There’s a line in the original Fame that always struck me. Something mortifying happens to the girl who’s the star, and she says something to the effect of “I must remember this and use it in my acting.”
That’s how I feel about the time I was cast in a musical. I must remember it and use it in my writing.
Actually, if you want to be really accurate, I feel like that girl in A Chorus Line: “See, I really couldn’t see, I could never really sing, what I couldn’t do was sing….”
So, picture this. I’m a senior in high school. For years, I’ve been doing techie stuff in drama, but I think our drama teacher and director figured after all that time I ought to get a shot on stage, and she and the choir director cast me in the high school musical. We were putting on Working, based on the Studs Terkel book, and I was the Mill Worker. I even had a solo, right there at the beginning of the show. But they were smart, and the “solo” was more of a chat to the audience. Whew! I was safe.
At the end of the first act, though, there’s a big number with the whole cast right there at the edge of the stage. And one day at rehearsal, Mr. Choir Director stood beneath us doing his choir directing thing, turned his focus to me, and said, “Julie, I think it might be better if you would just lip sync.”
Yes, I was the Milli Vanilli of high school years before Milli ever thought about Vanilli-ing.
Now, Mr. Choir Director is a lovely person and I bear him no ill will for revealing this truth. I have, however, forwarded to him all of the medical bills resulting from the deep emotional scars and years of psychological counseling.
Needless to say, I lip synced. Also needless to say, he was soooooooooo right.
Not that I really needed a professional to tell me I couldn’t sing. My friends were happily informing me of the same for years. Once, Stephen Carver, one of my absolute best friends with a solid singing voice (hi Steve!) and I were driving along in his car, and I’m singing to the radio. We stop at a light, he looks over at me, and says in a voice reflecting a world of Shock and Awe: “Hey! Julie! I think one of those notes was actually on key!” Color me so very proud …
Fast forward many years, and now I have a daughter…who wants to sing. Can she? I think so, but then again, I’m not really trusting my judgment. So when she announces that she wants to join a local Glee Club/Show Choir, I tape her singing Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer and play the tape for one of my best friends, Dee Davis, who has an awesome voice. The verdict? My kid can sing! Just for proof, here’s a performance of her Glee club this past Christmas. She’s 10, by the way, and is the tallest of the group, and the second kid to sing.
And no, I’m not the least bit jealous. Really I’m not. Now excuse me while I go sing in the shower…..
Got any I Was Mortified In High School stories to share? Come on…you know you do!