Thursday, June 09, 2011

Summer Theater and Me

I am trying to remember what first planted the idea into my head.

A couple months ago, we were back in our old stomping grounds at a musical production of Alice in Wonderland.  An old friend, a dad, whose wife died of cancer a little over three years ago, told me that he was doing well, considering, and he had recently been in a musical himself.  He and his son had tried out together and his son was cut, but he decided to do it anyway.  He thought it might be good to have some fun, he said, after three years of the single dad/grieving widower thing.  And he'd had a blast.

I know that the thought had already crossed my mind before this conversation.  But it kind of teased a thought out into the open:  Why don't I audition for a summer production?

I love having my kids involved in theater.  I loved my last session of teaching Drama 1.  I have very little to look forward to this summer.  Why not step outside my comfort zone, do something new and different, and gain a little personal experience?

I've been in two other musicals.  One was in 1983, my senior year of high school, when we did The Wiz.  That's the Diana Ross version of The Wizard of Oz, and it was probably really hilarious to see us very white hayseed small-town teens trying to groove our way down the Yellow Brick Road.  I was in the chorus and had a lot of trouble learning the dances, I think.  I have the impression that the choreographer gave up on me.

My second time was four years ago, when our whole family was in a community theater production of Narnia, the Musical.  I was Mrs. Macready, the no-nonsense housekeeper.  She's in the first and last scenes only, which was fine with me.  And she don't dance.

Our wonderful director of Robin Hood is directing a community theater production of Bye Bye Birdie this summer, so I initially thought of auditioning for it. I would have loved to have her for a director!  It was a long commute to rehearsals though; they were twice a week, and there were two weekends of performances.  It seemed like a lot of time, especially if no one else in my family was doing it with me.  My younger three would all have been interested, but only age 14 and up could audition.

I was praying about it and leaning toward doing it if Papa Rooster would give his blessing, when I heard about another production, closer to home, of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.  It would be less than half the commute, half the gas expense, half the rehearsal time and half the number of performances--and Chicklet8 and B6 could audition too.  That clinched it, PR agreed.

Auditions were just three days later, so I had to quickly memorize 32 bars of a song and put a little movement and expression into it while singing--quite a nerve-wracking task!  It was hard to think about note placement and foot placement at the same time, without forgetting about facial expression, proper breathing and singing the right verse of my song ("I Get A Kick Out of You" from Anything Goes).

Meanwhile, Chicklet8 pulled out her last audition ("Do-Re-Mi"), blew off the dust and was ready to go. Unbelievable.

B6 had never auditioned for a show before, but he knew a verse and a chorus of the Oompa Loompa song and we figured that would work.  It wasn't like there was a role he was going for; we knew he and Chicklet would be in the Kids' Chorus, if it appeared they both could sing.  For me, I couldn't imagine what else I would be besides one of Joseph's brothers' wives?  Or would there be another small chorus part?  The Narrator has to be a great vocalist, and no, surely they would not see me as Mrs. Potiphar.  What if not enough men/boys tried out and they needed some women to be Brothers? I thought that might be fun, but it would be tough to sing that low for a whole show....

Both the kids did well, and my one minute on stage passed quickly.  To my surprise, I was told I was called back.  I had not thought about this or known when callbacks were, and I would have to rearrange Sunday afternoon plans to make it.  I was also told that at call backs, I would take part in a dance audition.

Oh dear.

I texted Blondechick:  I got a callback!  She texted back:  It is so weird, ME hearing that from YOU.  Go Mama!

At callbacks, I was delighted to recognize many faces I knew--mostly teens from two chapters of our Christian youth theater group, who were surprised to see me, instead of my kids, at the audition.  There were two women my age, both friends of mine, with kids also trying out; I knew about one, and the other was a pleasant surprise.  Her husband was there too, and one other dad.  It looked like there were nearly enough tallish males to be Joseph's 11 brothers.

We women had to learn a page from one of the Narrator's songs, and then each one of us had to sing it--expressively--alone, in front of the group.  Then we had to go learn about 16 bars of a dance, and sit and wait while the men sang.  I went over and over the dance steps in my mind while the men sang "Close Every Door"--step, turn, turn, drop, knee, snap, snap, snap, pivot turn, kick, step--and when it was my group's turn to run through it again once more, and then do it for real...I did okay.  I have no idea how it looked, but I wasn't lost.  And my singing/acting attempt was not bad, it seemed.  So I was pleased!

Then we drove home to wait for the cast list. I am usually as anxious and impatient as my kids are, when they have auditioned--and it may actually have been a tad easier to wait on my own fate than it usually is to wait on theirs.  We only had to wait hours, though, compared to their usual 24 or so, so it wasn't quite the same.

...And there is my name!  I'm a Wife!  One of my friends is also a Wife, but she's Jacob's wife, it says--ah, her husband is Jacob.  All the other wives are under 20, I note.  I must be Reuben's wife, I'll bet--he's the oldest Brother--and ah, Reuben will be played by one of the dads--oh, Mrs. Potiphar's dad, I see--and the only Brother out of his teens.  My other friend is the Baker, and her daughter is the Narrator--whoopee!--and one of my other young friends is Joseph!  Oh, oh, and both Chicklet and B6 are listed there in the Kids' Chorus!  B6 made it!

And that's the end of my tale, for now.  Rehearsals don't start for two weeks, and I am impatient to start learning songs and coaching B6 and Chicklet.  I'm even eager to begin learning dance steps!  Now I'm a little sorry that there is only one rehearsal a week.  I'm nervous...and excited....  Mostly excited!


Heather said...

How fun! Our local theater group hardly ever does musicals, which is the only theater genre I like.
I must now go listen to the Joseph soundtrack again :)

At A Hen's Pace said...

Heather, it's my favorite genre too! And we own the soundtrack too. ;)


Debbie said...

I'm sure you'll be great, Jeanne! Wish I could come watch!

Moyra said...

Have fun!!

I love "Joseph" having been involved (as a pianist) in two productions, and sung in it several times.