That’s Show­biz

Au­di­tion peo­ple while look­ing enig­matic? Me? Not likely!

Woman's Weekly (UK) - - Rosemary -

As they say on TV every five min­utes, we are all on ‘a jour­ney’

Read­ers with rather long mem­o­ries might re­mem­ber how my friend Brassy Bar­bara phoned up one morn­ing and blud­geoned me into di­rect­ing the am­a­teur dra­matic so­ci­ety’s pro­duc­tion of The Pi­rates of Pen­zance.

‘Mmm, I don’t know,’ I said. ‘I’ve never done any­thing like that be­fore.’

‘That’s why the com­mit­tee thought of you,’ she said. ‘You’ll bring a fresh look.’

This does not al­ways in­stil the great­est of con­fi­dence, does it?

Pic­ture the scene: ‘Ladies and gen­tle­man, this is your cap­tain speak­ing. To be hon­est, un­til this morn­ing I was sell­ing duty-free per­fume, but the air­line thought I’d bring a fresh look to the con­trols of this Boe­ing 757. Now, is there any­body on board who ac­tu­ally knows how to fly?’

I dis­tinctly re­mem­ber say­ing I’d think about it and get back to her. The next thing I knew, peo­ple were ring­ing up to ask if they could play The Pi­rate King, or won­der­ing if I needed a make-up lady, or of­fer­ing to paint a back­drop of A Ru­ined Chapel By Moon­light for Act II.

And now here I am in the vil­lage hall, rather ner­vous and con­duct­ing our first public au­di­tion.

‘You won’t ac­tu­ally have to do any­thing,’ Bar­bara as­sured me. ‘Just sit there and look enig­matic or some­thing. And, what­ever Ivan says, just nod en­thu­si­as­ti­cally and agree with him.’

Ivan is our mu­si­cal direc­tor – which is, with­out doubt, the most im­por­tant job in any mu­si­cal. My role, es­sen­tially, is to make sure ev­ery­body turns up to re­hearsals, to make the odd sug­ges­tion about where the cast should be stand­ing, and to tell ev­ery­body how won­der­ful they are. It’s Ivan’s job to make them sing in tune.

Here are his qual­i­fi­ca­tions for the job: 1. He plays the or­gan at a nearby church. 2. He runs a small orches­tra that gives con­certs for char­ity.

3. He or­gan­ises com­mu­nity carol singing every Christ­mas.

4. He can play tunes on the ukulele that aren’t even by Ge­orge Formby.

But his main qual­i­fi­ca­tion is that he looks the part: he wears the sort of green, cor­duroy jacket which seems to in­spire con­fi­dence in the lo­cal arts world. He has long, artis­tic hair that is grey­ing and looks as if he bor­rowed it from a bearded col­lie, and he also has a de­cid­edly artis­tic beard. ‘We’ll get ev­ery­body to sing a lit­tle solo – any­thing they fancy – and then we’ll see what they sound like to­gether,’ he says to me, pulling ar­tis­ti­cally at that beard. ‘Does that meet with your ap­proval?’

Oddly enough, that does meet with my ap­proval. Es­pe­cially as – from what I can make out – my con­tri­bu­tion to the evening will be to sit in a chair, look­ing im­por­tant and try­ing not to fid­get.

Brenda, who works at the chemist, is first up. ‘Tonight, Ivan,’ she an­nounces, ‘I am go­ing to be Adele.’

Brenda then belts out Some­one Like You, with Ivan ac­com­pa­ny­ing her on the pi­ano, as if her life de­pended on some­body in the Outer He­brides hear­ing the lyrics quite clearly. (Be­lieve me, she is wasted sell­ing sun­tan lo­tion and parac­eta­mol.) When she fin­ishes, the en­tire hall bursts into ap­plause. If Adele had writ­ten The Pi­rates of Pen­zance, Brenda would be at the top of our list.

Tim, who is a mo­tor me­chanic and who once brought the house down as an am-dram Her­cule Poirot (he vir­tu­ally needed at­ten­dants to carry his mous­tache like a bridal train), then sings Let It Be by The Bea­tles.

Let me ad­mit straight­away that I am no mu­si­cal ex­pert. I have been known to sing along if Mr Dear plays the pi­ano, but that very much de­pends on the lo­cal sup­ply of Pros­ecco. How­ever, it strikes me that TV tal­ent shows are def­i­nitely hav­ing an ef­fect on the way peo­ple sing. All the women now sound as if they’ve just been told that their boyfriend has dumped them for their younger sister, and the men as if their football team has just been rel­e­gated.

As they say on TV about every five min­utes these days, we are all on ‘a jour­ney’. And what I have dis­cov­ered along the way is that I am not the stuff of which great lead­ers are made. Great lead­ers in the world of light mu­si­cal com­edy are the sort of peo­ple who can look a mid­dle-aged wo­man in the eye – a mid­dle-aged shop as­sis­tant, what’s more, who slices ham just the way you like it – and say, ‘I’m sorry, dar­ling, but your voice sounds like my cat run­ning its claws down a black­board.’

Me, I just sim­per: ‘Ooh, that was lovely!’ Through all this, if you re­mem­ber, I am sup­posed to be look­ing enig­matic. But look­ing enig­matic at au­di­tions turns out to be much more dif­fi­cult than it looks.

You want to be en­cour­ag­ing, after all, but you don’t want to give any­thing away…

So I adopt that ex­pres­sion Si­mon Cow­ell puts on when con­fronted by a singing vicar, or a dog that plays the banjo. You know, the look that says, ‘I’m a lit­tle bit puz­zled, but I’m also in­trigued.’

After about an hour of this ex­cru­ci­at­ing ef­fort, Bar­bara brings me a cup of tea.

‘Are you all right?’ she whis­pers.

‘I’m fine,’ I whis­per back, not en­tirely hon­estly. ‘Why do you ask?’

‘It’s just the way you’re screw­ing up your face,’ she says. ‘I thought per­haps you might have in­di­ges­tion.’

‘That’s not in­di­ges­tion, Bar­bara,’

I mut­ter back at her. ‘I’m look­ing enig­matic, just like you told me to.’

‘Ah, I see,’ said Bar­bara, slip­ping some­thing into her pocket and look­ing slightly em­bar­rassed.

‘What have you got there?’ I whis­pered. ‘Never mind,’ said Bar­bara. ‘It’s doesn’t mat­ter now.’

‘No, go on. Show me.’

She showed me.

It was a packet of Ren­nies.

So much for enig­matic.

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