Wednesday, February 23, 2011

My (brief) musical theater career

When I was about 9 I attended a fine arts summer camp in Blue Lake, Michigan This was one of many early signals that I would never become prom queen.  I was intensely curious about summer camp at that age.   I had read every book concerning sleep away camps at my local library in preparation.   These were actually pretty shitty books.  But I needed a way to vicariously get my fix until the day I arrived in Michigan I read the Blue Lake brochure approximately 400 times and could recite, word for word, the litany of amenities and programs the camp had to offer.   Picture cabins in the woods full of band geeks, acapella singers and soon-to-be-unemployed thespians.

I went to camp with my best childhood friend.  She was a ridiculously talented pianist and I fancied myself as a ridiculously talented actress.  We signed up for our respective crafts, piled into her family station wagon and headed north.  Leaving the bubble of Chicago can take forever – partially because of the distance and partially because staring out a car window at rows of corn makes the trip SEEM longer.  In those long trips, you almost wish a knife wielding bum would jump in front of your car – just to stir some action in the front seat. 

I arrived in Michigan, ready to reach the heights of pre-teen theater.    The first thing you do when you get out of the car (besides change into a cult-like blue uniform and write your name on everything you own) is to head to auditions.  This is where the wheat would be separated from the chafe.  I had vigorously prepared my monologue for weeks and was ready to dazzle my camp leaders.  I grabbed my map of the woods and skipped excitedly to the audition stage.  And since this was the Midwest, where cheese and land are in abundance, it was actually pretty fucking confusing to figure out where I needed to go.  When I arrived (I think about 20 minutes late), I saw a group of about 20 kids singing and dancing on stage.

Shit! I thought.

There were two options for Blue Lake theater campers – musical theater or contemporary acting.  I *thought* I had chosen the summer session for contemporary acting (given my limited singing and dancing abilities, this was the right choice).  I watched the sea of bodies move in choreographed motion and wanted to cry.  I suddenly realized that I had signed up for the wrong session – musical theater was my future.   And apparently I was late to the audition because I was the only one who had missed the choreography session.  So I dug deep into the pit of my competitive soul and decided I needed to leap on stage (literally!) and make the most of things. 

I sashayed into the middle of the stage to show the director that I was fearless.  I watched the group and mimicked their movement.  A tall blonde boy started the chorus and the rest chimed in.  I hummed along loudly and gave a big flashy smile.  I added my own flair to the dance with dramatic dips and spins.  I think I attempted to break out into an impromptu solo to show off my voice.

The Director moved towards the stage and was staring directly at me.  Clearly, he had an eye for talent.  He stopped the action and asked me what I was doing. 

I stammered “Sorry, I was late.  We were stuck in rows of corn.”

The Director looked bewildered.  “I’m sorry about your traffic but we’re in rehearsal here for Guys and Dolls and we need our stage.”

“Isn’t this the Blue Lake theater audition?” I asked.

“No, we’re the Mid Michigan Theater Troupe.”



  1. What a shame this isn't a route you pursued... I could totally see you in the cast of Glee.

  2. Hi, I'm stopping over from 20SB!
    Yikes! It's stories like this that keep me from being more outgoing. I would not ever want anything like that to happen to me.

  3. That is hilarious! I can just see you hopping in the middle of an audition and clumsily trying to follow the choreography. Too funny!