Tired of being just another pleb on campus, Emily Longworth set her sights on stardom at the UCD Musical Society auditions
For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be ridiculously popular. It’s not unreasonable; in our heart of hearts I think we all want a disproportionately high amount of acclaim. Or perhaps it’s just me. Regardless, having not yet achieved unconditional adoration from everyone else in the world, I’ve been re-evaluating my methods. One truth that became clear to me in my years of secondary school education was that the annual school musical would always be responsible for the production of an idol. Amidst a community of plebs, commoners and unfortunate-looking people there would be one amazing person who outshines them, and thus, a star is born. Years later, these people will feature on quality programming such as The Voice of Ireland. Naturally, I envy them.
So when I was given the chance to audition for the Musical Society’s production of Hercules – the musical adaption of the popular Disney film – I couldn’t turn it down. It was like the premise of the teen drama Glee had come into my life, and I was going to be the good-looking one (but without the pregnancy). There was no greater incentive to audition for the lead role in the musical than knowing the reward would be instant stardom.
Realising my vocation, I signed up for the auditions, minutes before they began. The first part of the star-searching process was the singing and acting audition. It had not occurred to me before I attended that I should need to practice, or even prepare anything at all. By nature of becoming an overnight star, the trivial issue of my actual talent would cease to have any relevance. This is one of the many life lessons that The X Factor has taught me. Prior to the audition, and in the spirit of Disney films, my game plan was to give them the ol’ razzle-dazzle. It couldn’t go wrong.
After introducing myself to the panel of three friendly judges, I was asked which role I would be auditioning for. Failing to consider that this may be asked of me, and not knowing any character names, I had only a few seconds to make a half-baked guess about which role I was going for. I settled on Megusa. They assured me that there was no such character in Hercules named this. Perhaps I meant either Megorrah or Medusa, they suggested. I went for the former; she sounded less evil.
Once the judges worked out that I had little to no knowledge of the musical in question, they kindly allowed me a few seconds to read over my lines silently. I was told that speaking with an American accent was preferable, but no particular regional dialect was specified. I decided to fall back on the old reliable: New Jersey. It worked out well for me. Undoubtedly satisfied, the judges moved swiftly on to the singing part of the audition.
Having never willingly partaken in formal singing in my whole life, this was undeniably the most difficult hurdle to clear on my path to fame. While my competition were rehearsing ‘A star is born’ and ‘Go the distance’ in the stairwells of the Newman building days in advance, I had been at home on Facebook. So, at the moment of the audition, I was left to choose between the only two songs I was certain I knew any of the actual the words to: Aretha Franklin’s ‘I say a little prayer’, and Neil Young’s ‘Tell me why’. Despite my enduring partiality to the latter, it was substantially less suitable for the occasion. By process of elimination I settled for Aretha Franklin.
My over-confidence quickly disintegrated when I found myself unable to recall the melody of both the verse and the chorus to my chosen song, but having already committed to it, I decided to follow through. I sang the bridge, and only the bridge, for all of four seconds. Needless to say, it was a glorious recovery. I took a bow and promptly left.
Day two of try-outs was the dance audition. Truly, this is where I was in my element. I donned my finest pair of legwarmers and a leotard that would make Geri Halliwell proud. I arrived at the group dance audition with my own routine prepared, just in case I needed one. Unfortunately, the judges were not convinced by my twenty minutes of jazz hands. Obligingly, I agreed to learn the dance that was being instructed to the group. Contrary to my expectations, it was complicated, very fast and ridiculously difficult. When I looked around at my fellow hopefuls, I noticed that they seemed to have some sort of passion or zeal for what they were doing. It was at this point that I began to think the ability to endure the dance audition would take more than a fabulous ensemble. I took my legwarmers and left.
A few days later I was notified that I did not get the part of Megorrah, Megusa or even Medusa. Although I was not surprised, I did cry myself to sleep for many nights afterwards, for a small part of me had died. Maybe some day I’ll pursue the dream again, through any medium other than musical theatre. And some day, I’ll go the distance, and become a star.