Friday, July 31, 2009

By Request and with Permission

In a recent blog "Did I ever tell you", I wrote of an audition I subjected myself to earlier this year. It had been years since I'd auditioned for anything outside of my church so I hadn't experienced the "real" competitive side of auditioning for some time. Which is not to say that the auditions held at my church are not serious. They are. We don't fool around, when we work on a production, we're doing it because we want to make an impact, so you gotta take it seriously, comedy or not. You get my drift.

My cousin Anita (castlescrownscottages) commented on that particular blog entry and mentioned an audition she and I were a part of many, many... hmmmm...yes, many moons ago. It wasn't an actual audition where you were either cast or given the boot, it was a workshop at a small dance studio in Uptown Whittier where she and I attended dance classes. We wanted to expand our horizons and be more than just dancers. A workshop was offered and since we were lovers of musical theatre, it only made sense that we should sign up. Sign up, we did and intentionally dug our heels in to learn eveything we'd ever wanted to know about musical theater.

Amoung the various assignments we touched on, we were asked to prepare and sing an auditon song as if it were a "real" audition. Easy enough. We set out to find our music which in itself proved to be a pain in the bahooty. At that particular point in time, I always sang Soprano because somehow, someone convinced me that I was a Soprano and I never thought to question. Why would I? My grandmother was a professional musician, my brother Rusty played piano and sang, brother Greg played drums and fiddled around with the guitar and my sister was and still is a drummer. I'd played Rosie in "Bye Bye Birdie" and dabbled in and out of theater before deciding it was time to become a real dancer. Music was all around me for as long as I could remember. I should know that if I was told I was a Soprano and I could hit the notes, I must be a Soprano. My mother was a Soprano; she sang like a Lark. I found out years later through my first real voice instructor that I was and still am an Alto.

Anita's father (my Uncle Joe), played and taught piano. He loved to play piano and even the accordian on occasion. And we had many occasion since she had a piano at her house and of course we had one at mine. So, as you see, we were both surrounded by music all our lives.

I'd never thought about it but looking back through the years I now recall that I never, not once, heard my cousin sing. Odd, don't you think? Well, maybe not. But in our family once the party got started and maybe a few drinks down the hatch, there was bound to be music. At some point she must have sung something...but then again, she was very shy as a child so it could be she sang in a small voice and I just didn't notice. You know how it is when you're a kid, you don't put a whole lot importance on things like tempo or intonation or pitch. You just sing. Who really cares, just gimme something to have fun about.

Well the day for our big song debut is just around the corner and I'm still not sure of my song. I call Anita and say "hey, ask your dad if I can come over and have him play my song to see if it's in the right key. I'm not sure what key I sing in and if someone is going to accompany us, I'd better make sure this is ok". She checks with my Uncle and they decide I can come on over. Viola! Should be a piece of cake.

I show up at the house, ready to sing with my musical choice "You Made Me Love You". If you don't remember the song, it's one that Judy Garland sang to a picture of Clark Gabel in Broadway Melody of 1938. It's a sweet song.

Anita has chosen a song from "Summer Stock", called "Get Happy".

She starts to sing and this little shy, thing blasts the lyrics so loud and with so much vigor I felt like I had to hold on to keep my feet from flying off the ground. Let me tell you, the girl has a great set of lungs and she can carry a good tune. But what happened to timid, I'll never know because she was singing to get the job. I'd done the Bye Bye Birdie thing and my voice was so weak they had to mic me. There I was, the lead and the only person who could not project. And here's my cousin causing multiple sonic booms while I was trying to hear myself over the piano. Whoaaaa Nelly!

Now, before I go any further, I must tell you about my Aunt Gracie, Anita's mother. She too was shy. She loved music though. But because of her shyness, when all were around the piano she'd sit quietly enjoying. My dad, the instigator, would often ask her to sing. It was partly because he knew she was just waiting for someone to ask and partly because when she sang, it was very, very entertaining. Bless her heart, she was a good sport. Anita, my dear, I have no other way of saying it, except to say that, my Aunt who I love with all my heart, could not sing. Sorry. But you know what, once she was bribed into singing (and it didn't take much), she let go as if her life depended on it. As painful as it was for all those around to hear, it was also a joy. The biggest problem was that we had to, with all we could muster, keep from laughing. It was a little like dare not. You just gotta take my word, it was interesting. My dad who didn't laugh out loud much, would cover his mouth like a little girl and back out of my Aunt's view because he just could not hold it in. Ahhh, the good 'ol days.

So, getting back to Anita...she was LOUD! And to write it without an exclamation point would not fully express the LOUD! I'm referring to. On top of that, there was a little problem with the lyrics. Not the lyrics as they were written and meant to be sung, the lyrics as Anita sang them. See for some reason she just could not say Shout. It's an easy word, I know. Say it with me "Shout". Simple, no? Maybe it was the combination of words "Shout Hallelujah". Whatever it her particular version it became "Shit Hallelujah". And it wasn't a little "shit" it was a very big "shit" because it was the first word of the second verse in the song and Anita had every intention of singing that song with every ounce of her body. I mean she gave it everything and she was quite engaging and dynamic and all the stuff you'd want a performer to be! She's one of those people that when she takes the stage, she doesn't have to ask for the attention, she just get's it. I believe it's called charisma. Yep, that she gots!

She tried over and over again to "Shout Hallelujah" but for some reason, she could only "Shit Hallelujah". It was hysterically funny. We laughed so hard and it was such a unforgettable afternoon that my girls even know the story and that was umpteen years ago. My cousin performs all out even when rehearsing and that afternoon was no different. She tried and tried but the poopoo word was to make it's mark.

Well...I don't recall how it finally came out the actual day of our workshop. But I can promise you this, if by some chance Anita's lyrics came out "Shit Hallelujah", it was one of the most convincing and authentic shit's you'd ever wanna hear.


Bunny Missbrenner said...

I think "Shit Hallelujah" gives it more ummppff...don't cha' think? More That's funny and what's funnier is that I can not picture little shy and quiet Anita singing let alone saying bad words..whether it was intentional or not. I wonder why it came out have to move your mouth in two different ways...curiouser and curiouser...

Marie said...

So...if I'm hearing you correctly, you think there was some internal issue she was dealing with at the time to cause foul language to come from that place of pisoffedness deep within?

Interrestink, my Dear Watson.

Bunny Missbrenner said...

LMAO....Well...YOU say both words and tell me they are remotely the same....I think not!

Lets see what Anita has to say about it. I'm dying to know what happened when she sang the song in front of the class.

That's right...Anitas got a wild side go'n I'm just say'n

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

OMG I am laughing so hard right now...those were the days! This was a brilliant you remember who was there that day? Was it a Ray L.'s studio? I am dying of laughter here, on the verge of spitting up my breakfast! Remember my mom? Gosh we have an amazing family. I do remember your dad laughing very silently on occasion, but when my mom took the stage...OMG what fond memories. Do you know, that my students tell me, "Madame, it is non-stop laughs in your class!" I love it; I love you! Happy Sunday and Merci Beaucoup for the memories! (Hey, you should do a thing called "memory lane" and recount some of the funniest stories from the family!!! Bisous, Anita

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

You know ladies, I don't know why I couldn't say "SHOUT"! I did have a speech thing as a child....but now, I don't...Qui sait? Thanks for the youtube clip too! Anita

Marie said...

I remember Ray Limon and Bonnie Lowenstein. She was directing a lot of musical theater at the time. I later did a show in L.A. under her direction called Canterbury Tales. It was a short run but I had a blast doing it.

I don't recall who else was even in the class but I'll bet Connie and Lark were there. Remember them?

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

Yes! Connie and Lark, I remember them! Good...not too many people then....! Anita