to add these 3 words on the door : Jeanette’s Singing Room.
My performances grew in strength day by day, and I started to enjoy the stage when fears and tears took a backseat. My coaches told me they had never seen any student improve so much within a span of 2 months. This achievement alone made me believe all the more that when you set your mind to something, you will be able to get there. Beauty World wasn’t about proving myself (I never set myself up as a singer in the first place), it was a journey of growth and love.
I realized I could really be happy when I achieve something that was unimaginable in the beginning. I realized that I didn’t have to prove it to anyone, that as long as I know and appreciate the journey that I was on, it was enough. I realized that getting out of my comfort zone took immense courage but when I did it, it was liberating.
I was hit with mild depression when I started on this production. This Beauty World team held my hand all the way. They had unwavering faith and confidence in me. They never once let me feel I was fighting a lone war. I grew better and stronger and happier. By the end of the run, I realized that I was smiling from the heart again.
Lulu, the vindictive cabaret queen, actually freed me from the depths of darkness and sadness. And as all the stage characters hated Lulu, the cast members all loved me.
So thank you 2015, for showing me there is still Beauty in this World.