Friday, April 27, 2007

Brandi's post about her audition

The most nerve-wracking and desperate hours of all are those leading up to an audition. Especially so when you're just out of high school, trying to enter professional theatre for the first time. No one could possibly understand how this feels unless they've done it before. But alas, I must again attempt to demonstrate it to you, with a story.

The day of the audition has arrived. Beauty and the Beast, Brandi's favorite Disney musical, is the show she's auditioning for, after failing to make it into SRT's production of Aladdin. Absolutely nothing is going right, which is almost to be expected.

Audition is in the morning of a fine and sunny day, the air clean from the rains that had fallen ceaselessly the day before. The time slot is 10:30AM, and Brandi is watching the clock, trying not to get too nervous. She eats her breakfast of Corn Pops faithfully, setting the bowl in the sink and rushing off to grab everything she needs: keys, cell, water, gas. There's no monologue required for the audition, so she didn't need to memorize one, and preparation was at a minimum.

Thinking she was prepared ahead of time, Brandi and her mother set off for the playhouse on Sixth Street.

Halfway there, Brandi remembers the thing she'd forgotten: sheet music.

Her face reveals her panic, and she turns off the freeway, glancing at the clock to reveal she's already hopelessly late. She voices this thought aloud, her heart dropping in her chest. What kind of impression is she doomed to give?

"Pull over." Brenda motions Brandi over to the side of Roberts Lake Road, opening her door and calling for a chinese fire drill. Confused, but willing to acquiese, Brandi runs out of the car, making her way to the passenger side just as Brenda tries for the driver's door. In a piece of unwitting comedy, they run into each other in the middle of their rush, and laugh nervously as seatbelts are buckled and open doors closed.

"I don't want you to get a speeding ticket." Brenda's only warning to her young daughter as suddenly, the gas pedal is floored, and they're off on a race reminiscent of Brenda's days at Petaluma Speedway. Holding on to the door handle, her knuckles white, Brandi pushes her foot to the floor as if she could psychicly touch the brake and make the madness stop, but she doesn't say anything as she watches for pedestrians and, more importantly, policemen.

Blessedly, they make it home without being stopped, their only obstacle the cars around them that insist on following the law; who ever heard of such nonsense? But they arrive back where they started, and Brandi runs out of the car, up to her room to fetch the papers laying, ready, on her desk. She's tempted to either laugh at her own stupidity or lay down and cry, but she does neither and makes her hasty way back to the awaiting vehicle, music clutched in her icy hands.

Another race through the streets of Santa Rosa ensues, as Brandi tries to use the technology available to her. The cell phone comes in use as she calls Caitlyn, the only person she knows is also auditioning that day. Caitlyn is already at the playhouse, and ensures Brandi that when it is her time to audition, she'll make it known to the director and whomever else is in attendance that Brandi will be there. She's only late. Car trouble.

After getting lost one too many times, Brenda and Brandi finally find the playhouse, located in an upgraded warehouse off West Sixth. They park in the abandoned parking lot, and get out of the car to see Caitlyn and her mother already there, and still waiting. Confused, Brandi and Brenda get out of the car.

"No one's here."

The statement is obviously true, as the only two cars in the lot are the blue Blazer Brandi and her mother arrived in, and the white car that belonged to Caitlyn. After a few furtive moments of analysis, Brandi remembers the people she'd seen on the side of the building, and she and Caitlyn make their hurried way to investigate.

The man and woman sitting outside the back door of the dance studio are merely renters, and they know nothing of the audition Brandi and Caitlyn are at this moment missing. Discouraged, they return to the front of the building, and Brandi gets a sudden revelation: the auditions are at night.

"I makes sense now. I remember the e-mail saying PM, not AM, and it is an adult company. Most of the people probably have to work in the morning." She shakes her head at her own stupidity, and Caitlyn, Brandi, and their mothers commence to speak at length about all manner of things: The Grimmerie, Le Roi Soleil, auditions and theatre in general. Agreeing to meet back at the dance studio twelve hours later, they seperate, Brandi to shop for her prom dress, and Caitlyn to prepare her rhetoric speech.

Brandi's relaxed at the realization that she is not late, she's early, completely so, and so she and her mother leave to attend to other, more pressing matters (see Prom Vol I).

But the hours pass, and Brandi's nerves are wound up so much she can barely sit still. With nothing to distract her and the thought of food sickening, she becomes more and more distraught as the clock ticks slowly past nine. Her fingers shake with anxiety, and the computer screen glares condescendingly back at her. Every sound is a vicious murmur, an annoying distraction when she desperately needs to relax, to calm, to stop shaking.

Finally, ten minutes to 9:45PM, when she and her mother are to leave, Brandi goes into her iTunes folder and clicks on a song title: "Your Daddy's Son," sung by Audra McDonald. For the first time she just listens, trying to absorb the sound. She resists humming or singing along, desperate to try and get it right. This is where I breathe. This is where I belt it And then something interrupts her trance.

"I like your singing better." What? Brenda's comment may be idle, just a statement of fact, but Brandi is shocked by it. Who could like her singing better than Audra McDonald? Audra was made to sing the song! She's professional. Brandi's just a teenager trying to be an actress with nothing more than a few crap theatre classes and high school productions to her name. But she doesn't question it. It would be pointless. Instead, she lets her mother's words fill her, and try to calm the rapid beating of her heart and the sour acidity of her stomach as they both go to the car, Heather, Curtis and Justin crying Good Luck! and Break a leg! behind them, even if they don't know where the saying originated.

The car ride is mostly silent, and not nearly as fast as the similar one that same day. With the guiding directions of Brenda, Brandi somehow manages to find her way back to the playhouse in the intimidating darkness. Caitlyn isn't there, so they enter to find people actually present. It was at night! A sigh of relief escapes Brandi's barely functioning lungs, and she laughs and jokes while filling out her audition form, asking questions about the most simple inquiries.

"Do I sing harmony? What's my range?" How completely uninformed was she. It didn't help that her entire body had succumbed to a minor bout of the shakes. She somehow managed to stand and hand off her form, which is carried to the studio. You'll do fine.

Then, just after sitting on the couch to wait it out, her time arrived, and she stood, making her way to the windowed double doors, the shades drawn. The room she enters is large, open, and echoing, with a mirror along one wall, and hard linoleum floors. A room for dancing, not singing. Not acting. Brandi feels entirely out of place, and she hands her music to the voice instructor, shaking hands with Holly, the director, and nodding thankfully to the choreographer.

"My name is Brandi Cook, and I'll be singing 'Your Daddy's Son,' from Ragtime." The music starts, but it's unfamiliar, she tries to catch up, but it's much to fast. So she informs the voice instructor, who willingly slows the tempo. Brandi is hoping she'll be stopped. Her voice is shaking, but as she gets into the second verse, it stops. She's never sung the third verse at an audition before, only in the shower or the comfortable safety of her own room, where the only people to hear her are her sisters, who ceaselessly yell at her to please stop singing.

But she doesn't, and she never will. Instead, she lets the shakes pass, and she throws herself into the song, reminding herself when to breathe, to enunciate, to, most of all, feel it. With all her heart, she feels this song, and her breaths come like sobs when its all over.

Ooh, ooh.
Oooh, Ooh.

Daddy played piano, played it very well.
Music from those hands could catch you like a spell.
He could make you love him 'for the tune was done,
You have your daddy's hands..
You are your daddy's son.

Ooh, ooh.

Daddy never knew that you were on your way.
He had other ladies and other tunes to play.
When he up and left me, I just up and run,
Only thing in my head..
You were your daddy's son.

Couldn't hear no music.
Couldn't see no light,
Momma she was frightened,
Crazy from the fright!
Tears without no comfort,
screams without no sound!

Only darkness and pain, the anger and pain, the blood and the pain!
I buried my heart in the ground, in the ground!
When I buried you in the ground...

Daddy played piano, guess he's playin' still.
Momma can't forget him, don't suppose I will.
God wants no excuses, I have only one:
You had your daddy's hands..
Forgive me!
You were your daddy's son..

At the door, the ladies that assisted her with her form lean back from the wood, smiles glowing on their faces. One clapped silently, her voice a whisper in the dying echoes.

"That was really good. That's a hard song, and she did really well." For someone who has heard every audition that day, it's a compliment, and Brenda just nods. Brandi did a good job, better than the last time she sang it. Last time she was doing the dishes.

Brandi is still standing, and the director looks up from the paper.

"That's a very good audition song." Her voice is mostly neutral, but Brandi thinks she can detect the slightest bit of apprieciation. During the song, she'd seen very good looks from the director, looks that were considering. Brandi desperately hopes she's reading it right, and can't wait for callbacks, if she gets in.

She gets the papers from the vocalist, and thanks her, and goes off to find Caitlyn, so they can both learn the dance. Caitlyn is waiting outside, and they both disappear into another room, where they are submitted to rigorous and rapid training. I would describe to you the perils they endure in the five minutes they are gone, but the memories it brings to surface are too much to dare recount. Suffice it to say that after three run throughs of a four eight count routine, they are forced to show it before the director, and Brandi, clumsy, graceless fool that she is, is on the wrong foot half the time, and feels terribly about her performance. But with the weight of her singing success lifting her from the ground, the small failure of dancing is completely forgotten.

And so the audition is finished, with the customary chatter between parents finished soon and the drive home easy and also finished without exertion. As Brandi falls into bed, she thinks of all the things she could have done better, and the list, thankfully, is a short one. Now all that's left is to wait for callbacks and torment Caitlyn into listening to Le Roi Soleil..

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