3.17.2006

exposure

Singing has always been more than just a hobby. For me, it's a way of life. It is difficult to recall a single day in my lifetime that has been spent without song. Those moments when I fall ill or lose my voice for one reason or another, though few and far between, are heartwrenching and leave me feeling empty and unfulfilled. But as much as I consider singing to be an important contributor to my well being, I have never visualized it as a part of my adult life. Perhaps it's because for as long as I can remember, the notion of responsibility has been emphasized as the number one priority by my parents, mentors, and rational-thinking friends. And consciously, I can understand and agree with their logic. Go to school. Get a good paying job. Buy a house. Settle down. Seek security. A lovely little progression, and one that guarantees success. I can't deny that.

But I'm starting to believe there is another type of responsibility that I'm neglecting from this equation. One that has to do with myself and my happiness. As I spend the whole of my days staring at a computer screen, answering phone calls, and desperately counting the hours until my next appearance on stage, I begin to consider the consequences between fulfilling my responsibility as an average member of society and fulfilling my responsibility as a unique individual with a repressed childhood dream. Why settle for a life of mediocrity when the possibility of something wonderful is just waiting for you to take action?

So Wednesday night, I took a leap of faith and auditioned for California Musical Theatre's Music Circus in Sacramento. Though not nearly as glamorous as Broadway itself, it has its place as a reputable company in Northern California. The Music Circus produces a summer series of musicals at the Wells Fargo Pavilion in Downtown Sacramento, and it solicits both professional performers and amateurs, like myself. All roles are salaried and provide plenty of exposure for old-timers and new-comers alike. Just what I was looking for.

I arrived with my sister at the Pavilion a few minutes before our scheduled audition at 9:00 PM. I was so thankful to have Cathy there with me. Over the years, our relationship has evolved from antagonistic to tolerant to adoring. I couldn't imagine a better source of support to have with me as I took this personal risk of mine. I was simultaneously tossing aside my strict regimen of responsibility and making myself vulnerable by putting my voice, which I have never considered good enough for anything other than family functions and local venues, on display for a panel of professionals.

I silently battled the snakes in my stomach (butterflies are reserved for happy occasions) as I waited alongside 40 or so auditionees in the Pavilion lobby. I surveyed all these would-be stage stars, poring over their music, tapping their feet along to a rhythm that only they could hear, or simply staring off into space. A few of them were clearly seasoned, easily chatting with one another and rattling off their accomplished performance resumes. All the while, I thought to myself, Dear God, I don't belong here.

The Assistant Artistic Director called us into the theater in groups of 10 to 12. My sister and I were grouped together, to my relief. She explained that we were expected to sit and watch as the auditionees ahead of us walked up to the stage, sang, then processed out of the theater. Being number 10 and my sister the last at 11, this meant that no one other than Cathy would see my audition. This served to alleviate much of the stress I was feeling because I knew that unlike the strangers gathered around me, she would reserve all judgment and supply me with the smile I was sure to need. And so, we began.

Within the my first five minutes in the theater, all my fears disappeared. The thought that plagued my conscience the worst was that I would not be up to par with the other audition's in the room. But having witnessed all nine auditions ahead of me, I quickly found that it was not the case at all. Not only was I up to par, but my singing and performance ability surpassed many of the other auditionees'. If anything, my sheer volume would be impressive, compared to the people ahead of me who could hardly be heard from where I was sitting, ten rows out from the stage. The longer I sat there and watched, the more my confidence built, until I was eagerly anticipating my chance to sing.

I walked up on stage, handed the accompanist my sheet music, turned to face the Artistic Director, and was thoroughly disheartened. As I began my introduction, the man did not even have the courtesy to look at me while I spoke. I was frustrated beyond belief, and I wanted to yell, "Um, excuse me sir, I did not drive all the way from the Bay Area to be ignored." Instead, I took a deep breath, and blew the roof off with my starting phrase, leading into the ending stanza of "The Wizard and I" from Wicked. That promptly got his attention. His head snapped up, and he inched forward in his seat. As the intensity of my performance built, he began to nod his head in time with the music. And upon the completion of my audition, ending with an impressive belted high C, he clapped his hands on the desk, laughed, and said, "Thank you so much!" I smiled, nodded, thanked him for his time, and collected my music from the accompanist who left me with, "Wow, thanks!" I happily sauntered off the stage just as my sister was approaching for her audition, with a huge smile on her face. One thought crossed my mind: I did good.

As we drove home later that night, I considered my prospects for both the Music Circus and my future. I've always known that what I have is a special talent, and until that audition, I never took it seriously. But what if I did? What if I actually took the time and effort to make something of and for myself? It would be risky, yes. In the cutthroat field of entertainment, I am likely to develop a propensity towards failure. But those moments of acceptance and appreciation from the leaders of the industry make my efforts seem worthwhile and make me feel like I am capable of something incredible.

I have come to the conclusion that I have to give this a try. Regardless of whether or not this audition takes me anywhere, I can't continue living my life of responsibility knowing that I could have done something better. Go ahead and call it irresponsible. Reckless abandon. Sheer insanity. Whatever the case, this little bit of exposure has done much more for my character than the past three months at my office job have and probably ever will.

Here I go, to the stage.

2 comments:

Poursh said...

Wow Gina :)... I'm so proud of you! My prayer are with you; follow your dreams and never give up! I'm sure you'll make it!

Anonymous said...

Good luck!
--Sylvia