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Channeling Billie Burke

I am thrilled to report that after far too long a time, I am going to be back performing on the stage! I found out last night that I have been cast as the Good Witch of the North in Pentacle Theatre’s production of The Wizard of Oz. It will be the first weekend of January 2012. I am very excited. I miss performing like I would miss a limb and the prospect of doing it again makes me sort of giddy and giggly.


I was terribly nervous to audition last week- ridiculously so considering my advanced age and supposed level of experience. I guess it goes to show that you never really get over the nerves. It is one level of stress to perform; it is a totally different level of anxiety to audition. Auditioning means putting yourself out there, opening yourself up to criticism, judgment, the unknown; in a word, being vulnerable. Will they like me? Am I good enough? And in my case, “Can I still do this? Do I remember how to sing, act, connect?” You try to tell yourself it’s not ME that they are judging, it’s my voice, but come on, who are we kidding? It is you that they are judging. Our singing, our voice IS us. It is practically impossible to untangle the two. And frankly, I’m not sure we should anyway. Our voice is us with all of our beauty, flaws, and individuality.


I searched my brain and truly cannot remember the last time I auditioned- must have been at least 5 or 6 years ago…probably some disheartening operatic audition that I never heard back from… Which leads me to sincerely thank Pentacle Theatre and the Oz production staff. The audition process was practically painless if you can imagine such a thing. Everyone was friendly and low-key but also professional. I felt like they were actually paying attention to each person auditioning. What a concept! How many times have I auditioned when the auditioner never even looked up! When they were so eager to leave for lunch that they left the room before I did! (true story) And unless you get the part, forget about actually hearing back from them. Demoralizing and dehumanizing. It doesn’t take that much to treat each singer in front of you as a human with feelings. This does not mean you have to hire everyone or tell everyone how great they are. But the least you can do is acknowledge that they are probably nervous and worked hard to be standing in front of you. And actually listen to them. Watch them. Have some simple courtesy for your fellow human. But, back to my original point before my mini-rant, this experience was lovely. Even the callbacks were as relaxed and positive as could be- they even clapped when each person finished. You felt human and valued. And they got back to you when they said they would! Remarkable.


And happily, I got the part! I’m glad to know all those years watching The Wizard of Oz paid off.  Thank you Billie Burke! You were right there with me, whispering inspiration into my ear with your sweet, trilly voice. “Are you a good witch or a bad witch? Which?”  I am honored to follow in your footsteps. The big question is: do I get to wear the fabulous glittery ball gown complete with wings?! Please, please, please…


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