I friggin love Christmas. I’m smothered in a cold and it’s amazing; it’s giving me cause to sit around on my ass and watch movies and listen to tunes. I tend to be a very restless and cabin-fevery person, otherwise (since having children), so this relentless phlegm I’m drowning in is the Christmas miracle my husband has been praying for. It forces me to chill the fuck out.
Not that I’m, ya know, doing what one is supposed to do to nurse oneself back to health. Like, I’m not “eating regular meals”, per se. Rather, I’m “consuming nothing but screwdrivers and Bailey’s from 8am to 8pm then switching to wine, Doritos, mint M&M’s and a variety of cheeses until I pass out”.
Wake up. Rinse (optional). Repeat.
And so, shivery and exhausted and smeared in tears and snots, I’ve had time (what’s that?) to reflect on this past year…
Ah yes, 2017, you cheeky devil. I clearly blacked-out through most of the winter because I cannot think of one interesting or note-worthy thing I did except survive and ensure the survival of my offspring.
Flash-forward to the fall, though, and shit started to get real. I went to “The 6” (that’s what Drizzy and I call Toronto, it’s no big deal) to do a course. Now, we’ve long-established that when I attempt to do these continuing education things, we, the participants, are the guinea pigs for whatever treatment is being taught. This time it was Functional Dry Needling. This was a big accomplishment for me as I’m a seasoned fainter. I managed to be a human pin-cushion and only hysterically laugh-cried for about an hour and a half of a full two-day course. Winner!
And then, in early October, I did something which required massive ovaries…
[OK, I tried to drop a woman-power zinger there but I have to say, it just sounds kinda gross and, quite honestly, like a serious medical condition. But you get where I was trying to go with it.]
… I auditioned for Chicago.
[Our wee little town on the west coast of Newfoundland is buzzing with art and music and theatre. It’s a great place to be if you want to let the ol’ creative juices flow.]
Now, I’ve done a bit of theatre over the years. But quite honestly, since becoming a mother, the only thing I’ve maintained is claustrophobia, a suffocating guilt-complex and chin-strap acne.
So when the big audition day came, suffice to say I was a little nervous. I played it off as being NBD but, don’t be fooled, I was a wreck. I was going for the part of Velma Kelly so, obviously, I was going to sing All That Jazz. That’s easy, right?
I mean, Frasier’s ex-missus did it on Broadway. Catherine Zeta Jones did it – and she’s trying to hide a Welsh accent! And is she even a trained dancer?
I sat in the car for about an hour before the audition to belt it out eighty-seven more times without scaring the baby. I was sweating. I had to run in the house for about six or seven panic poops. Finally, tortured, I made the slow, surreal drive over to the dance studio.
Now, it’s important to note that both the director and the choreographer are friends of mine. They were both there. As well as the musical director who I also knew a little. Did this familiarity give me some pacification from the sickening anxiety that was threatening to strangulate me? No. It, in fact, heightened it.
I walked into the room where they sat at a long table at the far wall, as you’d expect. Trying to keep the mood “casual”, I just started talking. Yammering. What possibly was on my mind other than the pending doom that was moments away from swallowing me whole? But yet, there I was, flapping my gums incessantly to three mildly annoyed and moderately confused faces.
I know I for sure told Steve, the director, that he was a “sexy man”. Now, I’ve never said the words “I think you are a sexy man” in my life. So what better time than during an audition. To the director.
And before you accuse me of sexual harassment, let me first say: I’ve already accused myself. Also, it’s not how it sounds – there was some discussion about the sexiness of Chicago and Amy (choreographer) may have suggested that I’m not, as it stands, “sexy” per se, so I’d have to really up my day-to-day game when it came to the dancing. Blah blah blah, Steve seemed to feel sorry for me… then somehow it flowed into me calling Steve a sexy man.
Again, I was nervously filling the air whilst literally trying to not shit in my pants.
Once I ran out of words I just stared at them for several moments. I shook my arms to relax. I cracked my neck. I took several deep breaths. I shook my arms again and jumped from foot to foot. I said “okay” seven to twelve times. More breaths. More weird dancing. More okays.
Then I finally said, “wow, I feel like I’m never going to do this” and Steve said something like “me too”.
[Christ, of course. They have, like, ten minutes per audition and I’d been in there, what, three and a half days? Jesus, Heather, sing something.]
So finally I forced the words out. I sang, “Come on, babe, why don’t we paint the town…” Just like Janice from Friends. But if she were more mannish. I don’t know why, in the moment, I felt like that was the character I was trying to embody but there ya go; I make bad decisions some(all the)times.
It was also way off tune as that inner beast trying to shut my body down entirely had it’s spindly little fingers wrapped tightly around my larynx.
So it was more like man-Janice, choking on a cracker, trying to sing. While being sexy. After being told she is not inherently sexy.
Thank the ever-loving powers that be, I was given a second and even a third chance to sing it. Steve suggested, “why don’t you sing it this time as yourself?”. Sage advice. And Darlene (music director) accompanied me on piano, so that took some of the pressure off.
Once I was able to unclench the ol’ sphincter and emerge from the ocean of social suicide I was drowning in, it was not so bad. Amy even asked me to work in some sexy dance moves (which she obviously showed me as I’m, naturally, a baboon) while singing. And it was not quite the worst thing ever so… ya know.
I didn’t poop my pants. Figuratively, yes, but literally, no! And in the moment, that was a win.
I drove home, unsure of how to feel other than “grateful to not be dead”.
I guess it was a few weeks later I got the call from Steve casually asking me if I’d “care to play the part of Velma Kelly in Chicago”. I was pretty dumbfounded but, suppressing the urge to scream “DID YOU NOT SEE THE TRAIN WRECK THAT WAS MY AUDITION?”, I casually replied, “ummm… yeah. Sure, yeah”. While aggressively pelvic thrusting the air in celebration, obviously. At work.
Fast-forward about ten weeks from that phone call: we did it. The lot of us. We made Chicago happen. A year ago I was breastfeeding a wee human and fairly confident that if I walked more than ten feet my insides were going to fall out of my vagina (#miracleofbirth, #blessed). And now I’ve been Velma Kelly.
Here I am on opening night…
Just kidding. That’s my good friend (who doesn’t even know it) Cathy Zee-Jay.
Here we are fuh realz…
The point is: what the fuck happened? And also, fuck yeah!
But it’s hard to let a big thing like this go. Hard to stop watching the videos. Hard to stop missing the people you spent all those hours with being other people. I need to let it go here, leave it in 2017 and commit to doing equally scary, ovaries-y things in 2018.
Like paying attention to this little blog I’ve been neglecting. Maybe do another show. Maybe write a show? Who knows.
Happy 2018. May you all drop trou in front of hundreds of people and shake your bon bons like it’s 1920’s Chicago. Or something like that.
I don’t know if you’ll get this but I thought I’d try! I’m so happy to read another blog from you! I have read them all so I really look forward to your new entries. You have a real talent with words. Thank you for brightening my day! 🙂
Please, please could the show travel to Calgary??? The WEST needs you!!! Keep doing everything, you amazing human!!! Love your writing and love you!!
Slow, slooooow clap!!! Those photos were amazing and undoubtedly the show a smash!! Your audition analogy took me back to Queen’s Players days. Although I’m thankful you don’t have a blog from those years! Haha. Congratulations, girl!! Xo
Great blog Heather. Great memories. “Neck-crack and arm shakes” – I was getting flashbacks to the beginning of “Can’t do it alone”. Of all my evolving favourite moments from the Chicago show, your performance of “Can’t do it alone” reigns supreme. Although being shoved off stage by you on the second night still brings a proud smile . You were outstanding, and it is so hard to comprehend you being nervous for the audition. So glad I got to stand in your shadows on stage.