Sandra Tsing Loh gives her 10-year old daughter a crash course on Broadway musicals.
So my normally SHY 10 year old daughter has SUDDENLY caught the acting bug-- So we thought we’d ALLOW her to audition for a performing arts ACADEMY-- For MIDDLE school-- But when I LOOK at the audition "guidelines" my bowels turn to ice. What?
In just TWO weeks, because we got started so LATE, my NOODLE-like DAUGHTER is expected to perform, without laughing:
A one minute dramatic monologue
A one minute excerpt from a Broadway musical
A dance combination
"Oh my God!" I wail. "My daughter doesn’t even KNOW what a Broadway musical IS." "Nor SHOULD she," declared my friend MOIRA, stoutly-- And perhaps SO, but we were doomed. I had forgotten that while this was PUBLIC middle school, this is also LOS ANGELES. Land of SHOW families where even the YOUNGEST member can warble lyrics from Pippin and Fiddler but unfortunately WE are not THAT kind of Danskin leotard and capezios family.
"‘Attach photo and resume’?" I cry out. "My GOD! What happened to childhood? It’s sixth grade and she JUST wants to run around on in the auditorium!"
In show biz, though, there’s no time for REGRETS. I attempt to give my daughter, raised in less KIND and gentle TIMES than myself, a crash COURSE in The Broadway Musical. "Maddy, do you remember that Will Farrell movie where he’s jumping through lava and singing ‘God, I hope I get it’? Or when Sponge Bob sings, ‘Where have all the staplers gone?’ Or when the Simpsons--? Anyway! Those PARODIES are all of BROADWAY MUSICALS."
My MOTHER friend Noni, whose SON goes to LACHSA, the LA County performing arts HIGH school? She ADVISES me that if my 10 year old daughter has--well--no skills or training. . . What we can do is at least pick a MUSICAL SONG that shows theatrical SOPHISTICATION, some knowledge of breaking the form, like a SONDHEIM.
So I take my daughter to our local hip VIDEO store-- You know? Where they CLASSIFY movies by DIRECTORS? Alan Resnais, Cassavetes, Kurosawa? But TURNING and SPINNING, no, what my daughter lifts BLISSFULLY off the shelf is CATS. Did I TELL you that my daughter loves CATS? Not the musical, actual cats.
And MYSELF periomenopausal, I am HAUNTED by a worrisome IMAGE:
Of my sunnily HOPEFUL preteen DAUGHTER warbling Memories on a giant empty STAGE full of. . . alley trash. But unlike Andrew Lloyd Webber’s hit Broadway show of 15 years, it is LITERALLY trash because our family is so NOT up to the challenge of GETTING INTO SIXTH GRADE and if this audition DETERMINES the entire COURSE of her future including college she literally WILL be. . . like a homeless Jellicle cat. With only a leotard and a pair of fur ears to keep her warm!
Next week: I become a Volvo WAGON-driving Grizabella.