Friday, November 22, 2013

Madame Thenardier

I decided to wear this blue polka dot dress that I got from Walmart. I bought it on a weird shopping trip I went on after midnight. It's the only time I like shopping really. I still have the dress 12 years later.

My friend Susan went with me. They had the auditions at a hotel in downtown Salt Lake City. There was a big lobby. Everyone was wearing a black pencil skirt and a button down blue shirt. I was wearing a blue polka dot dress. Susan went around pretending to be auditioning for young Cosette because she's a comedic genius. I wasn't studying MDT (music dance theatre), I was getting my degree in Acting-- so I didn't feel too much pressure. I just thought it would be fun to tryout for the Broadway tour of Les Mis.  I mean, why not?

I went in and I sang "Sunday in The Park With George". I had fun. They were impressed. I was told I had a call back.  And to my surprise, I was one of about 5.

I was handed my sides and told to come back in a couple of days. I went home and I read the sides.

It was the music from "Master of the House" where Madame Thenardier swears a bit. I don't mind swearing, but I hate taking the Lord's name in vain. It bothers me. I use all the other words with far too much abandon, but I don't like disrespecting God.

I prayed about it. I remember kneeling at my bed in my little basement apartment. I wanted to do the right thing. And I got an answer. I could feel my answer flow into my mind.  I should do the audition with confidence. I was representing an evil person. The words were written to reflect the disrespect that this wicked woman felt towards divinity. In order for me to tell the real story of her wickedness, I had to swear.

So I did. I had a great call back. After a few phone calls back and forth between Provo and New York--I stopped hearing from them. I think the tour was coming to an end or something like that. And honestly, I felt a bit young for the part.

Fast forward a few years to 2013.

The blue polka dot dress is still in my closet. It doesn't fit. I would like it to fit. I have a beautiful blue and white dress though. I put that on and ratted up my hair, lest they wonder what part I wanted.

I walked into a sea of nervous actors. I ran into several friends that I had worked with over the years. We were all nervous, but I was so happy to see them again. Auditions are wonderful places to reunite and show love and support.

The song went well. I sang the "Drop Kick Me Jesus" line from "I Could Have Gone To Nashville". It was funny, fun, and I could show off a highish belt.

I got a few smiles from the powers that be and I left.

That was Monday.

On Friday, I saw my name listed with 6 other powerhouse divas. Over 600 people auditioned--and I was one of 7 women called back for Madame Thenardier. I wasn't called back for ensemble--which worried me at first--but neither was Brooklyn--and I think she is wonderful.  So I wasn't too worried.

Saturday afternoon I went in for the call back in the blue dress again. Before going, I meditated on love. I focused on filling my heart and my whole body with divine love. I just wanted to have a beautiful experience. Of course, I also rehearsed the song. I had made my peace with the words back in 2001--but I decided to call on some of my training. I looked for gestures of supplication to underscore the words. I worked on stretching my torso and finding beautiful gestures, and then contrasted that with ugly shapes so that without the words, my body would still tell the story. It was wonderful to work.

At the call backs, I felt genuine love and affection for everyone there. I sat in the room and listened to the ensemble sing. I cried as the Marxist anthem rose up. My little liberal heart was in heaven. I mistakenly joked with Mark Dietlein, not realizing that he was one of the producers. I just thought he was one of the actors up for the bishop or the Master. I introduced myself to new friends and we waited. The Thenardiers auditioned at the end of the day. We all went through our songs a couple of times--trying to be as prepared as possible. I imagined all the ways casting could go.

The men went first. Then the ladies stood up and sang through our part of "Master of The House". Sally Dietlein quickly stood up and announced that we would be auditioning the parts with edits. She changed God Almighty to Holy Mother, God to Who, shit to spit, and bastard to master. I wrote the changes down--but I had put the words into my gestures. I couldn't hold a paper. I was impressed with all of my dear diva sisters' auditions. When I got up--I did my best to maintain the madame's grotesque and evil nature, while singing the now muted/neutered words I'd just been given. I was so grateful for my good movement professors who taught me how to tell the story with my body. I heard the panel of directors and producers audibly gasp at one point. It was so satisfying!

After we left the room, the musical director offered me his hand and asked, "Why aren't we friends?" It was a lovely and appreciated gesture. We all complimented one another. And again--I felt such love from and towards my fellow auditioners. I walked to the car with Camille and we both complimented one another on our past work. I raved about her Matron in Chicago and she raved about my Mae in Reefer Madness. An hour later we became Facebook friends.

It was a great day.

And now a week later, they have chosen the cast.

 I'm not Madame Thenardier.

It breaks my heart a little. I would have loved to have played the part.

And honestly, knowing my divine answer about the words from all those years ago--I wish I had had the moral conviction to refuse to edit/neuter the character in the audition.  But I was too chicken. I was thinking about how wonderful it would be to sing the songs and to perform with such great actors. And I was thinking about the extra cash.

But I didn't get cast.

I am delighted for the women who did get the part. They will be do an amazing job.

And someday I'll play Madame Thenardier. In ALL of her glory.


Today, I am grateful for my craft.
I am grateful for the hundreds of you who showed your love and support.
I am grateful for the divine opportunity to be an actor.

And I'm grateful for all the time I have to pursue other wonderful opportunities! 


Anonymous said...

You would have been amazing, Eve. HCT is missing out... but you will bounce back offering the world even more of your talent, beauty and ability.

Heidi said...

This. "I was representing an evil person. The words were written to reflect the disrespect that this wicked woman felt towards divinity. In order for me to tell the real story of her wickedness, I had to swear." SO profound. Definitely something to remember when confronted with this dilemma.

Thank you.