We’re Off To See The Wizard!

It’s SHOWTIME!

“This is a spell, this is!” Why can’t I get this line right?!

“This is a spell, this — UGH!!!!” This is your ONLY line Brandon!!! Why are you having this much trouble?! JUST SAY THE FREAKING THING!!!!

That was me at auditions for my first show ever, The Wizard of Oz, and panicking because I couldn’t say 6 words like a normal human being. (Glad I got that mostly fixed lol.)

“I need group 1 to follow me to learn the music, and group 2 to go to the Ballet Loft to learn the Choreography.” said the Director.

“Well, there’s at least one thing I’ll be good at.” I said quietly under my breath. So I followed the group to the Ballet Loft and learned the overly simplified choreography and was quickly doing it on my own without looking at the Choreographer. After Choreo, my group went to learn the audition song, and was told that we would be singing as a group and if we’d like, by ourselves. I looked and the sheet music and instantly recognized it. Our audition song was “You’re Off to See the Wizard.”

“PERFECT!” I thought. I knew the song well, since I had watched The Wizard of Oz many, many times while I was a kid. I really felt like I was ready to blow the director away with my singing and dancing, and hoping that they’d make up for my horrid one line that was sure to fall flat.

“Group 5, you are up next,” someone shouted down the hall. That was my group. We walked in and I was the second or third to audition. Instant nerves.

“Let’s start with the song. We’ll sing through it as a group first and if anyone would like to solo just let us know.” the Director said. So we sang through the song and then I asked to sing it solo. The Director pressed play and I was immediately lost. I couldn’t find my place in the music. PANIC MODE.

“Can I try that again?” I asked once she stopped the music. She agreed and let me start over. This time, I came in way too early. WHAT IS HAPPENING?! I paused, turning every shade of red.

“Just keep going,” she said over the music. I tried, but was only able to get back on in the last few measures.

“What just happened,” I thought to myself, not realizing the Director was already starting the music for the Choreography. Once I realized that the music had started, I was already so freaked out by choking out on the song, that I went the complete wrong way in the dance. So to get back on, I waited until I knew where I could get back in, but this threw everyone off and we had to start over. I guess that starting over made up for it, because I was fine the second time around.

I left feeling less than confident. My first audition and I didn’t even get to really show myself. The cast list was set to be posted the following Tuesday by noon. I was certain I didn’t get in. I wasn’t even going to entertain the possibility and forgot about it. At around 12 o’clock that Tuesday though, I got a phone call from my boyfriend at the time.

“Hello.” I said.

“Hello, Ozian and Winkie. Congratulations.” he said, almost laughing.

I was instantly confused. What the hell was he talking about? I recognized “Ozian” from the casting sheet, so I checked the cast list and sure enough, I was cast in double roles in the Chorus. An odd sense of excitement hit me, then faded to nervousness.

“A Winkie? WTF is a Winkie?” I thought, hoping it wasn’t something too dreadful. I did a quick search and learned that a Winkie was one of the Wicked Witch’s henchmen. I decided I was ok with that, so I went to rehearsal that night.

It’s hard for me to remember walking in the front doors for the very first time, but I do remember walking into the House and being on the stage for the first time as a performer. It was terrifying. I was immediately anxious. It was hard to imagine in just 2 months time that I would be up there in front of an audience, singing and dancing away. How was I every gonna be ready? I completely choked my audition, and that was in front of a few people. What happens when I choke in front of a full house? Our Director gave us the rundown of the policies and rules. She also gave us our rehearsal schedule and passed out scripts to those who needed it and we got into rehearsals straight away.

Over the next few months, I learned music and choreography to Merry Old Land of Oz and the Winkie’s March. I felt more at ease with being on stage and glided through each scene. Once show week rolled around, a whole new set of problems faced us, however. The cast was not 100% ready for an audience, the trap door that the Wicked Witch was supposed to melt into was not working and unsafe to use, costumes weren’t finalized, Barkley (Toto) was afraid of the Cowardly Lion (ironically) and would run from him when he should have been running up to him, wardrobe malfunctions galore, and we still didn’t have a bike for Miss Gulch to ride on at the beginning. Stress overload!!! Then, during our opening performance, something happened. I’m not sure if it was the audience or the adrenaline, but the usually stressful things, weren’t there. It was like magic. As I sat backstage and listened to Dorothy sing Somewhere Over the Rainbow and looked around at my fellow cast mates backstage, it hit me. That’s what this is. It’s magic. We created magic and it was beautiful.

Our production of The Wizard of Oz, helped me grow up. Being on stage helped me learn more about myself and it opened me up in ways I didn’t know I could. I found that I enjoyed goofing off more with the cast. I enjoyed that it took everyone working together. Mostly, I enjoyed the community. I began to realize how depressed I was before I found this new group of people I’d soon call “friends.” I didn’t want to leave. Not when I had just found them. That’s why I continue to act. I love being a part of such a wonderful community. No matter where you are, the stage is still the stage. You are still sharing an experience with people, whether that’s the audience, other actors, the character you are playing, or all of the above. It’s an amazing place and beautiful. The stage is my Oz and I will never stop wanting to fly over the Rainbow.

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