The girls in my family have an inside joke about auditions and performances. I don’t think I even know how it started, but the rule is, if you are asked whether or not you can do something, anything, the answer is yes. Who here can juggle? (raise hand). Back handsprings? Yup. Can you do a triple pirouette? Yes I can. You get the idea.
Well, last Monday I auditioned for Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. (This would be my third time doing this show). The Hale Center Theatre is the only one in the valley that doesn’t perform on Sundays, so even though it is an hour away in traffic, I decided to give it a shot. I got there 10 minutes early and the lobby was full of people and it looked like everyone knew each other, most in dance clothes and stretching out. I was suddenly really glad I wore my stretchy capris.
Anyway, they split us up into 4 groups of 20 and I was in the first group to learn the dance. Then we split up in smaller groups to dance for the director, blah blah blah, moving on. As we sat there after the last small group had danced, the director started asking the girls one by one if they could do the splits. I started to giggle to myself. I was finally going to get the chance to raise my hand and claim I can do something I really can’t! “Raise your hand if you can juggle.” “Who here can do a triple pirouette?” Me! Me! Inside I was thinking I couldn’t do the splits right now if someone held me at gun point, but of course I’m saying I can…until after asking the first 4 girls he says, “I guess I should be having you do these.” Crud! Knot in stomach forms. ….There is no stinking way, I just had a baby! Not to mention I lost all flexibility years ago. He told us we would be doing the splits before the singing portion of the audition.
At this point the 60 other people in the lobby hadn’t done anything yet, so we left the stage and waited while they all learned the dance. During that hour plus, I watched all these other girls stretch out for the splits…..and most of them were real dancers. I did a couple token stretches here and there, pretending like I couldn’t touch my toes because I wasn’t really trying, not because I wasn’t capable, which I wasn’t. When we finally went back in to sing, the choreographer said we would all do the “jump splits” first, then sing our songs. I was about sixth on the list, so I had very little time to think of how to get out of it. (By the way, jump splits are not a toe touch, it means to jump up and then fall into the splits). As a last vain attempt, when my name was called I stood up and said in a joking tone, “I had a baby three months ago, doesn’t that qualify me for a get out of jail free card?” The director and the choreographer both smiled and gave a chuckle…and then the room went quiet and everyone was staring at me. I stared back and waited a second…..
Isn’t anyone going to stop me?
No. So, I shrugged and knowing full well that I would hurt myself jumped up and went down into the splits….all….. the… way …down! Adrenaline is a beautiful thing. I was so shocked I kind of stared at my legs for second, then stood up and tried to act natural. I haven’t done the splits since 2002. It was an audition miracle!
Wednesday callbacks did not have the same magic. After we all did the dance he went around asking if anyone could do special leaps or tricks. The guys did some tumbling, but none of the girls were doing anything, and I DO NOT know what possessed me, but I raised my hand and said I could do a side switch leap. ….probably the most difficult leap I ever did in my dancing days. Why, why did I say that? SO he asked me to do it and I gave it my best shot, the leap was pretty darn good but I landed on my butt. Yes, right on my rear. ( honestly a common way to fall when learning to do that leap, but still). The choreographer said, well, the mechanics are there! Awesome.
Then he split the girls into three groups of seven to read parts and I read the part of Dorkas…..when it got to the part that Millie tells us she’s getting married and we’re supposed to “ad lib” I tried to think of what a hussy would say to that. So I said, “Lucky!” But it came out sounding just like Napoleon Dynamite says it and the director doubled over and laughed out loud for a long time.
As it would turn out, they must have been looking for someone who would try to weasel out of the splits, gracefully fall flat on her butt, and do a good Napoleon Dynamite impersonation, because by some miracle they cast me anyway.
If you’re looking for me, I’ll be at rehearsal.