The first audition I ever did was in 1981. We had just moved to Texas, and my teacher had heard that a kids television program was looking for talent. She told my mother, and two weeks later we were in a production studio where I sang my little heart out to three casting directors, whose faces I couldn’t even see for the lights in my eyes. I debuted on Kidzone a few months later, singing Tomorrow, from Annie.
Several really neat things happened because of that show. First, we met Mary, who owned a fabric store. Mary refitted and drew part of a pattern for my mother to work with, to make my costume. I ended up babysitting her kids for over a decade, and volunteering in her husband’s Teen Jury program for the same length of time.
I also got to make my first studio recording, learned to sing along with a track, and learned to work with a live musician to create the sound I wanted. Mom found a pianist at a nearby university, who brought me in with my sheet music and worked with me to sound less like Andrea McArdle, and more like Lane Morris.
And, of course there was the little thing of getting to be on television, doing something I loved to do. Which was to stand perfectly still and belt out a song. Zero stage presence with this one at that age. I also learned about Blue Laws, which had prevented us from purchasing the requisite knee socks for my costume, on our way to the studio. I wore bobby socks instead.
Four years, a considerable amount of stage and a tv series later, I would finally get an agent–who is still a family friend.
It’s been 32 years and lord knows how many go-sees since that first audition. I still love to sing. I still have really awkward stage presence when I am singing. But neither the shower tiles, nor my myriad of shampoo bottles have ever complained, and people still pay me to do it, now and then.
Most memorable audition ever? The one where I stepped in dog poop wearing cloth shoes as I was getting out of my car, couldn’t clean it off, and decided to walk into the audition with bare feet. I might have been able to play it off as bohemian chic (since it was for a very boho production) and swung it, but as I walked swiftly toward what I thought was an open door, I caught sight of several NO!-faces just before I slammed, face first into a glass wall. I did that audition with a bruise forming in the center of my forehead, no shoes, and a red face.
I did not get the part. I did learn another life lesson about holding your head high and doing your job no matter what you’ve stepped, or walked into.
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