Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Never Give Up

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On Sunday evenings I spend time at the fun and inspiring open mic, The Salon, hosted by Mark Janas. Each week, singers are invited to bring a song to share with the crowd, and the audience is filled with award winning cabaret and musical theater performers, as well as songwriters, directors, producers, critics, and folks who simply love music. One thing that distinguishes The Salon from other open mics is their weekly theme - last Sunday we were celebrating Sondheim and were invited to bring any Sondheim song of our choosing. The Salon also brings in special guests to sing an extended set, and perform work that is related to the theme. This week The Salon brought in the great Len Cariou, who is known for originating roles in A Little Night Music, Applause, and the title role in Sweeney Todd (among others.)

I volunteer at The Salon as one of their Etceterette’s- this week, I was the “Floor Etceterette“ who signed people up to sing and then notified them of the song order throughout the evening. And because of this work, I was invited to close Act I of the evening with my song. A few months back, my musical theater acting teacher, Craig Carnelia, asked me to learn the show-stopping anthem, “Being Alive” from Sondheim’ show, Company. I have been working on it since, and felt that Sunday’s Salon would be the right time to break it out for the public.

Folks- I am so glad I did!

When the accompaniment started, it took a few measures for people to realize what I was singing, and a hush came over the crowd. In front of me was Len Cariou, along with his wife Heather and 15 of their closest friends (including Alice Evans, David Green (Judy Kaye’s husband and fantastic singer in his own right), and Penny Fuller.) Add those to the other 40-50 Salon regulars, and you can imagine what a hush might sound like. =)

Probably the strongest thing I have to offer as a singer is song interpretation. There are other singers who have more flair or louder sound, but I pride myself on cutting through the fireworks to deliver a good story. “Being Alive” is not just an anthem, it is MY anthem... an anthem of what I have been going through and what is yet to come. Here are some of the lyrics:

Somebody, hold me too close
Somebody, hurt me too deep
Somebody, sit in my chair and ruin my sleep and make me aware
of Being Alive
Make me Alive
Make me Alive

As I sang, I took time to look each audience member and try to let my words reach their soul. Maybe there would be something in the song that would resonate with them. Maybe there would be something in the way I sang it that would teach them something new. And maybe they might just really, really like the song. No matter, I wanted the song to touch them.

But alone is alone, not alive...
Somebody, crowd me with love
Somebody, force me to care
Somebody, let me come through
I’ll always be there, as frightened as you
To help us survive, being alive
Being Alive
Being Alive

As I hit the last big, sustained note, I could feel that the audience was with me. I laid my head back and let’er rip, and the applause was loud and appreciative! As I walked off the stage and back to me seat, I turn my head to look at Len Cariou, who was beaming. He reached out to grab my hand- as held it he covered our hands with his other hand and looked me deep in the eyes. Then he drew me close and planted a warm kiss on my cheek and said, “Good job!”

Later in the evening I was speaking with his wife, and she said that when she and Len go to concerts, they have a secret “look” they give each other when they are impressed with the singer. She then looked at me and said, “You sang, and he gave me“The Look.” She then said, “Never give up. Keep working. Never give up.”

I am starting this blog again in earnest, as a commitment to never giving up. It is very important that I “Cronical” my adventures as an actor, just as much as I have been chronicling my adventures as a coach. And much like Crystal said last night on American Idol:

“The time is now.“

Erin Cronican's career as a professional actor and career coach has spanned the last 25 years in New York City, Los Angeles and San Diego. She has appeared in major feature films and on television, and has toured nationally with plays and musicals. She has worked in the advertising & marketing departments of major corporations, film production companies, theater magazines, and non-profit acting organizations. For more information, please visit


  1. Thanks for telling THE STORY. It's never too many times to hear, "Don't give up." Whenever I watch an awards show, I wait for the one winner who will say those very words, not because I need to hear it all the time, but because like with anything, no matter how positive a person may be, you start to slip backwards a bit without even realizing it and lose momentum. Sounds like you not only kicked butt, but you brought a lot of 'something' for the audience with that song and your interpretation. Don't give up, and keep it up.

  2. Wow- thank YOU for such a kind comment. Thanks for sharing in the love! =)

  3. Fantastic post Erin. =D

    Very happy to have you back in the blog world.

  4. I would like to hear the song, the lyrics are beautiful!

  5. Thanks, Lenka - you can hear a version of it here: (scroll down to the Audio section.)


Thanks for commenting- YOU ROCK!

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