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Thursday, April 8, 2004 01:10 am

Grace about town 4-8-04

Hold that fast food

Last week I wrote about my Springfield Municipal Opera experiences and the fact that I just auditioned for A Chorus Line. I wanted the part of Kristine, the role I played when it was produced at the Theatre Centre a while back.

Kristine sings a funny song about the fact that she can't sing. My singing isn't quite as bad as the character's -- I can carry a tune, but that's where my musicality ends. I'm mostly known for my funny voice. My sister, Amy, has a fabulous voice. She sang jazz for a while, then started a disco band. One of my regrets in life is that I never got to see her band perform. People think Amy and I sound just alike on the phone, but the similarity mysteriously ends when the talking is replaced by singing.

The audition took place at the new Springfield Center for the Arts, which is a wonderful place. The experience was fairly draining. First there was the dancing: In the morning, we were crowded into a third-floor room. It felt like it was about 100 degrees in there. The turnout was enormous, with more than 100 dancers. We were arranged in lines of 10, and the girl next to me kept kicking me, and I kept kicking her, and at one point I wondered whether they'd take me somewhere cool if I fainted.

I tried to learn the simple dance, but my brain was having none of it. Things slid right out of my head as we repeated the number over and over. Finally we were through. Everyone auditioning for AChorus Line had to learn a short tap number, which cheered me up. I hadn't tapped in a million years, but it was a piece of cake. I showed off, gloating at the fact that not only did I know what a stomp-time step was and how to perfectly execute it but that it was fun.

Vocal auditions were held in the afternoon. This part of an audition usually causes me anxiety, but this time wasn't bad. I sang the song from the play, and it was really speaking instead of singing, so it went fine.

But when I finished and people clapped, one of the co-directors, Doug, said, "Be here tomorrow for a callback. Wear a leotard and tights."

"We're going to dance?" I asked. Yep, more dancing. Leotard and tights. Good grief.

I had planned on going out and eating a big cheeseburger on Saturday night, but instead I raced around trying to find a leotard. I used to have lots of them, but I haven't had any reason to own one for quite a while. Fortunately, Mom has three. One of them was actually mine a long time ago, and it didn't look completely hideous.

But there was still the thought of a lot more dancing. I started having my doubts about the whole business.

Sunday, I was full of determination. I did get called back, after all; many talented people who had auditioned didn't get called back. I walked into the theater, and it was filled with waifish twentysomethings, all of whom used to be in the Springfield Ballet Company, are still in it or look as if they should be in it.

Gary, the other co-director, quickly taught us the first part of the show's opening number. I wasn't completely horrible -- I didn't actually fall down. But compared with these dancers, I was bad. There was one tall, cheerful-looking guy who was as lost as I was, especially when we got to the ballet portion of the dance. Gary said, "We'll start with a ron de jom followed by three engleterres, a tournée flambeau and a plea de blah-blah-blah." The tall guy and I grinned at each other, with no idea of what he'd just told us.

The ballet wasn't so bad, mostly because I amused myself trying to look ballerinalike, with little jumps across the floor and swooping arm movements. I felt as if I was in a Saturday Night Live sketch about a particularly bad ballerina.

Finally it was over. Whew. I decided that if I didn't get in, I wouldn't be crushed. If I did get in, it would be a whole lot of work. I'm sure I'd get much closer to the ideal weight I achieved when I was 16, but I'd spend many lovely summer nights sweating in a rehearsal hall. But then there'd be the excitement of being up on the Muni stage again. But it would be eight and a half weeks of rehearsal.

Sunday evening, I was exhausted. I made my family a big Mexican meal, and when I wasn't cooking, they made me demonstrate the dance. It didn't seem quite as hard as it'd been during the afternoon, now that the pressure was off.

I went to bed and didn't sleep a lot.

I didn't get in. To be perfectly honest, I felt relieved. I'm going to enjoy going to the show and watching the talented dancers (who will have worked long and hard). I'm glad I auditioned, but I'm also glad I didn't get the part.

There are always more plays next year. And maybe there'll be a comedy to audition for in the winter, one that involves no singing or dancing -- or maybe I'll write myself a one-woman show.

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