A Series of Awkward Auditions

Ok are we sick of post-Oscars coverage yet? Usually I could spend weeeeeks just devouring party pictures and detailed articles about handbag sequin application but this year I’m already feeling exhausted. Somehow, deserved or not, Sunday’s ceremony has spawned endless, lengthy diatribes about misogyny and racism and whether or not it breaks comedy rules to apologize for a joke, even if that “joke” involved calling a 9-year-old (the world’s most awesome 9-year-old) a see-you-next-Tuesday. And while yes, we probably do need to be having these conversations, sometimes, internet, maybe we could NOT have conversations and just look at pictures of pretty poofy party princess people?

I’ve resorted to alliteration to attempt to express just how over it I truly am. I might need to stop reading Jezebel.

Well! Now that I’ve gone on an angry rant about angry rants, allow me to turn the conversation to the joys of the Academy Awards, way back in the days of yore when I was but a sweet young thang, dreaming about the future. In my youth, whenever people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up I always answered that I wanted to be an Academy Award-Winning Actress. Not just actress. Academy Award-Winning Actress. Those first three words were most important. This was my dream career until I was about … 16. I didn’t do any plays or musicals or acting of any kind, because that was clearly unnecessary. I did, however, read an unhealthy amount of People Magazine. My goal never really had much to do with acting. It was all about fame.

Ohhhh how much I’ve changed!

I did, however, make a few pathetic attempts to get my foot in the door of that whole acting game. I knew that winning an Oscar was going to take some work. I ain’t stupid. In 9th Grade I tried out for our high school’s Spring Musical: Oliver! The ! is part of the name, just like that stupid band Fun. that I love/hate. But in this instance I was really excited to tell you about Oliver! so the ! is relevant. (Wasn’t that sentence impossible to read? Oh Fun.! I love your catchy medleys but why must you punctuate?) I actually don’t remember very much about this audition except that I was too tall to be one of the urchins, too terrible at singing to even be in the chorus and had a hard time keeping up with any of the dance steps.

Needless to say: I did not make the cast.

A pal of mine also did not make the list, so we came up with the genius idea to write our own musical that we could star in. It was a story about…wait for it…two awesome girls who try out for a musical and don’t make it so they write their own musical…and star in it. Art drawn from life is always the most meaningful, no? We were in this photography class and we used our dark room time to compose our big musical number, which went like this:

We’re writing our very own musical,

we hope you enjoy the show.

So sit back, relax, and take off your hats,

Cuz you’re gonna like it we know!

At the third line we’d do this super cool move where we sort of dipped, like we were sitting down in a chair, and then took off our imaginary hats with a flourish.

Aaaaand that was it. The entire musical. AMAZING. Geniuses. We gave up after four lines, despite our obvious talent. A loss for the world of culture, to be sure.

But, after failing in 9th Grade, did I quit? Well, yes, I did just admit I abandoned my original musical project, so I guess I was a quitter in certain areas of life, but I did not quit auditioning. Yet. The following year our school did a production of The Wizard of Oz, everyone’s favorite musical production starring midgets. I knew I lacked the talent to be Dorothy, or the Tin Man or either of the Witches or really any character whatsoever BUT I saw a way for me to get up on that stage. I would be a flying monkey! I could achieve stardom and attain the power to fly at the same time, killing the two proverbial birds with one star-making stone.

I imagined myself wearing a cute, fluffy outfit with one of those little fez caps, whizzing through the air on invisible strings, like Mary Martin in Peter Pan. Oh, how the audience would LOVE me! Unfortunately our musical theater suffered from a small budget and, perhaps a too large amount of creative vision, so our director decided that instead of flying from harnesses, our monkeys would skate around on rollerblades and convey flight via death-defying sk8r stunts.

Was I a talented roller blader? Um, no. In fact, I find roller blading terrifying. I don’t like that you have to lean backwards to break and can’t just put your foot down when you start going too fast. Yes, I am afraid of roller blading. I actually had that listed as one of my five personal facts on my OK Cupid profile. Another was that I don’t know how fax machines work. It’s really weird how that site never really worked out for me, huh? ANYWAY, I did not let this fear stop me. A friend and I foolishly assumed that no one else would really try out for this dumb role, surely the cool skater dudes were much too busy shopping for Vans and listening to Sublime and such to try out for a school musical. They’d be forced to cast us in these prime roles purely out of desperation!

We were mistaken. When we showed up to auditions that fateful afternoon the auditorium was filled, filled!, with skater boiz. Wall to wall, there they were, with their wallet chains and their wide leg pants and their regulation cool guy blades and there we were with our neon pink roller blades rescued from elementary school. Bonus to being an early developing, oversized child monster: shoes you fit into at age 9 still fit when you’re 16!

The audition was simple. Start at the top of the main auditorium aisle, skate down the slight incline and when you reach the bottom, do a trick! Some boys did flips. Some jumped all the way up on to the stage. NONE of them were wearing their wrist guards. Did their mothers not lecture the on the dangers of roller blading? My friend and I contemplated just running for the hills, but we’d come too far to quit. Our names were on the sign up sheet! We would try out for this musical, and we would look great doing it.

We decided to do the audition together. We lined up at the top of the auditorium, skated warily down the aisle, and when we reached the bottom of the incline we did not jump or flip or leap up on the stage. We just slowly turned and skated out of the auditorium, and out of the school and never looked back.

I know this is going to come as a surprise to you but we were not cast as flying monkeys in that or any other musical performance. Probably for the best. If my memory serves, one of the monkey skaters broke his leg on stage on opening night. Ouch. I did help with set design that year which, so at least I got in one solid season of being a Theater Kid.

And thus, my acting dreams ended. I still secretly want to win an Academy Award, but now instead of for acting, it is for the revolutionary and amazing romantic comedy I always pretend I’m going to write. If it is anything like my attempt at musical theater, they will probably have to just cancel the Oscars all together and come up with a whole new award ceremony just for me and my greatness.

I promise I’ll thank you all!

muppets of oz

Unfortch I do not have any photos from these special times, so here is a gratuitous stock photo of the Muppets Wizard of Oz which apparently starred the always great Ashanti in the role of Dorothy Gale. HOW have I never seen this production?!

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6 thoughts on “A Series of Awkward Auditions

  1. Get this: I played Oliver in our university-community theatre’s production of Oliver! AND the next year, I was the Mayor of the Munchkins in The Wizard of Oz! (Exclamation mark mine.) I am living your dream and look at me now!

    Actually, I was double-cast as Oliver with my best friend David Smith. The local weekly, The Casket (real newspaper name) said that David demonstrated more “pathos” than I did. After I looked it up in the dictionary, I learned that “pathos” means “you suck.”

    Great post.

  2. In fifth grade, as an underdeveloped asthmatic I was by far the shortest cast member in the years 5/6 rendition of A Pilgrim’s Progress. So what did the teachers cast me as? The Giant Of Despair. They thought it was hilarious. I have been scarred for life.

  3. This post made me laugh out a loud a couple of times, one being of you writing the musical. BECAUSE do you remember when a bunch of our families went to the campground at Knoebel’s? Was it for a birthday? You wrote a play where somebody got murdered and we all had to act it out…please tell me you remember this? We were going to perform your masterpiece to our parents.

    • hahaha OMG of course I remember that! I think we did end up putting on some kind of performance – there are def pics at my mom’s house I must find them! See, i was such a genius playwright in my youth.

      Related: remember at Knobels how there was that stream and we bathed in it? I just remember wearing my swimsuit and washing my hair under some kind of “waterfall” that was probably one inch high and thinking it was the greatest experience of my life.

      Let’s go back to Knobels! yes!

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