Where the inside of my mind leaks onto the screen.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

How To Get The Part You Really Want

I'm apologizing right up front.  This is going to get long.  There's just a lot of back story and detail and... well, here goes.

Maybe I should start with that I love Into the Woods.  A lot of musical theater people do, but I loved Into the Woods long before I loved musicals at all.  I remember when we lived in Kearns (so I was younger than 11), a member of our ward lent us a VHS copy of the Broadway movie with Burnadette Peters.  We watched it with my parents once.  Mom made us fastforward through that part of the 2nd act.  I looked up words like "deleterious."  I watched the 1st act over and over and over again with my sisters almost every weekend.  I memorized the "greens song."  I marvelled at the witch's costume change at the end of the 1st act.  My parents started quoting the show in every day conversation.

Sidenote: Just yesterday, my sister closed on a house and got her broken car fixed.  When she told my dad, he said, with perfect ITW inflection, "You've the house and the car..."  (a "We've the cow and the cape" reference, if you didn't get it.)

I don't know how many times, when one of us was whining, my mom said, "The cow is gone... get it back... GET IT BACK!"  Or, when he'd done something a little insensitive, my dad resorted to, "I was raised to be charming, not sincere."  When something had gone wrong but there was really nothing anyone could do to make the situation better, "Worrying... will do you no good."

As fun as the jokes still are, my mom used the show to point out some really great principles.  I know one of her favorite songs is "Children Will Listen," and, as a school teacher and mother, she has always used her own example as a force for good.  And the overall theme, that it's your choices - not your wishes - which determine your destiny ("Some of us don't like the way you've been telling it...") is a lesson I intend to pass on to my own children.

Anyway... I love Into the Woods.  Once I started actually doing musicals, Into the Woods became a "dream show" for me with two "dream roles."

Someday, I want to play the Baker's Wife.  Her song about how the end justifies the beans has always always humored me, and let's face it... she gets to kiss a prince.  Someday, hopefully, I will get that chance. 

But right now, I want to play Little Red Riding Hood.  Self-centered, spunky, likes to eat, just barely thoughtful enough to not be completely annoying... yep, that's a role I can relate to.  And since she is one of the two "kids" in the show (generally played by youngish looking adults), I feel like my years to be able to play that role are coming to an end.

So when I heard Taylorsville Arts Council is putting on Into the Woods this summer, I sent Kirk a text.

Me: "So... Taylorsville is doing Into the Woods."
Kirk: "And..."
Me: "And I need you to tell me, 'No, you can't audition.  You've already done two shows this year.'"
Kirk: "But it's Into the Woods.  You know I'll support you if you choose to audition."

We decided I would audition, but that I would only do the show if they offered Little Red.

So audition, I did.  I was really sick, and it didn't go well.  But I made callbacks and was feeling better and ready to redeem myself.  And redeem myself, I did.  Callbacks went great (a long part of the story which I will spare you) but I resigned myself to the fact that I likely wouldn't get Little Red. 

And then I didn't get called at all.  Weird.

Whatever.  I guess I didn't make it.  I really didn't have time anyway...

Then Tuesday I got a call.  Apparently they fired the director on Friday, hired a new director on Monday, and needed to reaudition. 

I'm not sure why exactly, but I decided not to reaudition.  Maybe I just didn't want to deal with the letdown again.  I wasn't all that impressed by the first auditions, and I was kind of excited about having my nights in July free, and it just seemed ok to not audition.  I'd already tried, right?

So I told Kirk about the phonecall and about my decision, and he looked at me like I was crazy.  "But it's Into the Woods..." he said, as he proceeded to convince me to reaudition after all.  He had an answer for my every insecurity, and even Adam jumped on the bandwagon and lent his support to the idea of me going for it.

So yesterday, I got all dressed up, again.  I curled my hair and fretted about making sure I looked no older than 23 - tops, again.  I practiced my song, drove to the auditions, walked nervously up the stairs, again

And here's where the real story begins:

(even if you have to beg for it)

I had intended to show up at the start of auditions, be one of the first to sing, and leave.  But when I got there ten minutes later than I'd planned, the room was full of what appeared to be anxious auditioners.  I found out that apparently the audition accompanist wasn't there, so auditions hadn't even started.  Seeing an opportunity to offer my services (and maybe set myself apart a bit), I walked into the audition room, introduced myself, and asked if they'd like for me to play for the auditions.  Relieved, they accepted my offer.

I sat at the piano and played for the first auditioner.  At the risk of sounding conceited, I will tell you: I am an awesome audition accompanist.  I sight read ridiculously well, and I'm familiar with enough musical theater that it's pretty rare for someone to bring me something I've never heard.  Even when they do, (my favorite unknown of last night was "Lost in the Wilderness" from Children of Eden) I do just fine.  So, of course, my piano playing impressed the director and production staff.  In fact, it impressed the accompanist (who arrived as I was playing the first song) so much that he begged to not have to play after me, and I ended up playing for the remainder of auditions.

When the room had finally cleared and I was the only auditioner left, I looked to the accompanist and said, "So are you going to play for me?"  He shook his head no, explained that he didn't want to mess up my audition, and announced, "I think she should play for herself."

Normally this is a bad idea, but I had developed enough rapport with the director to know I could pull it off.  I turned the piano so she could see my face, stood while I played, and nailed my audition song.  ("My New Philosophy" from You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown)

The director looked at me and said, "I love you.  Just so you know, I'm going to cast you in this show.  I don't know as what, but I am going to cast you."

I smiled, took a deep breath, and responded, "Thank you so much.  But just so you know, if you offer me anything other than Little Red, I will turn you down."

Shocked, she answered, "But Little Red isn't even that great of a part.  Why that part?"

I explained all my reasons: I've always wanted to play Little Red, I'm 29 [insert shocked reactions here] and can only play Little Red for so much longer, I really don't have time to do a show right now and no other part or other play would be worth it.

She said, "I'm sorry, but you're just too skinny for Little Red.  I've always imagined Little Red as a cute, chunky little brat."

"I understand that, but Little Red doesn't have to be skinny!  Skinny girls eat, too!" I answered.

"I know," she said.  "I get that, but..."

"I can convince you," I said.

"Okay... convince me."

"Okay... give me the score."  And I grabbed the piano vocal score and accompanied myself on Little Red's solo, "I Know Things Now."  I put all sorts of character into it.  She stopped me after only one verse.

"Okay," she started.  "Now do it in cut time."

So I did it twice as fast.  More frenzied.  More confused.  Less pensive.  She let me finish all the way to the end.  She looked at me in a way that let me know she was so. close.

"I can skip!" I said.  She'd had some of the earlier auditioners skip.  Without waiting for permission, I stepped from around the piano, skipped across the room with all sorts of snotty little girl attitude, stopped, turned, gathered up all my snottiness again, and skipped back. 

Everyone else in the room looked at the director as if to say, "See... she can do this.  So what if she's skinny!"

The director responded with, "Well, she certainly does skip like a bitch."  (Apparently another quality she sees in Little Red.)

"Yes!" I said.  "I can definitely pull that off."


"You play the piano really well."

"Thank you."

"If we do end up casting you, do you think you can kind of half-and-half it and help us out on piano some."

At this point, I'm practically on my knees with my hands clasped in front of me.  "If you give me Little Red, I will do anything you want."

"Okay.  You're Little Red."

Maybe it's a little weird to be excited about a part I begged for.  But I am.  If I hadn't begged, she'd still have cast me.  She loved me.  But I would have missed out on playing a dream role just because I'm skinny.

Best audition ever?  "Possible.  Very, very possible."


Unknown said...

Congrats!!! That's an awesome story and you really were great at accompanying everyone!

Brigham said...

I think you are awesome!!!

Sarah said...

Congrats! So wonderful that you could slide right in and help them at the piano...they owed you a part...but to recognized aloud how much she enjoyed you and then give you your DREAM part is wonderful!

I have to admit, I know nothing more about "Into the Woods" than having heard its title, have friends who love it, and listened to a few songs in passing...but I should come and see it. When you mention "act 2's part" would it be too questionable to bring Meg to? Hmmm, let me know. Maybe I'll make it into your audience this time. I'd like to. :)

Kris said...

Way to go Andrea! And two thumbs up to your AMAZING husband for encouraging you to reaudition. Go Kirk for being so supportive!

Miss Megan said...

Hi! It's me (Cinderella)! I'm glad I found your blog -- this post is hilarious! I can't wait to start working on our stuff in the second Act together. Meanwhile, thank you for your infinite patience while teaching me my Act I stuff. You rock, Andrea!

Rosie said...

This makes me very happy. Proud of ya andrea! I am way excited to come see it! When does it run?

Logan Gifford said...

I absolutely love everything about this story. All of it.