Friday, May 30, 2008

Entry #1: The Arts - The Audition

(Tracy note: I've bumped up this entry - it was getting buried under announcements.)
The Audition
by Amy Barkman


Reggie Tate and her mother watched from the front row as Glenda Taylor took center stage. She explained that her friend from New York would play the Wicked Witch but the rest of the cast would consist of Simpsonville people.

“We are going to begin with the Flying Monkeys.” She called off a list of names. Most came to the stage immediately but one child had to be dragged by a red faced mother. There were six prospective monkeys, all around five years old. Glenda told them first to get in a circle, then line up in a straight line, clump together in a group, and make their arms flap like wings. She had them repeat several lines. They all did what they were told with the exception of the little dragged-in boy who stood with his finger in his mouth looking terrified.

Reggie realized Glenda was assessing the ability of the children to follow directions. Soon the monkeys were told they could return to their parents, and that group was excused for the night.

Next she called for those interested in being Munchkins, Dorothy, or Toto. Sandy, the music director, had them line up and give their names.

She sang the first few lines of “Ding, Dong, the witch is dead” and told them to repeat it. After a few times of that she divided them into two groups. One sang “Which old witch?” and the other responded with “The wicked witch!” Then she had them do it several more times with increasing enthusiasm. Reggie noticed that she was walking among them listening and making notes.

After Sandy was finished, Glenda came back up to the stage and put the group through some exercises. “Look like somebody hurt your feelings”, “Look like somebody gave you a new bicycle”, “Look like somebody said they were going to hurt you.” It was obvious that some of the young people were more adept at expressing emotion than others.

“Now,” Glenda said. “I want you to start at this end and each of you in turn say ‘Help! Help! I’m stuck in the tree!’ Again it was clear which of them had natural talent.

Several were asked to read a few lines from the script before that group was dismissed.

Tryouts for Glinda the Good began.

***

Reggie’s heart was pounding. She knew she’d done well, better than the other two teenagers. She wondered why no grown women auditioned for the part of Glinda the Good. She also wondered why they had her read some of Dorothy’s lines. She was way too grown up to play Dorothy.

Glenda Taylor was talking again.

“We didn’t have many adults audition as you can see. If you know anyone who might be interested in playing the Tin Man, Scarecrow, or Cowardly Lion, please have them contact me. Thank you for coming out. The list will be posted tomorrow evening after five.”

When Reggie and her mother got up to leave they saw that Carolyn Simpson Brock and her daughter Margaret, who tried out in the second group, had not left when they were dismissed but were at the back of the room. Mrs. Brock walked over to Glenda Taylor, and Reggie could hear their conversation.

“Excuse me. You had the older girls read some of Dorothy’s lines. Does this mean that you are considering them for that role?”

Glenda Taylor’s face betrayed no emotion. “No. I just wanted to see how much variety they were capable of.”

Margaret was pulling on her mother’s arm, obviously anxious to leave but Mrs. Brock continued.

“That Crenshaw child was not bad when she tried out as a Munchkin. It’s a shame that her family is so undependable. I just thought I’d drop a word to the wise!” She smiled and turned to leave.

Margaret’s face was flushed and her head drooped as she followed behind.

That must be what they mean by a stage mother!

Reggie leaned over and hugged her own Mom.

***

Glenda’s eyes flashed as she looked around the table.

“The nerve of the woman! I can’t believe she was putting down that family because their child did a good job. She is obviously determined that her daughter get the role of Dorothy.”

Brandon laughed. “Well, there are several good reasons to cast…” He picked up a paper from the stack. “Margaret…in that role. First, she was the best of the bunch by far, didn’t you all think so?” He looked around the group but continued without waiting for an answer. “And second, her family is influential and could muster a lot of community support for this production and for the ongoing welfare of the theatre.”

Glenda sighed. “You’re right. But if there was anyone nearly as good as Margaret, I’d choose them, influence or no influence. I can’t stand the thought of having to deal with Carolyn Brock for six weeks. But the child is perfect for Dorothy.”

Brandon nodded. “You may think I’m nuts but I kind of like the little kid who didn’t do well. He was in the younger bunch but I think that he might be perfect as Toto, all by himself, just following Dorothy around.”

Nobody expressed displeasure so the Board President continued. “What about the girls who auditioned for Glinda the Good? Are we going to make the other two Munchkins?”
Glenda tugged at her hair. “I don’t know. I guess we all agree that Reggie Tate gets the part?”

The nods were enthusiastic and unanimous.

Sandy said, “We could tell the others we need their voices to lead the younger children in the music. It’s the truth and they’d feel important even though they’re not Glinda the Good” She laughed. “Too many Glendas.” She turned to Glenda Taylor. “Glinda the Good and …”

The director rolled her eyes. “I’m afraid that after the cast list is posted, there will be those who think of me as exactly that - Glenda the Bad.”

Submitted by
Amy Barkman

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