Monday, October 04, 2010

The First Rehearsal

This is Part #2 in a two-part series of posts about my recent audition/rehearsals. So if you haven't read Part #1, you may want to scroll down and do that first.

I received an e-mail from D asking if I was free to rehearse on Saturday morning, which is one of the regular rehearsal times for the show. I said I was. We were at a new location this time, the Malcolm X public library. It was new to me, so I Google-mapped it. I am learning all about new neighborhoods in this process. And one nice thing about my kindergarten lifestyle is that 9:30 on a Saturday no longer sounds ridiculously early to me.

I arrived at the library--rising orange and pueblo-like from the landscape--just before 9:30, and saw there was a crowd outside (something I found heartening for the future of civilization.) D herself was at the front, nose practically against the glass. She greeted me and whispered that the rehearsal room was "first-come-first serve" and that she'd be sprinting to the sign-up desk once the door opened. I giggled and said I'd hold down the fort. She then whispered that the woman directly behind us in the giant head-scarf was our main competition, and I said I'd keep an eye on her. We were joined by Brianna just before the doors opened. I was very glad to see her again. She's really nice, and we have some stuff in common. She went to UCSD, and is also married to an engineer (though doesn't seem much older than 22.) Brianna already knew the drill with the room, so when the doors opened, I just jogged after her.

We made it, but Head-Scarf Lady knocked immediately after and said the room was hers at 11:30 so "we should prepare ourselves." This elicited some giggles from Bri and me, but D was cool and serene. I'm beginning to see that she is usually like that. The room had a table with four chairs, and D invited us to sit. She frowned at her watch, because another cast member whom I'll call G was a bit late. While we waited, D explained that she's an up-front kind of person, and that I'll always know where I stand with her. She said she wanted me to know this, because she was on the fence about me in this particular sketch (it was the same one I auditioned with the first time, about the (as Aunt Lolo so eloquently put it) "wee willies." She said she wasn't pleased how slow I was to pick up choreography the last time, and she'd be watching me today. I nodded and said I understood. Then she smiled and said I could ask Bri for help, since she is very quick to learn choreography. Bri smiled and said she'd be happy to help.

G showed up soon after, looking like a million bucks. She's about six feet tall with giraffe-like legs, shown to great advantage in a teeny-tiny skirt, long hair, and lips like fuschia pillows. I remembered her from my first audition (she was the one observing us in the second half) but this time she was gussied up. We gathered around the table and D sang us through the song a couple times. It was much longer than the piece I first saw, and was preceded by a spoken scene that makes it even funnier. It quickly became clear that G was the main singer and that Bri and I would be backing her up.

G was struggling a bit to find the downbeat. She had my full sympathy. Trying to learn a song with irregular beats without instrumentation is incredibly hard. We sang it through a few times and Bri and I were mostly on cue with the back-up vocals. I thought we sounded nice. But D was getting a bit impatient. She doesn't yell, but she is clear in her feedback. She will stop you without hesitation, saying "NO. THAT IS WRONG." It's nerve-wracking. After a while, there was a short silence. Then D said:

"Here's what we're going to do. (she pointed at me) I'm going to let you try this part, about three times. If you don't get it, I'm going to let Bri try it three times" (Bri grinned and called out cheerfully, "I'm a last resort, trust me!" I kind of love that girl--she has such a great attitude.) But we're going to start with you. You get three tries. (pause) But no pressure."

Readers, I wish I could tell you that I opened my mouth and nailed it. Not even close. The first couple of times, I couldn't get past the first line without totally blowing it. She told me to watch her hands, and something about rising on the second word, yada yada, but I was getting more and more nervous and agonized and sweaty-palmed and dry-mouthed. I kept apologizing and laughing and lets just say she gave me a bunch more than three tries.

What finally turned things around was Brianna. She suggested I get up and walk through the choreography (which I did sort of remember) to help with the beats. It's true that I think in dance language, and something about moving around also put my voice at ease. Suddenly, I was kind of getting it. She let me sing it through, the whole four verses, without stopping me. I looked up. D was smiling. "That," she said, "was pretty good. Not great. But pretty good considering you've never done it before."

I felt awesome. But what happened next still surprised me. There was another long pause, and then D asked if I could do accents. "Sure," I said. "How about a southern accent?" "Um, yeah," I said. Later I sort of kicked myself that I didn't just say something in a southern accent. She asked me to turn to the dialogue part of the scene and try it. G, who was supposed to be playing this character, helpfully offered to read the male part. I was sort of squinting at her, wondering if this was bothering her at all, but she seemed perfectly agreeable. Hmmm. I read the part, which lead into a sort of slow, ramped-up bit of singing that became the song. That part was particularly fun for me--so dramatic.

Next thing I know, D is briskly noting that it's time for me to go, and that there's just enough time to work on choreography with the other two. "This is good," she explained. "You'll be the singer, and that way you don't have to learn any choreography. Since you're slow at that. The other two will be dancing while you sing and work the audience." I nodded eagerly, even though a tiny part of me was thinking hey, I'm not THAT slow. I teach dance, after all. But when I reflected later, I thought maybe I could re-see the situation in one of two ways. One, I had plenty of time to prove her wrong about my ability to learn choreography, in other numbers. And two, it's possible that her statement was a bit of spin to make it seem that all the pieces fell where they were supposed to, even though I had somehow just snatched G's part out from right under her nose.

Before I left, she had me sign a contract. That's right, I'm actually getting paid for this show, so there are rules. One of them is that I won't show or discuss the script, which is why I'm being a bit circumspect about the details here. But mostly it seemed like a friendly contract, and it's sort of exciting to have one.

Last night I got my schedule for this week, and I am definitely rehearsing Tuesday and Thursday, and just heard I'm on for Wednesday, too. It's also clear I'll be auditioning again, probably more than once. Luckily, I'm an old hand at that now.


Anonymous said...

Your audition/theater stories are so fun to read! Looking forward to more.


Mary said...

Wow! Sounds like your hard work and your talent are paying off! You do have a fantastic voice!

So proud!