Get Up Stand Up

In high school, I auditioned for the school musical in a fit of stupidity uncharacteristic bravery.

The school had recently built a fabulous, new auditorium/theater so it seemed logical to have stuff going on it it. (I guess if we did, before then, it happened at other schools? I’m honestly not sure.) Band and chorus, of course, were thrilled, and the chorus teacher was heading up the musical. It was supposed to be Barnum, needing a huge cast, so anyone who wanted was encouraged to try out.

I was going through a serious infatuation with Broadway during those years and thought it would be fun. I wasn’t some aspiring starlet or anything, I just wanted to try. I picked Eponine’s solo, ” On My Own,” from Les Mis and practiced the hell out of it. I knew I wasn’t the best singer in the world, but I also knew that this song needed less theatrics to pull of and more stamina. Stamina I had.

Along with some other chorus students and the chorus teacher there was some big-time muckity-muck in musical theatre and he was to be advising on the performance. Basically, another person to impress.

I won’t say that it was a seamless performance. First, I only brought one copy of the sheet music with me and the pianist (we were required to sing with accompaniment) needed it. And I was supposed to stand away from the piano so this left me singing it by memory. Which, for the most part, wasn’t a problem, only a couple of the verses start the same and I did flub up the order a bit. That wasn’t fun. Finally, after it was all said and done, Mr Muckity-Muck said to me,

“Ah. Patti Lupone.”

But not in a way that said he thought I was anything like her. Only that I was trying to imitate her. But here’s the thing: while Ms. Lupone was, indeed, in Les Miserables, she played Fantine. By the time this song was sung? Fantine was long-dead. Moreover, the recording I had that I based my performance on had Eponine sung by a Japanese girl. And I knew this, and was very confused, but said nothing.

As it turned out, they didn’t have enough people audition to fill the cast of Barnum so they changed it to You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. And I wasn’t cast. Which turned out to be fine since I had so much else going on that I wouldn’t have had the time, anyway. All’s well that ends well, right?

There are a few things I’ve learned from looking back on this incident:

  1. There’s a reason so many things are asked for in triplicate. Having an extra copy of the sheet music certainly would have come in handy. It’s like having all the directions from point A to point B and back again. Because (and this is a different story altogether) retracing your steps doesn’t always work.
  2. Sometimes perseverance isn’t always enough. It counts for a lot, but if you’re persevering in the wrong direction, it’s still the wrong direction.
  3. Human beings make mistakes. I’m not saying I should have called out Mr. Muckety-Muck on his error but I could have. Had I done it, had I spoken up and stood up for myself, maybe I wouldn’t have been so upset by his disregard of me. Anger blows over whereas sadness lingers.

* * *

And that, I think, wraps up what I’ve got to ramble about for the first art: singing. All the songs I’ve referenced this past week and a bit can be found in one handy spot thanks to iTunes’ iMix feature. Enjoy and I’ll be back on Wednesday with Art the second: musical instruments!

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