A few nights ago we watched the musical, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. If you aren’t familiar with my stage career in high school then you are fortunate. I was in all the plays. One audition stays with me to this day. I don’t know what I am saying, they all stay with me. A few that randomly come to mind are “the really bad singing incident in 1988” and “the dance crash of 1993.” However, none of them trump my audition for Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
Debbie I am so sorry. (All names have not been changed.)
I sort of forget some of it. January 15th, 1989. It was cold that day, real cold. The kind of cold that sticks with you and changes you forever. The time was 4:04 pm. The 798 red velvet clad seats in the auditorium held 237 people that day. I wore acid washed tapered jeans that buttoned just under my rib cage and a purple v-neck sweater with pink turtleneck. I cannot recall if my white Keds had safety pins with friendship beads on them or not. That part I can’t remember. But if they did the beads were pink, teal, and purple.
For the audition we were brought up on stage in groups of 3 to sing the following:
So Jacob came to Egypt,
No longer feeling old
And Joseph came to meet him
In his chariot
The notes were high. Real high. So high that if you google this music a banner pops up asking if you want to learn how to sing really high notes. I wish had. I wish I had known.
It was not for me that day to be on the side of fate. Debbie and I brought out the worst in each other when it came to singing. And yet there we were, side by side, under the bright lights attempting to sing. Now to be fair, Debbie can hold her own in the voice department. However, with me singing in her ear she became tone deaf. I, on the other hand, cannot sing, so I already was tone deaf. Add in that it was an audition, where, damn it man, even Streisand would have buckled under the pressure, and it was bad, real bad.
At one point Debbie had her fingers in her left ear, I had my fingers in my right ear, our faces squinting trying to find a note, any note. There was no end. No one stopped us. We kept on singing. Singing through the torture and the embarrassment, we even managed to sing the wrong words, at different times, with the sheet music in front of us. At such point, I’m pretty sure this is when the hysterical uncontrollable laughing started.
I remember the producer’s face, Mrs. We’ll-Call-Her-HUBER, standing to our right with her hands on her hips. “Enough!” she said. “Thank GOD”, we said. “NO!” She said. “The two of you–STAY.”
So the poor soul who had to sing with us marched off and a fresh poor soul came to join us. “AGAIN!” shouted Mrs. Huber. And there we went, off key and lousy, trying to not laugh.
Trying to not laugh when you are not suppose to be laughing is really hard. And we did not do it well, in addition, to the singing.
We were told to stay on stage as one after another fresh faced good singers came and went after auditioning alongside of us. Well, who the hell knows what they sounded like, who could hear them? We continued to stand in the center spotlight trying to not laugh, trying to tune each other out, trying to hit the really high notes and not get the words mixed up, trying to get off the stage. I know whenever the word was Jacob one of us sang Joseph and whenever it was Joseph one of us sang Jacob. To this day I think these names are funny.
Finally the audition that I would be told years later was used as a cautionary tale to future would be actors ended. We were cast, as the camel. One of us was the front end, one the back end–I will let you decide who was where.
We were magnificent. And silent. We also came a part, by accident, on stage, during a show.