“Tetris taught me that fitting in makes you disappear.”
-I have no clue
Yesterday I did one of the best but also worst auditions of my life, and as I left the audition room, I laughed and gave myself a High Five because now I had some great material to write about! I had to ask myself later;
“Did I purposely sabotage my audition for a story?” Man, am I a devoted artist, I tell ya. Here I could’ve been signing a contract, heading to New York and touring on a cruise ship but instead I destroyed my own audition, just to bring you a laugh.
Yesterday was a day that I decided not to put all my focus on my audition. Usually if I have an audition I try to keep my day calm, eat well and make sure I’m ready to go. But yesterday I decided it would be more helpful to have a life outside of auditioning. So I got up early, went to the gym, went shopping, picked my audition piece on the train ride to the audition… In my defense, I only got this gig two days earlier!
So I roll up in my full 50’s get up (because why on earth would I want to be a clone at an audition when you need to stand out!) and register with a bunch of legs who all look like they belong to Barbie. Registration always reminds me of that scene in Mean Girls where the Plastics get home after school and rip themselves apart in Regina George’s Mirror.
“OMG, I should have gone on a diet.”
“Is she really singing that?”
“Am I really singing that?”
“Why am I even here?”
And I just wander in, sit next to someone and lead in with “hey friend” in the most genuine way… Why do people think I’m being snarky? I’m lovely.
The wait in open calls is probably the worst. You sit there with all these other strangers, some who can’t get enough of their own voice and sing warm ups over and over loudly at other people, (we get it, you can sing, shut your mouth) some who have no problem getting naked and changing their outfit in the corridor, the token one male who has turned up and sits by himself just kind of staring, and we all know he’s going to get the gig because he’s a boy.
I walk out of the bathroom after my third nervous pee and the someone from the panel has come out looking for me, oh whoops, that’s not a good start.
“We’re ready when you are.”
“Oh good, a queen is never late, everyone else is simply early!”
Oh. My. Gosh. Did I just say that? Did I just say to a casting director that I want to hire me that she is a peasant and I am a queen? I made them wait for me and now I’m calling them common people. Clearly off to a good start.
I walk in, have a chat to the pianist about my first song and we have a holistic three second jam session. The first song goes, and it’s awesome, basically just 16 bars of me yelling enthusiastically about New York, which I have never been to.
They request another song, okay okay, this is a good sign! So that finishes and they take some notes and smile and ask for a third… Wow, okay! This is very good.
So here I go, third song. A real banger this tune, Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend (A motto to live by, ladies). And I get cocky… So I’m standing there in front of this panel of judges from New York, singing this Monroe Classic and thinking about the fabulous ending I plan to wow them with, and suddenly I can’t find my note. I’m halfway through a song I have been singing since I was 14 and I cannot for the life of me remember how the ending goes. So I just stop. I have never ever done this in my life. I stop in the middle of this room. I walk around in a circle, like a freaking dog that’s chasing it’s tail. And the music is still going! They let it play right to the end while I stand there and say:
“Oh… Sh*t, I am so sorry. I have NEVER done this in my life. Oh Sh*t, the music is still going. Oh Sh*t, I just said Sh*t. I don’t really swear either. Do you want me to like, go again?”
“Thank you, that’s all we need. You can go.”
Hey, well at least I turned up…
Moving to Sydney to be an actor has come with a lot of questions, the most common of all, do you have any acting work yet? Which to clarify, yes and no, it takes between 3 to 5 years to really become established and get regular acting work, so I hear. And apparently three years of acting school doesn’t count!
I’ve had a few really great things here and there, and definitely some funny experiences. My one woman cabaret show is looking funnier by the day.
Chelsea isn’t always Chelsea in an audition room. And then sometimes, Chelsea is a little too Chelsea.
Last year I had this audition for a gig I wasn’t set on but could definitely use. It was one of my first professional auditions. And it went a little like this;
“Hi Chelsea, I’m Greg.” (I don’t remember his name but for the sake of this, let’s call him Greg.)
“Hi Greg, I’m Chelsea, wait, you know that, wait, oh my gosh sorry.”
“Chelsea bring over a chair.”
Proceeds to pick up a chair, finds it is waaaay too heavy, drags pathetically into the middle of the stage…
“Chelsea, you realize you’ve grabbed a stack of three?” Greg rudely points out. Like, why did he have to point that out? Why couldn’t we just pretend that never happened. Maybe I’m short when I sit and like the extra height, or maybe I wanted to show off my strength.
“Yeah, I just… in case… we have guests.” Why can’t I ever stop talking?
“Awesome monologue Chelsea, can you do it again with an Australian accent?”
“Yeah sure..” proceeds to forget the entire monologue and somehow adopts a South African accent.
Earlier this year I signed up for my first audition in Sydney. Universal Studios Singapore. That would’ve been a cool gig. So there were two sections: singers who can dance and dancers who can sing. I signed up for singers who can dance, and by dance I mean move relatively okay in time to a funky tune. I turn up with 400 others as we pack into a crowded dance studio and fill out forms that ask questions as invasive as “have you ever been pregnant?” And “have you had a smear test?” And I have to stop myself from writing, “9 months pregnant, Virgin Mary Part Two, plan to give birth here today as more memorable.” Why does no one else find me funny?
Here I spend a long three hours waiting to sing when I find out, all singers have been lumped in with dancers, and they only want to hear our best 16 bars instead of the full two minute song. I frantically tear through my music and in a hot sweat get into the room and look at a panel of judges. I belt out the best 28 bars I have (cause I’m a rebel and 16 bars is a joke). The panel looks up, impressed (of course) and invites me back to dance. Probably the most embarrassing afternoon of my life.
90 of us have gotten a callback, so yeah it’s an honour, but an 8 hour day is not what I signed up for. It seems they’ve put 50 of us in the first call back and we all cram into a dance studio to learn a routine. Arms are flying, legs are kicking, death is in the air, or maybe that’s the girl next to me trying to do a backflip in less space than a high school bathroom stall.
We learn the routine, wait around another hour and finally get our callback. As I’m standing in the line surrounded by tall, tanned goddesses in the latest dance fashions (I had no idea fishnets had made a comeback!) I overhear some terrible news. We have to improvise. Not only have we learned a two minute routine of hip hop dancing, which I have never done in my life, we have to improv the first half of the song. What. Am. I. Doing?
We are split into small groups of four. Four. All exposed. In our small groups of four we get up in front of every other dancer and the panel of judges to show them what we’ve got. What we’ve got?
“Just show them what you’ve got.” Says the girl next to me. The catchphrase of auditions.
So one by one each group goes up and I watch these people do pirouettes in crazy amounts, backflips, the splits, Cossacks, handstands, cartwheels.
Next group, “…and Chelsea Gaiger.”
So I take up my spot, at the front, I can’t even copy anyone. The music starts. And I’m thinking about what I’ve got to show. If I was singing this would be a piece of cake. Unless it was Diamonds are a Girls Best Friend.
So I bust out my best 80’s dance moves, the sprinkler, the running man, the kriss kross, the worm. Look, if they’re going to make a singer dance, they’re going to have to deal with these moves, they brought it on themselves. I aggressively robot my way out of this situation… no I’m kidding.
I wish that’s what I did. I just stood there. The music played and I stood there. I’m really on a roll with this freezing stuff. No Fight or Flight here, it’s all Freeze. Staring at the people staring back at me, hearing the girl behind me throwing herself around in some contemporary way, feeling the sweat dripping down my forehead in panic. Improv? I didn’t have time for that, I had to re-memorise all that hip hop crap I’d just learned. The routine part started, someone felt for me and got up to do it in front of me so I knew what the heck was going on.
Numbers were called, I was not one. I was relieved, I went home to a glass of wine and called it a day.
Okay, so it wasn’t my gig. Had the audition been the one I actually turned up for I’m sure things would have gone much better. But hey, some cool chick got a contract out of that and I got to stay in Sydney. So maybe it’s for the best.
Auditions are not easy. But they get better. There’s also been plenty of successes along the way. When I first got my agent I did celebratory lunges across the lounge screaming “YAS!” And from there many other great things have happened. But let’s be honest, the embarrassing stuff is much more entertaining.
“Laugh loudly, laugh often but most importantly, laugh at yourself.”