Thursday, April 23, 2009

Teenage years. You hear the good and the bad associations all the time... "it's the best time of your life.... 30 years from now you'll look back and think about how great things were in high school... cherish it now while you're young" as well as "prime suffering years... I know it's hard, it gets better as you get older.... identity crisis, you don't know who you are yet" and etc. and etc. I can only understand the negative side of it really. Jr. high and high school years are the worst. For several reasons. Even just looking back now makes me want to get in a ball and cry. Okay, I'm being dramatic.

First of all, there's this extreme desire to simultaneously want to fit in and to stand out. And you think the only way you will be accepted is if you act a certain way, even if it's entirely not you. I distinctly remember in junior high thinking I would definitely be one of the cool kids if only I swore. I mean, that's a ridiculous thought. (You can tell this was the younger years of junior high because it's swearing versus the whole drinking, partying, sex thing). Yet, I was so sure of it. In my mind it was the only thing holding me back. Maybe I chose to think this to justify to myself why I wasn't one of the popular kids... I could say to myself "self, if you woke up one day and started swearing you would be a cool person" and I'd never have to worry about what if that wasn't the case because I knew swearing is something I wouldn't do. Another silly anecdote here... there was a time in like 1995 when they were going to add an M&M color to the standard mix and you could call in and vote on which you wanted. The "cool girls", who I was on a casual talking basis with, but never included in the elite club, told me to vote repeatedly for blue. I'm talking they would all call each other at night to say how many times they were able to get in blue votes. And when I was asked I sure wasn't going to give a disappointing number. The kind of sad thing is that I really wanted pink. I still remember feeling incredibly guilty because I threw in one solitary vote for pink. When blue won they felt accomplished. I was a secondary accomplice. Perhaps an accomplished feeling accomplice... until I realized that I was secretly hoping pink would win to spite them all.

So those swearing and M&M stories were like the pre-teen and early teen years. Junior high stuff. By high school you're somewhat more comfortable with yourself and have some sense of pride. You may still want to hang with the popular crew but you wouldn't do anything they say just as an attempt to please (like vote for the color M&M THEY decide is best even though you think otherwise.... you might say you did it, but actually doing it? No). By high school I realized that believe it or not, even if I swore I wouldn't fit in with them. But I also started to realize maybe I didn't want to. Sure, on an ego level I would have loved it but it's also fun to join the "cliques are stupid" clique. Whereas early teen years you want nothing more than to fit in and be exactly like everyone else, late teen years the last thing you want is to be cookie-cutter. You want to be known. We're all individuals, but what makes you unique? The torture of high school is finding that out and becoming comfortable with what you find. Plus, I don't know if what I went through in high school was so much worse than the type of things I go through now or if it just felt that way because it's the first time you have to learn to cope with difficult things. (Because let's face it, other than hating the fact that your gym class just switched from scooters to football, you didn't have that many concerns when you were little).

Maybe I'm generalizing... I'm sure plenty of people had horrible child childhoods and loved teenage childhoods. Or both were okay, great, or lousy. But I really think those jr. high/high school years are the worst. At least by college you're pretty settled into yourself and stop caring what other people think so much. All I'm saying is that I highly doubt I will ever wish I could go back to my teenage years... maybe in the sense that I'd like to go back and give it a do-over, knowing what I do now, but even that's unlikely. No thanks, let's just erase age 12-17 all together. Take that back, let's remember it so that we can look back and think "I'm so glad that's over". Never again will I vote blue if I want pink. (Or keep quiet about my love for Megan Corkery on American Idol, now gone for weeks, despite her odd love of acting like a bird and general hatred by 99% of viewers) And to this day, even though I'm plenty old enough to not worry about being yelled at by a parent for swearing, I don't care what people think when they find out I still don't swear. I'm who I am and I'm realizing this has kind of turned into a "be proud of who you are, accept your differences" after-school-special. Ughh

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

So I hesitated before deciding to share my audition story, mainly because if I get the show and become friends with any other cast people on facebook they could quite easily find this here blog, read, chuckle through the first half, and decide to hate me by the second half. But I decided to share and just avoid making friends. It's more my style. (By the way, if you ARE from one of the shows and just read that, it was sarcastic. I'm a sarcastic person. Now that that's clear...)

So, on Saturday I went to go audition for the 3 shows which make up the summer season at an outdoor theatre group in Danbury. Three shows in this case are defined as Funny Girl, A Chorus Line, and Children of Eden. In researching this theatre it seemed somewhat more legit than your average community theatre. For starters, I found out about the auditions on, a fairly legit site. There were also 4 days of auditions, spanning over 21 hours, rather than the usual 1 day, 3 or 4 hours. They requested that you bring a headshot and resume. The director/choreographer of A Chorus Line has done choreography on Broadway (including the well known "Telephone Hour" from Bye Bye Birdie). But it's non-profit and there's no pay. So I couldn't decide in my mind if it was just a kind of suped-up community theatre trying to appear as more than it is, or a pre-professional, step below the big-time, type of place. I arrived at the audition still unsure.

So I get to the audition site which is one of those K-12 private schools, and it looked like a barn. I walk into the barn, grab a sign-in sheet and sit down to fill it out. The usual questions... age, height/weight, voice type, songs prepared for the audition, rehearsal conflicts, sign your life away saying you will not demand pay, desired roles, favorite nursery rhyme... the norm. I decide to say "yes" to auditioning for all 3 shows rather than the 2, 1 or ever-confusing none option. I decide to say "yes" to accepting ensemble for one show and "no" to the other two. (When I told this to someone on Monday she appeared SHOCKED... "but, don't you think you need to work your way up Trisha?".... in my head I replied "I worked my way up. Just not with this group" (I decided upon seeing the barn it was probably more community theatre-esque. If more professional-ish, I could agree with her) and my mind followed it with a "don't judge me as an overly-confident-in-their-own-talent snob". Out loud I made up something more polite about how rehearsals were an hour from work and an hour from home and I knew it would be taxing so I'd rather only make the commitment if I have a role... which I suppose can still sound theatre snobby, but...) Anyways, the fact that I was auditioning for Funny Girl and said no to ensemble was almost a joke. To be quite honest I DETEST the show, found Barbara Streisand ridiculously annoying in the movie, and would not want to suffer through being in the ensemble. (Add in, month later... I'm in the ensemble and actually quite enjoying it. haha. I apologize for the severity of my pre-conceived notions). But I knew that although I would never be able to pull off the comedic characterizations, or the powerful 18 solo songs, or convince the audience I am Jewish, I might as well put down that I'm auditioning for the lead of Fanny Brice. In the 1 in 10,000 chance I actually got it, it would be a great resume role. A Chorus Line I instantly checked "no" to ensemble, because I did not just want to be in the opening number after already doing the show before. No thanks. For desired parts I wrote Val, Kristine and Judy... three of only four I can realistically play. (Here's the breakdown even though I'm sure none of you care all that much. Cassie and Sheila I'm too young to play. Two out of nine parts out. Connie I'm too tall to play unless they can somehow shrink me 10 inches or so. Three out of nine out. I know there are better singers out there to be Diana and Maggie (plus, no matter what you do to me I can not come close to looking Puerto Rican, and no matter how much you train me I can not force myself to be a first soprano with belt). Five out of nine out. Leaves 4: Val, Kristine, Judy and Bebe.... my realistic options) Then for Children of Eden I put down my desired role of Yonah, knowing I had a super small chance of getting that too, but then responded in the affirmative for ensemble... their ensemble is in like 16 numbers, and I love the music, so I would very much so love to do anything in this show.

After looking over my sheet, chuckling again to myself that I put down Fanny Brice, I go to turn it in. Immediately after sitting down again, an older man comes up to me and introduces himself. I immediately recognize the name as the man who will be directing A Chorus Line, who did the broadway choreography and such, but (perhaps stupidly) do not make it known that I know who he is. I smile and say my name. He asks if I will be singing or dancing today. I reply "both". He smiles, says "good" and leaves me be.

First reaction.... Well this is good. The director of A Chorus Line sought me out in a room full of auditioners (auditionees?) to make sure I was auditioning for his show. Definite good start.....

Second reaction.... Singing or dancing? Singing OR dancing? You're never given a choice! You have to do both! Does this mean if you choose to dance at the audition you have to have something prepared? Think back to what it said on playbill.... "Prepare an uptempo and a ballad, be ready to sing just best 16 bars if necessary. If asked, be prepared to dance or read from the script"..... be prepared to dance.... that doesn't say have a dance prepared.... but it also doesn't say be prepared to learn a dance combination..... If you can't tell, I'm getting paranoid. Of course, it never occurs to me to just ask someone what the audition process was. Instead I start running through all of the dances I've done in the past 2 years (that are still somewhat committed to memory), trying to decide what I can do for them... with no music... and without running it beforehand besides envisioning it in my head. All of my choreography, which is freshest in my mind, is too bizarre and doesn't show off anything, and anything older I forgot. I don't really come to a firm decision on what to do when I am called into the audition room. As I'm walking down the hallway to the audition room I decide if it comes down to them just saying "ok, now dance" I will visibly panic, do a double turn, kick once, say I have a flexible back and cringe as they stare at me, expecting more.

So I walk into this tiny tiny room with about 8 people sitting there for casting, and the pianist crammed in the corner. As I walk in some lady gives them my info sheet, resume and "headshot" (prop from A Chorus Line at Wheaton... comes in very useful) and introduces me as "Trisha Carr, who is auditioning for all three shows". The "all three shows" bit causes a kind of gasp on their end. I wouldn't think it that unusual, but apparently it is. Since the lady already introduced me my normal opening audition line is all thrown off and I don't know what to say, especially because they were shuffling through papers, muttering, and not paying the slightest bit of attention to me. So I decide to just make a bad first impression and walk straight over to the pianist to hand over my music. Not knowing if I should do the ballad first or the uptempo, 16 bars or the whole thing, I start to just pull all of the sheet music out as one of the casting people says (reading off my info sheet) "Oh! You've Got Possibilites (song name, not remark about my potential)... good choice". So I guess that means I'm starting with You've Got Possibilities. The one I know I can belt my life away to in real life but have never attempted at an audition because I know my voice always fails me when it comes to power and auditions. I set aside the safe ballad I know I can do well, and go with the risk, all because casting lady says "good choice". Well, I say bad choice. Because after the first note I sang I realized that the nerves were taking over again. I hate it. I don't get nervous for performances... people are there to enjoy. But at auditions their sole purpose is to judge you and critique, and that always gets the better of me. I sound like 2 completely different people at auditions and not. So I struggle. That much is clear. Some notes are okay, but whole picture is NOT. So I end feeling kind of miserable, knowing I've screwed myself over in terms of hoping to get a part in any of the shows, but I don't let it show that I feel this way. I feel more miserable when it is made apparent I will not be singing the other song. Then, Children of Eden man says "will you read me these lines for Yonah?"

First thought: What? He's asking me to read for the part I wanted after I sang like that? He's nuts! Or has pity for me....

Second thought: I don't care, I get to read!

Third thought (upon looking at the script): Panic. First line: "Japeth?". Second line: "No Japeth, it's not right." Do I know how to pronounce Japeth? Just because I've seen the show, I'm Catholic and supposedly "know the Bible" and it's the husband of the character I said I wanted, I'm expected to know how to pronounce it? Well, I can't ASK how to pronounce it! I should know, given it's the part I said I wanted. To not know says I don't care enough to know, I'm unprepared, I'm un-Bibley cultured, I can't read.

Luckily, mid third thought I hear Children of Eden man say to another "Yah-pah-teth" in a funny tone and then chuckle. To me, it's clearly him saying Japeth, and it's just as clearly him mispronouncing it. So I take advantage of the moment and say (in a totally "non-Trisha" way... it was giddy and confident but nervous-- not an oxymoron, think an outspoken, outgoing person asking a question, with no fear of looking stupid, but knowing it's a ridiculous question to ask and they will probably be laughed at).... now I lost track of my original sentence. Right, so I take advantage of the moment and say "Waiiiit, how DO you pronounce it???". Well they loved that. Laughter ensued as they tried to calm the nervous girl by saying "don't listen to him, he's kidding around, the way you know it is right, (for a minute I feared they would stop right there, but they continued...) It's Jay-pith". So I felt better after they thought my question was amusing and I knew how to pronounce it. Worries came up again mid read-through when I realized I could totally be straying from the scene's intentions. It was one of those scenes that could be performed a bunch of different ways.... I went the quiet emotional, contemplative route but halfway through realized it could totally be an angry emotional, stubborn type moment. I hate finding out mid-scene that it can be interpreted differently. And because I only saw the show once I don't remember how it's usually done and there weren't any comments in the script to help me out. So rather than completely change tone mid-scene I kept going with the quiet emotional thing, wishing I had the chance to read it before then and decide if it was the best choice. I always tend to see scenes as quiet emotional first go around.... like that scene from Chorus Line at Wheaton... I was so confused why the director wanted me yelling, because I read it completely differently... then once I did it, I could see it that way too. Anyways... I still don't know if this Children of Eden scene should have been angry.... seeing as I was reading as a female character from the Bible I think probably not, but who knows.

After I do the read through the Chorus Line guy says to me "and you said you would be dancing for us?". Here it is again, panic. Do they expect me to break out in a dance right now? If I say "yes" will they be silent and wait for me to start? So I say (in that same, not me, confident scatterbrained way) "I was under the impression we'd be learning something?" Well, that made off better than the pronounciation comment. They found it downright hilarious. Comments like "That's the best thing I've heard EVER during an audition! Hilarious! This girl's adorable!" came from the 8 with all the power while the pianist played a little jingle as if for me to dance to. They told me yes I'd be learning a combination and continued laughing (with me? at me? at me in a not so bad way?). I said something stupid like "just making sure!" along with an exaggerated "phew!" gesture as I left the room saying thank you. As I left I heard more comments "I LIKE her, she's got spunk, precious, world's best singer". Okay, last one was not said, but the others all were. I thought to myself, hey... if I didn't walk out singing my best at least I made a strong personality impression!

As I'm learning the dance combination some woman comes in, hands me lines and says "they want you to read for Kristine when you go back in". I guess I kind of did portray myself as a Kristine. Or a Judy. Anyways... dance combination, legit original choreography, no changes, even has that ridiculous turn into arabesque into jump turn thing that always terrified me (though now that I've done it I can say it's much less scary than it looks). The evil side of me was very happy that non-dancers would not be able to pull this off (come on, we all have evil thoughts). The punishment for this evil thought was that in my small group of 4 who would be showing the combination to the casting people there was one girl who was CLEARLY the best. I was hoping for the dance part I would at least be able to shine above the others in my small group setting. But no, there was awesome girl. Let's just refer to her as that from now on-- Awesome Girl. Yes, she's a returning character.

So we go in, do the combination a few times, director guy asks if we were all given lines to read or not. Awesome Girl replies in the negative. Well that just won't do, this girl can dance! "Oh no, oh no, you have to read... get her Val's lines". If she wasn't asked to read after singing, why give her Val's lines, one of 3 female characters who has a legit song solo? I'm a horrible person. But at least I know it and am not afraid to admit it. It's one of those things you can think, but shouldn't say outloud. I type it here... essentially the same. Anyways... I read for Kristine. All is wonderful. Then, Funny Girl guy throws me a curve ball. Remember how I said I'd never have to read for Fanny Brice? Well, in a way I was right, but in a very bad way I was wrong. Funny Girl guy must have liked my dancing, or reading of Kristine or something right then and there enough to say to me "Okay, now do me a favor. Read those same lines again but with a thick, New York, Jewish accent".



"I'm sorry, what?"-- internal thought bubble



"Okay!"-- external verablization. Now the worst part of this wasn't reading lines in the accent, it was trying to pull off nervous, forgetful Kristine's lines in a Fanny Brice way.... they could not be more opposite. The accent was just the kicker. Of course, I didn't think to practice the accent beforehand, because who on earth would actually think I was right for this role? But I start... "I mean, I used to watch everything on TV that had dancing on it. Especially, oh... what was it? Um..." except, oh god, it's coming up British. I pause. Hold back a nervous chuckle. Pause for a painful 10 seconds or so, come really close to saying "I'm sorry, I can't do it, I'm just really nervous" (which I only later realized was nearly a word for word quote of Kristine), but decided to continue. I'm glad I did, because then things started sounding right. I channeled my inner Streisand and thank goodness, I'm suddenly sounding like a Jew. I'm thanked and Chorus Line guy asks me to come back tomorrow. Callback.

So fastforward 22.5 hours and I'm back, not knowing what to expect. After sitting around for about 15 minutes some woman says "If you're here for callbacks for ACL and want to go over the dance the assistant choreographer is in the other room and will practice with you". So I get up and go. After running it twice I'm pulled to the front of the room by Assistant man for others to watch. Confidence boost. woot. We run it about 87 times. An hour later Chorus Line guy comes in to watch. We're split into groups of 5. Though I try as hard as possible to avoid it, by standing on the opposite side of the room, I'm in the same group as Awesome Girl. Last thing I want. Of course, after my group he pulls Awesome Girl aside. He ends up pulling 2 others aside too from the rest of the group. They're asked to read. Awesome Girl for Cassie. Obviously. I later found out she's played it twice before... and she's 4 years younger than me.... way too young to play it when it's being cast somewhat by age, but it was clear they were eyeing her for exactly that purpose, and rightly so, given the other people there. I mean, she's Awesome Girl. They get pulled into another room to read. We continue practicing. Assistant man gets fed up and says (paraphrase... I did not memorize his speech) "I know not all of you have danced before and that this has to be a process. I'm willing to teach slowly and will happily give corrections, but if I'm giving the same corrections over and over again and seeing no changes it tells me you're not teachable. In all of you here today there are only two of you who I would say "Hired!" on the spot, that's it. So the rest of you pick it up if you want this". As he said the two of you bit he stared me down. Others turned to look at the source of his stare. It was awkward. Obviously Awesome Girl is person number 2. At this point I'm thinking it's much more community theatre than the pre-professional ideal I was hoping for. In a group of about 30 maybe 6 had dance training... actual training. This wouldn't be the dance busting version of A Chorus Line I was hoping for. In a way I got my wish because I wanted to appear as the second best dancer.... not first best because I did not want any chance of being Cassie again, but second best still gives me a good chance at securing one of the 8 other line members. Another hour later Chorus Line guy comes in and watches us again... different groups, but yes, I'm still with Awesome Girl. Whole time director man is beaming at her. I feel sad. He calls a different set of 4 people to read/sing. Not me. We can all leave now.

So my hopest of hopes is that assistant man has some say, or director man did notice me next to the shine and sparkle of Awesome Girl. I'm trying to convince myself that he loved my reading of Kristine so much that he decided then and there that's who I would be and there was no need for me to read/sing again. One can wish. Now I just wait for the phone call. And I'm not very patient. Watch, I'll be cast as Fanny Brice and not get into Chorus Line. I bet that's what happens.

So, as I mentioned earlier I got cast in the chorus of Funny Girl. I came very close to declining... but since I did not get in Children of Eden at all (the one show I really, really wanted) I decided to do it. Now I'm taking it as a sign, because I found an audition I want to do in July and low and behold the director of that (I found out later) is also the director of Funny Girl. So he will see me in Funny Girl, fall in love with my star quality and I'll get my desired role at July audition. haha. That's MY plan anyway. Plus, I'm actually enjoying Funny Girl more than Chorus Line right now. I'm a happy little ensembler. As I also just said, I am in Chorus Line. Funnily enough the part I got isn't one of the four I mentioned earlier as my only possibilities. Even more funny is that it's probably the one part I should have thought of for myself after I messed up my vocal audition. I got "Larry", Zach's assistant. The part hadn't even crossed my mind even though I figured it would go to a girl. But once I got the phone call I was like "righttt... that makes sense" since Larry has to be a strong dancer and can be a horrible singer... which is what was heard at my audition. I almost said no to Chorus Line also... because I really, really was hoping to be on the line and it was so disappointing that I wasn't... and I was sad that I wouldn't be singing, essentially at all. And it's going fine so far... we've only been dancing and it's a slow process, but enjoyable. And another note, Awesome Girl isn't in either show. I'm convinced she was offered "Larry" first and turned it down. Who knows.