Tuesday, July 08, 2008

I hope I get it...

Another weekend jaunt had me on the train to New York with no set destination in mind. I let my gut draw me to the Theater District. I'd figure out what show to see when I got there.

It had been a while since I'd seen a Broadway show. I think the last time was in September 2001, when my friend Ingrid took me to see Chicago for my birthday. Just three weeks after the attacks, New York felt very fragile, and the usually mundane hop into Manhattan felt like an act of bravery.

Regardless of the circumstances, stepping into a Broadway theater always brings nostalgia and a sense of unrealized ambition to me. For a time in adolescence, I'd wanted to be a stage actress, and I can't help but identify a little with the actors, singers and dancers in the shows. How incredible must they feel, to have realized their dreams!

These days, there seems to be a wealth of good shows to choose from, and with the revival of A Chorus Line closing in five weeks, it seemed like the logical choice. Despite the legendary 15-year run of the original production and the supposed parallel to my own ambitions at the time, I hadn't seen it.

The opening minutes of the show's audition scenario brought me back to a forgotten episode of my life. My junior high school acting-fever days coincided with the first few years of the show's original run, and my friend Heather shared my desire to be on stage. She was an avid Backstage reader, especially the back pages where the open call notices were printed.

One night she called me to report that A Chorus Line was having an open call that weekend, Actors Equity card not necessary. Did I want to go with her? The New York bus stopped on her corner and went almost directly to the Port Authority Bus Terminal, just a few blocks from Times Square and the audition studio. It was that easy.

Every concern I brought up was answered: Uh, I can't dance. "That's okay, they show you the steps before the audition. You can follow everyone else." Don't you need a resume and a headshot? "You were in the Summer Music School production of Oklahoma! That counts for something! And you can bring your yearbook picture." Well, okay, let me see if I can go.

My mom blew a gasket when I asked. She'd denied many more reasonable requests; this one was the Triple Crown winner of the bad judgement derby.
  • Take the bus with your friend from school? (I don't know her mother -- she must be evil!)
  • To the Port Authority? (and this was before it was cleaned up)
  • Walk through Times Square? (This was Travis Bickle's Times Square, not Disney's)
Needless to say, I didn't go, even though Heather suggested ways we could get to the city and back without Mom knowing. After some initial pouting, I wasn't all that broken up about it. It just didn't make sense to me to audition for a singing/dancing role I didn't have the skills for. I knew what I was good at, and I knew my limitations.

My memory is a bit hazy, but I'm pretty sure that Heather went. Naturally she didn't get a part -- she was only 14 and didn't have the singing or the dancing -- but I give her credit for getting that far. Sometimes you do have to go for it.

Myself, I'd rather have the character shoes and the headshot first, thanks.

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