I walk into the room with the other five applicants. We are a very diverse crowd of people: the two musical theatre students who look like they had just finished shooting a remake of Bay Watch; the rock singer who just broke up with her husband and wants to start musical theatre to take a break from her two children; the pretty lady with zero self-confidence about her voice; the sturdy lady with zebra pumps; the lad with nonsensical pink-and-purple shoes and intellectual glasses, who is careful not to mix with the riff-raff; and the one who thought that singing like a pro would help her fake acting and dancing (me).
The dancing part
The choreographer starts by showing us the full sequence. Well, that’s useful, I remember the last half second of it now. Then she goes through the first part of the sequence (sixteen or twenty steps that all look exactly the same but aren’t), which we are supposed to repeat as a group. The Baywatch couple is nailing it, everybody else is on their knees imploring one more repeat. But no, we move on to the second part of the sequence, where we are supposed to lift a whole leg into the air and hope it will come down all right. And whilst we are all doing so great (the lady near me is crying over her deceased pump), why not proceed to the third part of the sequence and… wait, where did it go? No repeats? Not even a tiny one? The commission enters and ‘trusts’ that we have got it and can repeat, without fail, in front of them. I place myself in the far right place of the second row, behind the piano, hoping that the pianist will be a pal and leave me there. She is a pal, but the commissioners aren’t, and after the first try (where I have been quietly and randomly turning at my own pace behind the piano), they command the second row to switch places with the first row. And I was doing so well.
The singing part
I was simply marvellous, nothing else to report. I was more Barbra than Barbra when imploring fate in Send in the Clowns. I check my nose, just to ensure it has remained unchanged. I thank the pianist, offering her my copy of the score, with my autograph, which she doesn’t accept, I think, out of pride. Shame, she could have made a fortune out of it.
The acting part
What they don’t tell you at the Institute for Perfect Ladies in St Moritz, Switzerland (which I attended remotely at mother’s house), is that being soft-spoken counts as a hindrance in musical theatre. So my interpretation of Velma Kelly (the sexy murderer from Chicago) is ruined by my innate sense of royalty, which is unfortunately misinterpreted by the commission as ‘incompetence’, and my office dress. They somehow find it funny that I want to join their company because they have been going on for a long time, but as my gran says, there’s quality in age, think of cheese and wine. I am escorted out by one of the gentlemen, who slams the door behind me with the grace of a rhino.
Thank you very much for auditioning to become a member of our operatic society. I am very sorry that on this occasion you were not successful. We are very grateful for your time and interest and wish you all the best for the future. Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can be of any further help.
Afterthoughts: the two guys from the Bay Watch remake clearly won everything; the rest of us was on a sacred mission to Failure, so it was just a matter of how creatively we could fail. As for myself, I got to tell the commission they are ancient, so my pride is intact.