At least two inches of crud coated my vocal chords when I woke up Wednesday morning.  It was not a good start to the day.  After two audition-less months, appointments had been flooding in– well, sort of.   I started out the week with a dance call for 37 weeks of employment at the Barter Theatre in Abingdon, Virginia.  The showy choreography was right up my alley, complete with eight bars of lifting my leg over my head and hopping around in a circle.  (I’m great at that.)  I was one of only three girls invited to come back.   But on the day of the callback I was battling cruddy chords.

The day before on Tuesday my chords had been almost as shitty.  I’d had an audition for Oliver at the Gallery Players, the small Brooklyn theatre where I’d done Merrily We Roll Along six years prior.  I was eager to audition for Nancy, a role I had made my own in the 7th grade at Ashtabula Catholic Elementary.  It was my first of many whore roles.  Naturally, I remembered every word of the dialogue, and I was dying to bring this tour de force to New York, with 20 years’ worth of improvement.

Fortunately my cold on Tuesday was just settling into my chest, turning my pingy musical theatre voice into a throaty, tortured gravel.  Perfect for Nancy, whose material sits low.   I had also chosen, for the first time in my career, to wear a wig to an audition.  I knew the costume budget for Gallery was small, and my cute pixie cut is not Dickensian.  I didn’t want to be written off on account of my hair.

However I also wore a gray dress that has never proved to be particularly lucky, and new, not-yet-tested-for-luck black boots.  I was a little worried:  I thought I looked perfect for the role in wig and said dress, but audition clothing carries its own particular brand of luck.  I  tell myself not to be superstitious and that I shouldn’t worry about the fact that I’ve never gotten a callback wearing a certain dress or shoe.  But these doubts, coupled with a hairdo that didn’t match my headshot, coupled with my low, unpredictable voice, made for an unsettling audition experience.  Walking into the room, I felt I was selling a whole new bag of goods, and while I sang my best, the creative team remained poker faced, and I left feeling desperate and awkward.  Callbacks aren’t until mid-March, so time will tell if this perception  was accurate.

The next morning the congestion had risen to coat my vocal chords.  The day before I’d managed to fake a distinctive ten-packs-a-day type of tone, but by Wednesday morning I sounded like a croaking toad.  Thank God I’m married to someone who understands the meaning of the term ‘vocal rest.’  I was silent throughout the morning, downing hot water cut with lemon and getting intimately acquainted with the Vicks steam inhaler.  By 11:00 I could maneuver through scales, although the notes wouldn’t quite pop into place.  I didn’t know what would happen in the room.

Fortunately no wig or dubious dress was required.  I put on a short number that showed off my legs, applied my leg makeup (I am not joking), and hit the A train.  The Barter Theatre wanted to hear a country song, but they did not want us to belt it.  (Name one country song that doesn’t require belting.)  I did a country ballad that I could, under ordinary circumstances, mix instead of belt.  Unfortunately, these were not normal circumstances.  At the climax of the song, my E flat wandered into unclaimed territory between my nose and my head like an gold rush Okie searching for a glory hole.  Damn song!  Damn voice!  Dammit!

I felt 37 weeks of employment slip from my grasp as the director, convinced I couldn’t possibly be that bad, asked for another song.  I read him nearly every title in my binder, which, incidentally, split open the moment I set it on the piano as if it knew I was doomed.  None of my songs were appropriate, not You Can Always Count On Me, not White Boys, not Tell Me on a Sunday, not When You Got It, Flaunt It.  Nothing.  We finally settled on Unusual Way, which is so overdone.    However, since I had been singing it for a decade, my voice did what it had been trained to do.  Thank God for technique.  However, the song was, as always, mediocre.  I have got to get it out of my book.  (Suggestions for a contemporary music theatre mix song are appreciated, preferably in the form of a 16 to 32 bar cut.  Thanks.)

Auditions are full of ups and downs.  When you wake up with crap on your chords, you can assume you’re on the downswing.

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