Friday, August 30, 2013

My audition was freaking awesome!

What a difference 35 years makes! I don't remember auditions being either so scary or so much fun when I was in High School.

I was very annoyed when my first one got postponed but it turned out to be a good thing. The extra two days really helped me solidify my Sondheim piece. I couldn't have taken having to wait another 1.5 weeks though, so I'm glad Mr. Mac let me skip his birthday dinner. (Don't worry -- we're going out to eat tomorrow.)

This time I left work an hour earlier and traffic wasn't nearly as bad. It still took me two hours to get there. But no panic. No forgotten sheet music. I even remembered my make-up and hair brush. I got there with 30 minutes to spare so I had time to warm-up, calm down, and otherwise collect myself.

I was super nervous though. I did recognize a few of the kids milling around when I arrived but they were finishing up or checking people in. The only one I recognized who was auditioning with me was Dr. Joe who came to PPF from the Oakland Children's Hospital (our designated charity). He's on the PPF board and has been in many productions. He was trying out to be the Wizard -- whom he looks just like -- or the Cowardly Lion -- who he kind of sounds like -- and I bet he gets at least one of those parts.

At 7:00 pm, they gave us a spiel about how it would work and shuffled us into a room for the auditions. The panel had SO MANY people on it. A million! Okay, maybe only six or seven. I was expecting four though.

We all sat in chairs and waited our turn.

Leslie, the Director, gave another shorter spiel and asked who wanted to go first. <crickets>

Then the first gal in the first chair said she would. So that set the order. We would just go down the line. This was fine by me because we would all know who would go when.

People started going and most people did two songs from Broadway musicals. What surprised me was that some of the people were kind of weak singers. You couldn't really hear them over the piano. I decided I really needed to "sing out" when it was my turn.

For a few people, Leslie had them do a line from the play: "I'll get you, my pretty, and your little dog, too." But not everybody. I prayed I wouldn't have to do that as I didn't feel like I could give that line justice. Not with my heart pounding in my chest.

And it was pounding. It was "I'm having a heart attack pounding." I was wondering "how can I sing when I can't even breathe?" So I worked on trying to breathe and not have my heart pound so much.

As it got closer to my turn, it did get better but then a cool thing happened. Two people came in and they took them out of order. Neither had sheet music. One sang the National anthem a cappella. You were only supposed to sing 16-32 bars but she sang the whole thing and it was so good that I didn't think until later that she was only supposed to sing 16-32 bars. We all clapped!

Actually we all clapped after everyone but sometimes it was more perfunctory than others. This was very sincere and spontaneous applause and the energy in the room totally changed and lost some of that hard nervous edge.

Leslie told the girl, she didn't need to sing her second song after that and I'm sure she'll get into the Performance troupe and gala that she was also auditioning for.

Her friend didn't have sheet music either but sang from some books Leslie had for people who didn't come with anything. They were songs from Wizard of Oz type musicals including Wicked. I thought this was a big No, No to sing music from the musical you were trying out for but PPF is very welcoming and no one got snotty about it.

So we continued and soon it was my turn and I was still nervous but it was manageable nervous.

Leslie started out by apologizing for moving my audition and I told her about the horrible sheet music for my first song and how I made them give me my money back because it was useless and had my karaoke instead and Mini-Mac said it would be okay and was it okay? (I was kind of babbling a bit but I figured I had to do what I needed to do to take control of my nerves and the audition.) She said it would be fine and I gave her my sheet music for my other piece and went to the X and started the audition. It went like so:

My name is Mac and I'm old enough to get the senior's discount at IHOP
Leslie: (chuckles) it happens
But not at Applebees
(everyone laughs)
Leslie: Tell them who you are. This is Mini-Mac's Mom! (People smile and nod--oh Mini-Mac!)
I'm trying out for The Wizard of Oz because I want to be a Flying Monkey. Because, hello? Flying! (Pause) Now you're going to ask me if I am willing to be a Munchkin aren't you? (She'd done that early to the only person in the room shorter than me.)
Leslie: I might
(some back and forth about what parts I might be interested in and can I dance? I tell her I've done a lot of Ballroom Dancing)
I'm doing Thrift Shop by Macklemore (everyone laughs) and "I'm Still Here" from Follies
Leslie: Finally! Someone who understands Contrast!
(I start the music but I can't hear it and I fumble around a bit figuring it out)

Then I start my singing and it goes great! I hit all the musical marks and do all my rehearsed movements  and get all the subtleties in that I was sure would get lost due to nerves and I hear people in the background saying things like "she's really good" and "this is fun" and the panel is bopping along and I just feed off the energy and I remember how much I love to perform and what a ham I am and it's all good.

I finish and everyone applauds. Then we launch right into the Sondheim and I'm still kind of high from the Macklemore so I just sing out like I'm a real singer and I have no idea if I hit all my notes but I think I did.

I did stumble over "Plush velvet sometimes" but Leslie prompted me and I got right back into it and didn't let it phase me and swear I heard the producer (or maybe that was just the voices in my head) tell one of the other kids on the peer panel that "She's really good!" at the end.

But definitely I feel like I nailed it and really couldn't have done any better than that.

So if I don't get to be a Flying Monkey, it won't be from anything I could control as I did my best and really better than my best as it was just one of those times when the performing took over.

I love those times. I've had a few when I was skating too, when I showed up prepared and the energy took me to a place that never happened in practice.

Anyway, then I sat down and nothing really registered for a bit as I still had that performer's high until the little girl after me started crying during her first song. Oh no! I think she forgot her words or got off key or something.

Leslie was so sweet to her and told her how one of the people on the panel auditioned on Tuesday and had to start her song three times because she couldn't find her starting note but the little girl was devastated. Her sister was there trying out too and came up to help her but she couldn't do her second song.

So we moved on and Dr. Joe did a great job as did some others. There was a boy, in particular, whose singing I liked though he did forget a lot of the words to his second song. But he just kept on going and I liked his voice. I bet he gets the part he wants too.

The other thing I remember is Leslie asking one of the girls if she'd play a guy role. I would have said "Hell, yeah!" but she said No. Really? The crying girl and I agreed that was whack. We'd both play guy roles.

Anyway, after the crying girl's sister did her songs, she dragged her younger sister up and they finished the second song together and it was kind of sweet. It was called Cups (?) It had stomping/clapping in it and the panel and the sister did that part for her so she could concentrate on her singing. She had a nice voice, actually.

The final performer was also a PPF Mom, like me, and she is a real singer (unlike me) who wants to be the Wicked Witch. She did a great job and she also was asked to do "I'll get you, my pretty, and your little dog, too." and she nailed it including this awesome cackle. She had the look too. I bet she gets to be one of the Wicked Witches.

It was a nice note to finish on.

Then we all had to come up and stand in a row and say our names again. Normally they don't do that but this was an extra big audition and I think Leslie wanted to fix our names into her brain.

Now the waiting begins.

They'll figure out who gets callbacks this weekend, I think. The actual callbacks are next weekend. I was terrified of them because you can't prepare for them and my lack of being able to just sing without any preparation would come out.

However, I still think that for parts like Flying Monkeys and Munchkins and such, they probably won't bother calling us back. It will be for things like Dorothy and the Wicked Witch. But I could be wrong. If I am, my voice lessons have helped me a lot and I feel a lot more confident that I could get through callbacks in one piece.

I never did get Mini-Mac to try out with me but she's going to audition for A Chorus Line with another theater group in the same area as this one and her audition is the same weekend as callbacks so we may be carpooling assuming I am wrong about which parts get callbacks and assuming I do get called back. She'd be great in A Chorus Line.

I am so glad I did this. When I was stuck in traffic for a bit on the way up there, I thought about bailing and just going home but I then I thought about all the money I spent on voice lessons and it was easier to just keep going so that's what I did.

Many people after losing a lot of weight do what I've done and get into athletics and especially endurance sports. For so many years, you stop being a body because your body has betrayed you. So when you get your body back, you want to use it.

You read about us all the time. Person loses 100 (or more) pounds and becomes a marathoner/Ironman/long distance cyclist/Crossfit world champion and inspires others to do the same. A subset of them become a fitness/nutrition/wellness coach, too. It's such a stereotype that part of why I've come to a standstill on my memoirs is because I can't figure out how to end them and how to not be just another one of those stories with nothing new to say.

You don't hear as much about people losing a ton of weight and then doing non-physical stuff. But this whole Flying Monkey thing, for me, is really part of the same journey.

It's not like I couldn't have tried out to be in a play at 225 pounds. People do it all the time. Yes, being overweight limits your roles. But it's not like being overweight was stopping me from auditioning. I did things like this before. I was an ice dancer and I did ballroom dancing, too.

The difference is that I'm mentally in a different space now. I am not just doing things because they seem like they'd be fun, but I am also doing things that seem like they'd be fun that also scare the crap out of me. I would have tried out to be in a play before my surgery. But I never, never, ever would have done an audition that required singing. Never. I never did that in High School or College when I was the same weight I am now and trying out for things all the time.

Because I was Not. A. Singer. Just like I was Not. An. Athlete.

Except it turns out I was an athlete. I told myself for years I wasn't made to run and didn't have a runners body and I was wrong. And I told myself for years that I wasn't a singer and I can't sing and it turns out I was wrong about that too.

Now I'm not as good as singing as I am at running. Or as good as Mini-Mac who is quite excellent and wants to be the next Lea Michelle and may even manage it. Or even Mr. Mac who has a very nice voice, but would probably never make it on Broadway.

But I did an audition that required me to sing not just one but two songs and I did fine. I was not the best singer there, but I was most definitely not the worst either. I sang in tune and I even did a good job with Thrift Shop. I didn't just "get through it"; I actually did it the way Hip Hop is supposed to be sung.  Go me!

I wonder what else I'm good at that I've told myself all these years I can't do?

Uh oh, the next thing you know I'll be sewing! Or maybe even reading maps and not getting lost!  Okay, let's not get too crazy here.

But the next time I think "oh, I can't do that. I suck at it," I hope I remember this experience and do it anyway. And I definitely realize this is not a lesson you learn one time and that's it. Because I know i've had this thought before. I may even have blogged about it before. But then I get comfortable and I forget.

It's something I have to learn over and over and remind myself over and over. Which is part of why I'm hammering on it a bit here. To try to get it a little deeper into the memory banks.
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