Photo by Mona Mirpour
It’s a chilly Saturday evening, and the Ruth Taylor courtyard is filled with Trinity students bundled up, waiting for the show to begin. A keyboard and a mic are set on a rug just feet from the audience, and it feels like you’re about to see a celebrity up close. Senior Leah Woehr wanders through the audience, mingling and serving tea before her performance. It appears a lot of her friends are in the audience to support her, their interactions filled with shared experiences and stories. Maybe you haven’t met her before today, yet it’s hard not feel the warmth she is working to create in the crowd.
The show begins. She sits and begins to play a few chords in a major key and the audience hushes. She begins with a song she wrote called “All That and More.” She begins to sing, the lyrics sharing the story and feelings of her college years. They hold an authentic edge.
Just a day before the show, Woehr sat down for a behind-the-scenes of her one-night-only, one-woman show, “Carry Me.”
So, for the people who aren’t able to go, how would you describe your show and maybe any deeper meaning of it, in your own words?
Woehr: The basis of it is that it’s just a collection of songs that I’ve written and a couple covers from people like Lady Gaga and like Sarah Bareilles, just to mix it up a little bit. Throughout the show, I’ll sing a song and then I’ll tell a story or explain the next song. It’s a relatively personal performance because all of the songs that I’ve written come from my own experiences.
Have you been performing for a long time? Do you still get nervous?
L: I’ve been performing for a long time, and I act, so I’m used to that kind of thing, but I’m not used to playing my own songs. Performing in this way, especially when I’m playing piano and singing, I can’t mess up the piano and I can’t mess up the song! It is kind of a lot but it’s exciting.
So how long have you been singing and playing piano? Any other instruments?
L: I’ve been playing piano for 15 years. And I’ve been singing and writing songs for a really long time. But I started formal vocal training my freshman year of high school so about eight years of that. And as far as other instruments, I play guitar and I play the ukulele.
When did you start writing songs, and what was your initial inspiration?
L: So I started writing songs I think when I was like 12 in middle school, and you know that was the time when Taylor Swift was really big. So then I wanted to be the first Chinese country singer. I’ve since departed from that. So I guess that was kind of my dream. I loved singing and so I need to be able to write my own songs. Something that I talk about in the show is that I tend to write when I’m feeling really intense emotions. When I’m feeling really happy, or in love, or really sad and angry, that’s when I tend to write because there’s no other way that I can express how I feel than to put it into a song. All of the songs represent different points in my life and different times when I was feeling certain emotions.
What time period of your life is all of this coming from?
L: It’s coming from the past four years, none of my 12-year-old songs. Just college. The earliest song in the set that I wrote was the summer before my first year.
How is preparing for a one-woman show different from other shows?
L: It’s kind of like stand-up comedy in a way. I mean I’m not trying to be funny but … It’s kind of like vibing with the audience and just kind of improvising some stuff. So I have a general outline of what I want to say. Since it is like a one-woman deal, I don’t have anyone telling me when to rehearse, but I have a schedule … It’s a lot of self-management.
What can viewers can expect to get from this show, what’s the feel of it?
L: I think it takes you on a journey. Because the songs have their own stories. But the last song that I play is “Carry Me”, and that is supposed to kind of give people a sense of hope. So I’m hoping that people will feel warm and fuzzy. You know sometimes you go through really happy times in your life, and sometimes you go through things that are hard to deal with. And you live your life, and you keep moving forward.
Can we expect another performance or more shows in the future since their was only one planned show?
L: Um, yeah! I wouldn’t be opposed to it! I’m kind of using this as a practice for possibly moving further into songwriting and maybe recording. I want to see if people actually like these songs.
Woehrs audience cheered for all of her songs and Woehr seemed a natural on stage, her years of training helping. The possibilities for more shows are there for Woehr, the question now is a hopeful when.