Sandra Tsing Loh is nervous about her 10-year old daughter's audition for a middle school performing arts academy.
As enlightened PARENTS of this modern AGE, we would no sooner SPANK our children than be NEGATIVE to them. To be NAYSAYERS. To crush their dreams.
And yet, with EACH child born. . . in America, there COMES the moment when he THRILLINGLY declares: "I am going to be the youngest kid ever to win 12 Olympic gold medals!" And the only REASONABLE response is, "YES--and although you are FAIRLY young--nine--? Small COMPLICATION is that you ACTUALLY don’t play any sports. Not that I don’t. . . believe in you, superstar."
I had been STRUGGLING with this RECENTLY, as my 10 year old DAUGHTER had caught the ACTING bug. Maddy had suddenly DECIDED to AUDITION for a MIDDLE school performing arts ACADEMY and. . . well? Never mind the question of TALENT. Except for pouting and sulking and getting hysterical over a pimple, I don’t know how much acting talent 10 year old GIRLS can be said to have. No, the problem was that my daughter had no PERFORMANCE skills, as she had had no actual training.
I had BEEN one of those crunchy-granola NON-competitive mothers who believed summer was for lazing AROUND, playing with MUD, chasing butterflies. Fast forward 10 summers LATER, and we are surrounded by KIDS who have starred in the Nutcracker four TIMES already, they can poke your EYE out with a thousand dollar VIOLIN bow and TAP-dance like Savion GLOVER. Oh no.
Never mind getting into the SCHOOL or not-- Which I was not CONVINCED was really possible-- Not that I wanted to be NEGATIVE-- My main WORRY was that the audition ITSELF would be one of those TRAUMATIC childhood experiences, because she WASN’T properly prepared. As I THINK comedian Dana GOULD once so PERFECTLY put it, "I always come OUT of an audition holding my clothes in a pile, weeping."
So in the--yes--10 short DAYS we have to PREPARE for the audition, I instigate a kind of BROADWAY camp home SCHOOL program. In the morning we do stretches and short DANCE routines I make UP on the fly--step step STEP turn! Step step CLAP turn! I COACH her on announcing herself: ""Today I will be performing a monologue from Love, Loss and What I Wore, by Nora Ephron." "No," I say, "even better, say ‘by the GREAT’--and then take a beat and give big SMILE--‘Nora Ephron.’"
I figure SOMEONE Jewish may be in the casting room, and they may ENJOY that. "Memories" from Cats was still a problem, because Maddy and I could not agree on what the melody actually was. She began to worry over what to WEAR-- Never mind what SHE was going to wear, what was I, her anxious stage mother, going to wear? This was my big debut!
Next week: High Noon on Broadway.