Thursday, February 12, 2009

A Tim Tam Too Far

This opera is by far my favourite recording from the Lightning Doubles days. It's your standard Theatresports opera; (loose) time limit of 4 minutes, title given at the start, scene performed in operatic style. In this one, David Napier plays the unfortunate addict; Buck Buckingham is David's colleague; Jamie Rowe is Buck's sidekick (and the source of the tagline at the end of the opera).

Listen to A Tim Tam Too Far

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For the non-Aussies, a Tim Tam is a chocolate cookie; you can find them in grocery stores in the US now, imported by Pepperidge Farm. (If you haven't had a Tim Tam Slam, you haven't lived.) It is far superior to another Arnotts product, the Chocolate Wheaten. If you're not up with your Australian biscuit lingo, trust me, this is all important background material.

Why do I love this opera so much? To me, there are so few of the tell-tale hiccups that you get in an improvised scene, it sounds slick enough that it could have been rehearsed. (I can assure you, it wasn't. You can hear a few blocks here and there.) David Napier is a fantastic singer, and he just seems to make everything easy for the musician. There were a few times when I happened on some freakishly lucky chord progression changes that matched where he was going. From a lyrical/structural point of view, he used a really nice device where he would regularly repeat the last line of a stanza, which gave his character a nice sense of continuity.

David also used a nice technique where he would lead the timing of his line a little bit, and that would give me a clue about where he was taking that next line, just ahead of when I had to decide on the chord progression.

Buck is a Brisbane impro legend. Buck is, well, let's say he's not renowned for his operatic ability. But he carried this one off really well.

I think it's terribly important as a musician to key off of the intensity and mood of the performers. They can change from timid to dramatic in the blink of an eye, and there's a little bit of that in this opera. The part where David admits to his co-workers that he's been sneaking Tim-Tams has some nice swings from light to dramatic.

What would I change if I could do it again? Maybe I might have tried to introduce a key change here and there, to make it not sound like one long song. In the end though I think this one has stood the test of time just the way it is. I still can't help smiling when I hear it.

Download A Tim Tam Too Far (mp3, 4.8 mb)

This is the first entry in a series of recordings of Songs and Operas from Brisbane's Lightning Doubles Theatresports from 1992/1993.


buck Buckingham said...

Kris! That made my day. I have never heard it before because once you are in it you are flying along and part of it. David Napier is a gift to any team when there's something musical involved.

The other unsung hero is you. The musician who is in every scene with every team... adding, embellishing, supporting. Thanks I can almost remember it now.

Kris said...

Buck - It's funny, I can't remember actually doing this opera either, probably because I've heard the recording so many times. I can't even begin to visualise what was happening on stage. My wife Wanda remembers a great many of these recorded songs and operas because she was there... before we'd even met!

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