Flashback – 1994

September 15, 2008

My education at AMDA (the American Musical and Dramatic Academy, but not as fancy as it sounds) in New York culminated with a much-ballyhooed, fringe-festooned “Musical Theatre Showcase”  (Ta Daaaaa!).  The school divided our year up into three classes and each class had a shot at the showcase.  The faculty always floated rumors that agents would show up at the showcases – but I never saw one.  Although I don’t suppose they walked around with “AGENT” written in sequins on their jackets.

My class had about 15 students, and by the time it was our turn to be cast in the showcase, we had a pretty good idea of which musical numbers we were vying for, since we’d already seen the other classes do it twice.  I was hoping for the sassy, dancey, belty, “Red Hot and Blue” number.  We knew everyone would get a solo – except there was always that one sad sack who only got a duet.  Everyone pitied that person, and my boyfriend Daniel and I laughed about how the most recent sad sack, Andrea, had better start applying to temp agencies, since obviously even our own faculty didn’t think she had any chance of getting on Broadway after graduation.

So.  Guess who was the sad sack in our showcase?  Yeah.  I was shocked, and I think, rightly so.  Even Lucy Shorner got a solo, and everyone knew she got accepted into AMDA because of her ballet skills – definitely NOT her singing voice, which was never more than barely tolerable.   Up until then my confidence had been pretty high – I worked hard, got good feedback from my teachers, and felt I had the respect of my classmates.  I never made waves – never had dramatic breakdowns in class, didn’t have a reputation as a diva – and maybe that was my downfall – I just got overlooked.

Crushed after hearing the news of my casting doom, I took refuge in a bathroom stall, wondering who could comfort me.  I just couldn’t tell Daniel – not after we’d laughed at Andrea – and now here I was, just another sad sack doomed to be a temp for the rest of my life.

So I called Nick.  And that move definitely contributed to my so-called downfall.  I confided with Nick instead of Daniel, and suddenly Nick knew me, in all my sobby, boogery glory, better than my own boyfriend.  But more on Nick some other time.

Nick encouraged me to confront the fat toad artistic director of AMDA known as, oh hell, Toad.  So I did.  The next day, I approached him as he was handing out sheet music and asked to speak to him.  I had a little speech prepared, and told him, voice shaking, that I thought I deserved more than just a duet.  I had all my arguments ready, but he surprised me by agreeing.  “We had more in mind for you, actually – here.”  He handed me a wad of sheet music:  “You’re the Top,” by Cole Porter – a classic!  “Oh, thank you so much!”  I sputtered. 

“It’s another duet,” he said.

And waddled back over to the chosen ones.

So I had two duets.  I didn’t feel like I could complain again.  I received the message loud and clear:  You’re just not good enough.  And even though the guest choreographer who worked on the showcase pulled me aside later to tell me, “You will get work in this business,” and my acting teacher told me at graduation, “Kid, you’ve got it,”  I didn’t really hear them.  I just heard the Toad.

Ironically, right now, a duet sounds pretty great.


3 Responses to “Flashback – 1994”

  1. kristi Says:

    Stinkin’ Toad.

  2. […] 24, 2008 Shortly after the Toad incident, I found myself sauntering down Broadway one evening, on my way to the deli for Sugar Smacks. I […]

  3. […] last night, I found myself falling into the familiar role of dutiful and attentive student (one I played at AMDA very well), sitting up straight and singing my very, very best and getting annoyed with chatty cast members […]

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