• Sherryl-Lee Secomb

My audition stank more than yours.

Next time you want to perk yourself up after a tough audition, enjoy the story of my worst audition and enjoy a good laugh on me.

It was my home town’s turn for the national auditions for Andrew Lloyd Webber’s brand new musical “Cats” and I was excited. I had been learning singing for 3 years and at 18, I was ready for my big break.

Like every other young performer, my dream was to go pro.  I had already performed in a number of community theatre musicals, had enjoyed creating lead roles and I owned my own chorus shoes. What else did I need?

My audition prep consisted of developing my outfit. This was the '80s, the era of Flashdance, and my grey dance pants, sweat shirt and pink legwarmers were amazing. I’d even cut the neckline out and the sleeves off to sweat shirt so that I had that raw, hanging off one shoulder look. Good grief, I couldn’t wait to make my entrance.

I’d practised my song a few times (it's about now you should be openly laughing) and had my sheet music at the ready (imagine an 18 year old singing All That Jazz from Chicago - good grief!). I had no idea what Cats was about and with no internet (remember, it's the '80s), I had no hope of getting any useful information. Research for my audition consisted of watching my killer dance moves in the bedroom mirror and admiring how great my leggings looked on my high kicks. The choreography I’d created for the third verse of my song was going to blow the audition panel away!

As I entered the audition waiting room it felt like walking into a giant fur ball. There were 'cats' everywhere. Full makeup, fur, the lot. I felt under dressed until I realised that every one of them was wearing legwarmers. I was fine.

The walls in this space were paper thin and I could hear everyone’s audition from the inner room. As I listened to performer after performer sing their songs, I slowly began to realise something – the world is full of talented people.

My name was called, several times. What is it about auditions that makes you forget your own name? Clutching my music, I entered the audition space, with walls covered in mirrors. My high kicks would look amazing in these.

The audition panel greeted me politely and asked me what I was going to sing. I mumbled something to my shoes and walked to the piano where I asked the pianist to play my song - IN A DIFFERENT KEY TO THE SHEET MUSIC. Oh, lawdy. The original key was wrong for me but I didn’t think it would be too difficult for him to play it in the key I’d been practising in my head.

He was so polite and looked at me as if he were looking at a lamb about to be run over by a fully laden truck! I don’t think he changed the key for any of the 10 bars I got to sing. They stopped me before my dance break! I didn’t even get to see my high kicks flash across those mirrored walls. They thanked me for coming and I was politely escorted from the room.

As thin as the walls were, I’m sure I didn’t hear anyone desperately trying to breathe because they were laughing so much. However, I think I did hear the thump of a head on a table.

Today as I write about this naive 18 year old girl, I want to wrap her up and tell her everything turns out better than she hoped but I’m laughing so much it’s making me want to pee.

So, the next time you do an audition you feel was a disaster, remember 18 year old Sherryl-Lee and her legwarmers and move on to the next one. Every audition is a learning experience and it’s definitely NOT the end of your career. I promise, cross my heart, hope to never wear legwarmers again!

Sherryl-Lee Secomb is the creator of An Idiot On Stage.

The Idiot exists to encourage and equip community theatre to expect more and be extraordinary. Check out more of the Idiot at anidiotonstage.com.au. Follow the Idiot on facebook and instagram, and enjoy hundreds of theatre resources on the Idiot's pinterest boards.

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© 2020 by Sherryl-Lee Secomb

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