Thursday, May 24, 2007

Bait and Switch

We recently learned that my eight-year-old son has a gift for music. About three months ago I signed him up for guitar lessons. At least that's what I thought I was doing. I told his instructor I was also interested in voice, since he has a sweet little singing voice. He assured me I'd come to the right place. It turns out the teacher is a retired professional musician with big vision. Brandon has quickly become one of his top students. He plays in a band, and in just those three months has a repretoire of about 20 songs, and is playing the lead in some of them. Plus he sang a solo at his baptism last month that made strangers cry.

So when I saw that our city's arts council was holding auditions for The Music Man, I thought of Ronny Howard as Winthrup, and immediately asked Brandon if he'd like to try out, even though the auditions were that very night. He was thrilled with the idea. We had been practicing Elvis's Hounddog, which he can perform in either a normal voice or his Elvis voice (guaranteed to put you in hysterics) so off we went to auditions.

When we walked in the room, the lady in charge said, "if he's going to be in, you'll have to do it with him." She was a very friendly lady, in a jovial mood, and I thought she was just trying to drum up adults for the cast, so I laughed and said something to the effect of 'yeah, right.' Brandon proceeded to sing. She loved it, or at least was humored by it (he used his Elvis voice). Told him he was in, wrote on his application, then told me to go fill one out. And she was serious. When I hesitated she explained that last year they had children jumping off the stage and causing all kinds of problems because their parents weren't around, so that's their new policy.

I have been in musicals before, but not since high school. And if you know me, or have read my blog, you know it's been a few years since high school. I can't say I've gotten out of the habit of embarrassing myself since then. But I usually do it on accident.

I looked at my son, who was so excited he could bust, and only had one choice. I filled out the form and slipped it in the door, hoping it would get lost in the shuffle.

Later that night my 15-year-old daughter struggled with the question of whether she should try out. She has played in musicals, and loved the experience, but hates singing solos. The lady had encouraged me to bring her, since they were short on teens, and said she'd just have to sing 'Happy Birthday', so she could make sure she could carry a tune. Finally convinced, we returned and she literally sang half of Happy Birthday, and was told she was in.

Then the lady turned to me and asked if she had told me before that I made call-backs. I told her I hadn't even sung for her, and she said it didn't matter, all the women made callbacks. I was so honored.

And a couple of days later little Brandon and I went to call-backs. He read an absolutely amazing scene as Winthrup. I did a lame reading as a pick-a-little lady, with weak and wobbly singing. (If you don't remember, they are the women that sing the cute gossip song, then later do an absolutely 1) Hilarious or 2) Humuliating -- depending on if you're the performer or the audience -- dance involving Grecian Urns.)

She decided Brandon was too young to play a lead. She doesn't know what she's missing. But apparently I'm not too young to play a pick-a-little lady. (Hold your applause, I think all the women made it.) I was given the schedule last night, and it looks like I'll be spending almost my entire August and half my September learning how to embarrass myself - I have about ten times more practices than my son, who I'm supposed to be chaperoning.

If you're familiar with The Music Man, you'll know that this is all kind of appropriate. I feel like one of the townspeople, especially the barbershop quartet, who allow themselves to be distracted with music every time they try to bring up reality. Too bad the director is a woman. She'd make a perfect Harold Hill.