For some reason, I never got involved in theater before high school. But I danced and I danced and I danced. In high school, I came back to New York and saw Rent and Fosse with my school's art club (I am NOT artistic, but I joined the art club for their yearly trip!). Senior year, I came back with Bridesmaid A and a friend when they had auditions at NYU and we saw 42nd Street. We didn't do these classic shows at my high school, and I was sad I never really got the chance to dance like this on stage.
I left the theater, I swooned and I sighed, and I told Bridesmaid A that I wanted to dance and tap forever. My freshman year in college, I had my chance to be apart of a classic musical. There was an organization that put on a musical every year, and only first year students were allowed to perform. I remember the anxiety I felt. I didn't have a ton of friends, I was painfully shy, and terribly afraid of being laughed out of an audition for a musical (I can tap, but please don't ask me to sing for you). In high school, everyone knew I was the dancer, and certainly not the singer. I choreographed the musical our senior year in high school, and at the last minute, our director added me to the show. He knew I loved to perform, but wasn't the talented singer that so many of the other students were. I think with many high school performances, the singing is much more important, and they figure most people will fake their way through the dancing.
So I almost didn't go to my allotted audition time. But my roommate, Bridesmaid S convinced me to go. They split up the audition - first we did a monologue and a song in front of the director and music director, and then we were sent to another room to dance. I sang a few bars of the song I had prepared, and the music director interrupted me and asked me to sing scales. I froze, and then decided to be honest. "I'm not a singer, I don't really know what that means. I'm more a dancer, actually."
I think that honesty saved me. She laughed, told me to sing "Do, Re, Mi" with the piano, only had me suffer through it for a few moments, and sent me upstairs to dance. I wasn't prepared to dance either. I wore jeans. (Apparently I didn't read the audition notice very well.) But we were taught a short combination, and after we performed a few times, the choreographer sent the other four people out of the room, held me back and said, "Oh! We have a dancer! Hurray!" She asked me to do a more complicated combination, including turns and a leap. I wore jeans, but I tried to dance the best that I could. I knew that was my chance.
When I saw I was called back, I was excited...but terrified. There would be so much singing! I remember getting the sheet music and a CD with the song we were meant to sing, getting to a difficult part and thinking to myself, "Well, they won't make us sing that part, it's so hard!" But of course, of COURSE that was the part they made us sing.
But they also made us dance. And I danced the shit out of the number we learned. I made absurd faces. I got into character. I pushed my way to the front of the other girls. I remember someone laughing at me, and pointing in my direction, but I knew...if they were laughing AT me, well I would never see them again. And if they were laughing out of enjoyment, well that was only to my benefit.
Here's where the story gets even more interesting. The next day, I went to the offices where they were posting the cast list. I ran into one of the guys who had also been auditioning, I had recognized him at auditions because he lived on the other end of my floor.
"Congratulations! You're in! I'll see you later tonight!" I was shocked! He must have confused me with the other Jen that we'd hung out with at auditions. We both had the same last initials, and I wasn't positive he had clearly heard either of our last names. I picked up my pace and walked over to the posting. My finger trailed down the paper, and it was true! I was in! I had been cast as an ensemble member of How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying.
Some of the cast members of this show are now my greatest friends in the world. We recently went to see the show on Broadway, with Daniel Radcliffe.
It brought back all those memories of when we were on that stage (not the Broadway one, but our own stage). When we knew all these lines, we had our own choreography, and our sad, student made sets and costumes. When we became best friends, inseparable since that day.
In particular, I remember sitting backstage, watching the number Brotherhood of Man. The big, final closing number. I remember being hopelessly doe eyed, watching Finch sing, feeling my heart pitter patter. I had the biggest crush in the world on our Mr. Finch.
While we watched this number on Broadway, I couldn't help but squeeze Mr. C's hand, and tear up, remembering those feelings I had for him. How far we've come, and how far we have to go. But we are going together.
We're under six months to our wedding, and I get more and more excited every day for the future. But sometimes it's great looking back to the beginning, and thinking of the excitement and adventure of our beginnings.
And yes, I will share with you a picture of Baby Busy Bee and Baby Mr. C at 18, and yes, in stage makeup (which, geez, they really over did it!).
Personal photos, all videos from YouTube