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"Second String" Player Steals Home!

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My husband rocks.

Who else would read my post and send me an email reminding me of a little girl, with pipes, who once turned a “second” into a moment in the spotlight? I mean, I’d expect to hear this from my mother, who to this day, brings up my gutsy “All About Eve” moment of 1979, but my husband? Out of which bag of conversations we had eons ago did he pull this out?

I can tell you one thing.

That man deserves some lovin’.

Annie was THE musical for “little girls” in the late ’70’s and ’80’s. I was one of those obsessed Annie fans, and still regret not getting to see the original Annie with Andrea McArdle on Broadway, having to settle for Shelley Bruce in the title role. Not even Sarah Jessica Parker! But, she was fine. But Andrea was THE Annie. As a kid, I loved every piece of the show that focused on Annie and the orphans, and zoned out during all the songs I found unimportant in my 10 year old world, like Easy Street, and We’d Like To Thank You Herbert Hoover. Oh, how our tastes change. I’d return to the stage to take a stab at the role of Miss Hannigan if it were offered to me and I didn’t need to audition.

Our Elementary School, dear old Edsall Park, was one of those schools that took on the goal of doing a musical in concert version of Annie. The Annie dress was even being sold at JC Penney, so all the school needed to do was find our Annie, hire some orphans, and put on a show. There were 5 of us who auditioned for the title role and I can remember every face, and all their names sans one. There’s probably something behind that.

I even remember my audition and the choice I made to sing Tomorrow with a more upbeat quality, as in my mind, the song was about hope.

When I exited the audition, one gal said to me, (paraphrase), “You did that wrong. In the musical, which I saw on Broadway, Annie stands still next to her dog for the whole song. She’s sad.” We went into a debate about what the song meant and why I chose to take a different direction. After all, isn’t Annie saying, “The sun WILL come out tomorrow?” Whatever. Talk to the hand.

I didn’t get the part.

The double casting of Annie went to two other girls who were apparently chosen because they had lighter hair and therefore looked more like Annie. Or so I was told by the director.

Good night woman! Ever heard of a wig?

Flash forward to dress rehearsal. One of the Annie’s, (the one whose name I can’t recall), who looked soooooo much like role (not), couldn’t project past the first row. I’m not exaggerating here. There was no amplification, and no one could hear her singing. This was definitely no McArdle. This was a “Sing out Louise!” moment if ever there was one.

I was pulled aside.

Lame music teacher: Joline, would you mind standing directly behind xxx and sing “Tomorrow” with her?

Me: During the show?

Lame music teacher: Yes, during the show. Just make sure you stand directly behind her.

Me: Sure.

As if.

On the night of the show, I did what I was told. I stood directly behind this miscast Annie and began to sing the song in all my belted glory. I stood directly behind her.

And then I didn’t.

I took a step to the side. Am I to be blamed for being a hair off from standing directly behind her? Or two or three hairs? Ten? Ok, it was intentional. Pre-meditated and calculated. I admit it.

But, give me a break! This wasn’t a Hollywood musical of time gone by where the non-singing actor’s voices were dubbed. This was an elementary school. A place of learning and growth. Perhaps I was supposed to learn how to be gracious in defeat. And I probably could have, had I not been asked to actually SING THE SOLO THAT I HAD BEEN DENIED. And invisibly, at that.

I did feel a twinge of guilt when Annie’s parents played back their daughter’s “solo” on their handheld tape recorder.

But honestly, I don’t think they would have heard her regardless of whether I was standing directly behind her, a few steps to right, or crooning from inside a stall in the girls bathroom.

And this is what my husband wanted me to remember after reading my last post.

“I read it . . . and I understand . . .and sometimes you just have to step out from behind the kid and sing your heart out. You have to take a risk.”

I’m encouraged. I still have alot of “firsts” in me.

And I’m cool with hanging in the wings until my name is called in the writing world. And I will continue to seek out avenues to broaden my reader base. But don’t dare ask me to stand directly behind someone who will then take the credit for the “songs” I belt out on paper.

Especially if that person goes by the name of Annie.


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