We're back with our exciting new series today called Feature Fridays where we'll be interviewing Industry Peeps and sharing insider info, tips, and tricks! If you have anyone that you'd like us to interview, please let us know!
Our next interview is with Bethany Jeffery, who's currently playing Pat on the Kinky Boots national (and soon to be international) tour.
What’s your favorite part about being on tour? I’ve always loved to travel, so getting to see and explore cities all over the world is the most amazing thing. I make a point to try to hit some delicious local eateries, as well as see the sights in most places. And I definitely enjoy chatting with new people at the bars, the stage door, and everywhere else!
While performing in a long run, how do you keep your show/story/songs fresh every night? For me, the best way to stay present and keep everything fresh, is to just listen. In scene work, I really try and force myself out of my head by focusing on what is being said and what is being done by my fellow actors. In songs, it’s both about the listening, like to the band or the others, and sustaining the intention, which is interesting because that requires me to stop listening to myself. In general, I try to use the “senses” to keep me out of my head and in the world of the piece: touch, sound, sight, and occasionally smell or taste, haha.
What’s your “vocal routine” like out on the road? Lots and lots and lots of water. I usually do a short vocal warm-up/check-in in the morning or early afternoon to see where my voice is that day and then come show time, based on how it was, I have a quick warm-up or a longer one, depending on what I need that day. I do lots of buzzing and lip-trills to massage my chords and get them to close. I then do a lot of sirening both on “NG” and lip trolls to work through any spots in my range that may be having a harder time that day. If I’m really tired or my vocal folds are more swollen than usual, I’ll add some placement stuff to find the brightness of my sound and to make sure my larynx will raise.
Any travel hacks to stay healthy? Going to New and sometimes drastically different climates all the time is really hard. Humidifiers are essential oils are a GODSEND. They will save you. Steaming in the shower has been great, especially because hotel rooms are soooo dry. I take multi-vitamins and vitamin c everyday too. And the most obvious one... GET SLEEP. Just like at home, getting 8+ hours a night really helps my body fight stuff off.
Tell us one fun fact! Don’t drink Kombucha before you have to sing a solo!!! I was drinking one during a show once, and right as I stepped up to sing a little solo within a group number, I literally choked on the coating in my throat and couldn’t sing a single note of it, hahaha. It was so embarrassing and my cast mates couldn’t stop laughing.
What would you say to a singer experiencing fatigue during vocal rehearsals? Vocal rehearsals are hard because usually you’re singing more than you ever will during the actual show. And your voice is still learning to navigate the placement/breath of the material, so usually it isn’t your healthiest singing either. I’m a firm believer in marking/mixing as you learn the melody/harmonies/words and then adding style and full voice. And once you’ve done it full out once or twice- back off and don’t kill yourself doing it over and over and over again. They heard it, you felt it, everybody knows it’s in there, so no one will think twice if you cool it. Let your voice slowly build up the stamina over time.
What’s a lasting piece of advice you’ve gotten from a Voice teacher or music director? Honestly, just know everything about the voice that you can and get to know your own chords like the back of you hand. Having the vocabulary and awareness to talk about and work through what you need, in as specific terms as possible, is an invaluable skill. I love vocal pedagogy and have read countless books/studied it with multiple people and my voice is like my best friend- it doesn’t even have to say anything for me to know exactly what it needs that day, lol. Because some MDs will be incredible at their jobs, but they’re not singers and don’t always know what’s healthiest or how to technically get a specific kind of sound out of you, so it’s your job to be able to interpret what they want and navigate that for your own chords/vocal health. I am really grateful that I had teachers who valued vocal anatomy and technique, as highly as they valued vocal style and the end product.