I have not been auditioning for the past three years. No, I didn’t quit the biz. ‘t you asked the me back then if this was all possible, I would have looked at you like you were on crack. I’m always auditioning. Well, for the right thing…. if I’m not working… if I’m not sick… if my new headshots are done… if my agent can get me an appointment…. if… if… if…
Doesn’t it sound like there is always an excuse? I got news for you- in this business, there is always an excuse. The question is do we let it get to us?
In early 2010, I was on top of the world. In love with the future hubby, playing a supporting role in an incredible show, joining the union at long last, and working at a theatre so close to home that everyone I knew came to see me. I could not have been luckier. After my beloved show closed (shout-out to my NINE family), I hit the pavement hard while enjoying my short-lived unemployment. I got a job teaching musical theatre and opened my own voice studio until Broadway came knocking. The Great White Way was circling the neighborhood.
My agents always told me that in ten years I would make them tons of money but I had to be patient. I wasn’t patient and my type was changing, evolving and confusing me. I had to age into it and even though I was talented, I had to wait. All of a sudden with my new union status, classes under my belt, and callbacks galore, I was feeling confident. I had a successful voice studio and class schedule whilst hitting audition appointments in the city a lot and it was only a matter of time before something came through. I was fancy. I knew it wouldn’t happen overnight. I was confident but not stupid. My life was a waiting game and I was okay as long as there was a song to sing.
Auditions made my head hurt and appointments were a magical appearance in my life of waiting. In the spring of 2011 I knew something great was coming. I had just been in the final callbacks for two Broadway shows and was getting noticed finally. Strike one and two so it could only go up from there! One day, I was called in by a casting director for a HUGE project. I was scared but knew it could be mine. I went in and sang my face off. Casting director told me I sang the perfect song and to come back with an incredibly hard callback piece. There were 20 girls originally called in and they narrowed it down to 5. I came back a day or two later and sang the song PERFECTLY. I was flawless and so excited. They narrowed it down to 2. I sang again. The casting director said pack your bags honey- you’re flying out soon. I could have peed myself in the room and happily floated out of the audition studio.
I got home and talked it over with the future Hubs. We both knew when the offer came I would have to decide quick and take it; it was too good not to and we would make long distance work for the time being. We waited for the call. Nothing happened. I couldn’t stand it anymore and called my agent, giving him the play by-play. He told me since I hadn’t heard it probably was a no. I adamantly protested and had him call over to find out. A few minutes later I got the call saying that it was a no. I asked for feedback. He reported that they thought I was perfect but too small to fit in the costumes. Too small. I hung up and cried into the arms of the man I loved, happy to not leave him but miserable to say it ironically.
I’ve struggled with the labels of my size. I’m never going to be small. In this business I was always too big or too small. Too big to play this role, too small to play that, to pretty, even sometimes! There was never an in between so how could I not be confused? I usually was thrilled when someone said I was too small but not when it meant I didn’t get a really special gig. I shook that hard rejection off my shoulders to go to another BIG and AWESOME audition.
An original musical with a character originated by a woman whose career I hope to have in 10-15 years because we are twinnies? Yes please. I got myself an appointment, learned the AMAZING material, and got to audition with tons of talented and well-known women. I KILLED it. A massacre of song. The director, a famous TV actor whom I admire beyond words, gave me a standing ovation in the room, audibly laughing and clapping. I walked out of the room numb, knowing that it could change my life. I went in again and boom the same thing. So now what? Waiting game! Tick tock…
The women whose career I hope to have in 10-15 years who originated the role would obviously be their first choice so when she became available, I was out for the count and so was the other girl in limbo. Strike four pierced straight through my heart. Cari- OUT.
This is when I knew I needed to step back. There were so many setbacks and rejections and “this is it” moments. Yes, we get used to them but there is a moment when you have to ask if you are okay with being used to it. Are you still okay? Are you still moving forward positively? I was doubting myself now and suffering from bitterness and lack of confidence, not to mention I was broke as a joke. I wanted to love theatre again, to get carried away in the beauty, drama, and laughter that got me all tingly but I needed some time and some money honey. I decided to take a full-time job, take classes, and fix what was wrong. I also knew I wanted to have a real life OUTSIDE of this theatre world. How many times had I worried about never owning a house, never having kids or getting married because of this lifestyle? I have so many friends who will never have those things and are okay because they don’t want those things but I want those things so I was going to go and get those things. This was my chance to get things started and give myself a break.
The reality is you never get a break. Working a full-time job on your feet is hard on your body and mind. Two and a half years later, I have a lot of responsibility with this job, I planned my wedding and enjoyed every second of the process and the big day, I moved, and I officiated over 40 weddings. That’s right, I’m a wedding officiant too. So wait, where was that break?
A break from musical theatre meant missing it, feeling that gaping hole in my heart where music lives. I’m in my early thirties and I feel like I’m a college kid again, starting this business from scratch. Revisiting my old songs feels like seeing an old boyfriend in a bar. Hey I know you but you don’t fit me anymore. This biz changes all the time and I have no clue where to begin. I’ve reached out for some book revamp help and the process has begun. I’ve also started compiling songs for an album. I WILL make an album by 2015. It’s coming but I feel like musical theatre is a long lost friend, far from reach.
But the excuses I talked about before keep clogging my head. You have to get new headshots but… You have to start auditioning again but…. You have to take classes and lessons but… You have to learn about voiceovers and other genres but…. You have to buy a better mike to make the album but… It all boils down to time and money, doesn’t it? I admit it proudly that I am now making a normal salary and I like it. No more paycheck to paycheck, I can go out and not feel guilty! I never felt that way when I was working in theatre, even when I was successful. Is that good, bad, or telling? I have no friggin clue. I’m in theatre because it’s all I ever want to do. I sing because I have to in order to be happy. If that was enough to maintain a life and pay the rent, I would be so rich but it’s not.
The excuses need to leave and I need to focus in. In my first post I talked about New Year’s “Resolations.” I said this about the biz:
“The BIZ. Oh this is a big one. I need new headshots, I need new music, I need a new book, I need a new look. GOOD GOD it is always something. I am a musical theatre nut in an ever-changing and ever-developing business of technology, nepotism, and also luck. I’m throwing all that out of the window and just grabbing it all by the balls. I am putting myself out there. I’m going to record an album this year, my first of many, I’m going to reenter this auditioning madness, and I’m going to enter a new side of the business, voiceovers. (My husband promised to push me out the door to go and get ‘er done.) If you have any insight, I’m all ears!”
So the first step towards reentry is my rep book. Repertoire that doesn’t fit me anymore is out like the exes in a bar- ain’t nobody got time for that! It’s all about finding those special songs that make me love to sing and just come out honestly. It’s all about rediscovering. Out with the old and in with the new. Goodbye standards and girlish tricks. It’s nice to welcome in new styles and genres. I’m older and different now and it has to reflect in the songs I choose to audition with and record. Lucky me is finally aging into her type and song! New life experiences to bring to the table. I just hope I still remember what I’m doing. Wish me luck and buy my husband ear plugs because here we go!