Thursday, March 16, 2006

Lost in Oz

Well, my daughter did NOT get Dorothy. . .and here's a little story that tells WHY.

Oz is being produced by a local community college that does community theater in the summers. I got back into acting after an 18 year hiatus at this very venue, doing Shakespeare and Arthur Miller. Had a blast doing it.

A number of us auditioned for West Side Story last summer, but when it became evident that my eldest daughter was not going to get cast, I asked out of a role that I actually had not been formally cast in, but it had been made pretty clear that the role was mine to lose. So, we didn't do it last year.

This year, that same daughter, who has fine acting chops, and a GREAT singing voice, auditioned for Dorothy, and got called back. Call backs were last night. My daughter sang like a boid, and did a fine job reading. None of the other 5 callback Dorothys were better than my kid (fine, call me biased. . .you had to be there, you'd agree with me), but at the same time Monica wasn't necessarily better than all of them. She was at least equal, in my mind, to two of the others, putting here in the top three auditioners.

The other three were not in the same tier. Those last three consisted of one girl with a fine voice, but with a face and body that simply will not serve as Dorothy. Sorry, but them's the facts.

The other two consist of an Oriental girl with the right build, but average acting skills and a rather poor voice. The final one is a strong dancer, but also has average acting chops and a poor voice.

In a rather odd message, the cast list was published over a voice mail machine, and in announcing Dorothy, the director announced that the two latter candidates, the Oriental girl and the dancer, were being called back for a third audtion. None of the others, including my daughter, were called back. And then this cryptic statement: "We reserve the right to cast whomever we choose for Dorothy." Well, duh!! why state the obvious? And you plan on drawing from these last two candidates, the weakest of the bunch? Why tell us the obvious?

But the final filip to this little tale I've not yet revealed.

The candidate for Dorothy that is not the Oriental? The dancer?

She just happens to be the daughter of the choral director for this show.

Now, does anyone really think that an Oriental is going to get cast in what is otherwise a white cast? I really, really doubt it. This poor girl is being used as a distraction from casting the choral director's daughter.

Nepotism, anyone?


Now, that said, I know the above sounds bitter. Perhaps I am, but only a touch. I am under no illusions about the fine arts. So very, very often it is not what you know, or how you do, but who you know that lands you the gigs. I knew going in that Monica was facing some very stiff competition, in that the choral director's kid was competing for the role Monica wants. (Why the choral director is allowed to have a say in casting when her own kid is auditioning is another question. . .but that's another story) And if that other girl gets it, I cannot claim to be surprised. And I warned Monica of this, that she could NAIL the audition and still lose out. That didn't stop her when it became mostly evident with that message that she didn't get the role, and she spent the better part of an hour staring at the table, the glisten of closely-held tears shining in her eyes. While the fury of my wife mounted and mounted. . .

A funny world we live in. But fortunately, my Monica is taking it well now, looking forward to goofing backstage with a friend of hers that also got cast as an extra, and it appears that ALL of our seven kids are going to be in it (I was asked if the baby, now 5, who did not try out, would be interested, and we said "Sure!!!"), so there is a real chance that we might be able to take a picture of all of us in costume. . .even if Monica didn't get the plum part.

It is surely something she can learn from, even if it is a lesson in injustice; that hard work and talent sometimes are not enough. But you pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and do it again. Keep auditioning. Keep trying. As Monica's voice coach said when she found out about this, "Honey, you keep working. Your day will come when your talent and ability will be recognized for what it is."

Parenting is such a bittersweet proposition sometimes.
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