Looking at my calendar today brought me a reminder that my friend and colleague, Norm Carlberg died unexpectedly ten years ago today. As we all say, how time has flown. Yet my memories of Norm are clear and filled with admiration of a good, true, giving person who was extraordinarily talented.
In July 2010 my blog entry was about the three directors who made my “Life! Love! Song! A Visit with Gena Branscombe” show come alive. Norm Carlberg, Evan Pappas and Ellen Harvey gave of their talents to guide me through the development and performance of this wonderful and fun one-woman show.
It was Norm Carlberg with whom I first shared my idea of the show. Over dinner, I sought his advice on how to go about writing and creating my idea….how to make it a reality. Listening intently as I recounted my Gena Branscombe journey up to that day, Norm slowly spoke in his deep bass voice, “Just start writing” was his advice….”write and write without editing your work.” Even with my doubts, I knew he was correct.
I invited Norm to be my director and he accepted then offered to have the premiere performance at the Liederkranz Club where he was Director of Music. There we rehearsed staging, music and character ideas and constantly changed the script. Our show was coming alive!
Speaking at a memorial service for Norm held at the Liederkranz Club, I said the following about our work together:
“I soon learned that Norm’s way of directing was to give you an outline of staging, a few key words for character then he left you to use your imagination, emotions and intelligence. Phone calls to Norm after rehearsals were similar to the pain of pulling teeth. I would ask what suggestions/criticisms he had and his response would be….”just keep going in the direction you are.” Or maybe….”mumble to yourself a little more” or “don’t worry it’s fine.” We singers are more insecure than that and he knew it. We need to be stroked, yet I learned in his quiet way he was allowing me to grow as an artist …telling me to be stronger and more self sufficient, and watching me grow as a singing actress. After the performance he called and said in his low voice, “It was really good!” Four simple words……discreet, sincere and filled with pride of our partnership. A more kind and understanding colleague one could not find and as a friend, a blessing to my life.”
Norm Carlberg, I miss you and thank you for your belief in my dream of a one-woman show about Gena Branscombe. You were a true teacher, friend and colleague….a blessing to this singing actor’s life.