A Series of Awkward Auditions

Ok are we sick of post-Oscars coverage yet? Usually I could spend weeeeeks just devouring party pictures and detailed articles about handbag sequin application but this year I'm already feeling exhausted. Somehow, deserved or not, Sunday's ceremony has spawned endless, lengthy diatribes about misogyny and racism and whether or not it breaks comedy rules to apologize for a joke, even if that "joke" involved calling a 9-year-old (the world's most awesome 9-year-old) a see-you-next-Tuesday. And while yes, we probably do need to be having these conversations, sometimes, internet, maybe we could NOT have conversations and just look at pictures of pretty poofy party princess people? I've resorted to alliteration to attempt to express just how over it I truly am. I might need to stop reading Jezebel.

Well! Now that I've gone on an angry rant about angry rants, allow me to turn the conversation to the joys of the Academy Awards, way back in the days of yore when I was but a sweet young thang, dreaming about the future. In my youth, whenever people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up I always answered that I wanted to be an Academy Award-Winning Actress. Not just actress. Academy Award-Winning Actress. Those first three words were most important. This was my dream career until I was about ... 16. I didn't do any plays or musicals or acting of any kind, because that was clearly unnecessary. I did, however, read an unhealthy amount of People Magazine. My goal never really had much to do with acting. It was all about fame.

Ohhhh how much I've changed!

I did, however, make a few pathetic attempts to get my foot in the door of that whole acting game. I knew that winning an Oscar was going to take some work. I ain't stupid. In 9th Grade I tried out for our high school's Spring Musical: Oliver! The ! is part of the name, just like that stupid band Fun. that I love/hate. But in this instance I was really excited to tell you about Oliver! so the ! is relevant. (Wasn't that sentence impossible to read? Oh Fun.! I love your catchy medleys but why must you punctuate?) I actually don't remember very much about this audition except that I was too tall to be one of the urchins, too terrible at singing to even be in the chorus and had a hard time keeping up with any of the dance steps.

Needless to say: I did not make the cast.

A pal of mine also did not make the list, so we came up with the genius idea to write our own musical that we could star in. It was a story about...wait for it...two awesome girls who try out for a musical and don't make it so they write their own musical...and star in it. Art drawn from life is always the most meaningful, no? We were in this photography class and we used our dark room time to compose our big musical number, which went like this:

We're writing our very own musical,

we hope you enjoy the show.

So sit back, relax, and take off your hats,

Cuz you're gonna like it we know!

At the third line we'd do this super cool move where we sort of dipped, like we were sitting down in a chair, and then took off our imaginary hats with a flourish.

Aaaaand that was it. The entire musical. AMAZING. Geniuses. We gave up after four lines, despite our obvious talent. A loss for the world of culture, to be sure.

But, after failing in 9th Grade, did I quit? Well, yes, I did just admit I abandoned my original musical project, so I guess I was a quitter in certain areas of life, but I did not quit auditioning. Yet. The following year our school did a production of The Wizard of Oz, everyone's favorite musical production starring midgets. I knew I lacked the talent to be Dorothy, or the Tin Man or either of the Witches or really any character whatsoever BUT I saw a way for me to get up on that stage. I would be a flying monkey! I could achieve stardom and attain the power to fly at the same time, killing the two proverbial birds with one star-making stone.

I imagined myself wearing a cute, fluffy outfit with one of those little fez caps, whizzing through the air on invisible strings, like Mary Martin in Peter Pan. Oh, how the audience would LOVE me! Unfortunately our musical theater suffered from a small budget and, perhaps a too large amount of creative vision, so our director decided that instead of flying from harnesses, our monkeys would skate around on rollerblades and convey flight via death-defying sk8r stunts.

Was I a talented roller blader? Um, no. In fact, I find roller blading terrifying. I don't like that you have to lean backwards to break and can't just put your foot down when you start going too fast. Yes, I am afraid of roller blading. I actually had that listed as one of my five personal facts on my OK Cupid profile. Another was that I don't know how fax machines work. It's really weird how that site never really worked out for me, huh? ANYWAY, I did not let this fear stop me. A friend and I foolishly assumed that no one else would really try out for this dumb role, surely the cool skater dudes were much too busy shopping for Vans and listening to Sublime and such to try out for a school musical. They'd be forced to cast us in these prime roles purely out of desperation!

We were mistaken. When we showed up to auditions that fateful afternoon the auditorium was filled, filled!, with skater boiz. Wall to wall, there they were, with their wallet chains and their wide leg pants and their regulation cool guy blades and there we were with our neon pink roller blades rescued from elementary school. Bonus to being an early developing, oversized child monster: shoes you fit into at age 9 still fit when you're 16!

The audition was simple. Start at the top of the main auditorium aisle, skate down the slight incline and when you reach the bottom, do a trick! Some boys did flips. Some jumped all the way up on to the stage. NONE of them were wearing their wrist guards. Did their mothers not lecture the on the dangers of roller blading? My friend and I contemplated just running for the hills, but we'd come too far to quit. Our names were on the sign up sheet! We would try out for this musical, and we would look great doing it.

We decided to do the audition together. We lined up at the top of the auditorium, skated warily down the aisle, and when we reached the bottom of the incline we did not jump or flip or leap up on the stage. We just slowly turned and skated out of the auditorium, and out of the school and never looked back.

I know this is going to come as a surprise to you but we were not cast as flying monkeys in that or any other musical performance. Probably for the best. If my memory serves, one of the monkey skaters broke his leg on stage on opening night. Ouch. I did help with set design that year which, so at least I got in one solid season of being a Theater Kid.

And thus, my acting dreams ended. I still secretly want to win an Academy Award, but now instead of for acting, it is for the revolutionary and amazing romantic comedy I always pretend I'm going to write. If it is anything like my attempt at musical theater, they will probably have to just cancel the Oscars all together and come up with a whole new award ceremony just for me and my greatness.

I promise I'll thank you all!

muppets of oz

Unfortch I do not have any photos from these special times, so here is a gratuitous stock photo of the Muppets Wizard of Oz which apparently starred the always great Ashanti in the role of Dorothy Gale. HOW have I never seen this production?!

We Need To Talk About Les Mis

Guys, we need to talk about something super important. No, not Palestine, but Congrats, Palestinians! I mean Les Mis. We’re under a month (Twenty Two Days More!) until the Big Hollywood Version of the World’s Greatest Musical hits theaters and I have SO many thoughts! This is going to get deeply spoilery, so if you are unfamiliar with this masterpiece than for Valjean's sake, stop reading and familiarize yourself! What have you been doing with your life?? Ok, now that those clowns are gone, let’s talk. I LOVE Les Mis. I swore I’d seen it on the stage six times but can only think of five. It’d be just like me to round up for dramatic effect. I saw it once as a kid with my family, with my 9th Grade English class after reading the (significantly less exciting) novel (I also made a gigantic barricade replica using Playmobile pieces for said class instead of doing a normal book report), once in Hershey with my dad, once on the London Stage where it originated (!) and once in Baltimore in college with this Freshman Year orientation program called Best of Baltimore, which my friends and I used to shorten it to Bob and write “Out with Bob!” on our AOL Instant Messenger Away Messages so that everyone would think we were out on dates. No one bought it, surprisingly.

This Les Mis love was instilled in me from an early age. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear my mother played it for me in utero. When we were really young we used to have a VHS Tape of that epic 10th Anniversary telethon special, plus the soundtrack (the one I just bought!) and we’d play it over and over and sing along. My sister and I would dress up and fight over who got to play the part of young Cosette. I knew how to play Castle on a Cloud on the piano at one point. Our favorite part was Javert’s Suicide, we asked our parents, who’d seen the full stage production at this point, how they had a river on stage for Javert to jump in to and they told us how they used lights to give the illusion of water. So every time that song came around we’d get out flashlights and wave them around on the wood floor in the family room, because, you know, it’s totally normal for young children to play-act musical suicides in their spare time (WTF, parents?) and just as he’d come to his climax and leap off the bridge, my little sister would yell “BYE BYE, JAVERT!” A few weeks or months later they finally took us to see the show when it toured to Hershey and sho’ nuff, the actor playing Javert gives his rousing final performance - the bridge lifts, the lights make the river wild, he belts “No way to go onnnnn....” and he leaps of...and out in the audience, young Maggie, probably five at the time (seriously, parents, WTF?) yells out: “BYE BYE, JAVERT!!”  Adorable. She did not get thrown out of the theater, surprisingly, but DID get forcefully removed from a performance of Phantom of the Opera at the National Theatre in DC a few months later. God bless our parents trying so hard to instill some culture in their ridiculous children.

So I think I’ve made it clear that Les Mis means something to me. Deeply and passionately. I have many, many, MANY thoughts about this upcoming Hollywood Edition. If I dedicated just 7% of the time I spend worrying about the Les Mis movie to my job I could be the mothaflippin CEO. I need more hobbies.

So here we go: some very loosely connected, only mildly edited, totally rambling thoughts leading up to the 12/25/12 Premiere of Les Mis: The Movie:The Masterpiece:OMFG:

1.) Ok, the first thing to consider when thinking about Les Mis is, this story is ridiculous. Like, have you ever taken a step back to consider this plot? So Jean Valjean is basically this great guy, he steals some bread, goes to jail and becomes enemies with his jail guard Javert. He gets out, steals some silver, blah blah blah whatever, becomes the mayor of some French town and WHO should have moved to said town but his old frenemy Javert! And Javert is now like, police chief or something and is STILL freaking obsessed with hunting down Valjean, who he views as basically the Charles Manson of Bread Thievery and he thinks he’s finally going to get him but wait! Valjean, who in addition to being the mayor is also some kind of factory manager, comes across some former employee of his, Fantine, who he fired and is now a dying prostitute and he feels so guilty for her pathetic life that he agrees to adopt her secret child who is living with some random insane innkeepers somewhere so before Javert can go arrest him he runs off to the creepy inn to rescue this child and then fast forward 10 years, Valjean’s in Paris now and guess who else lives there: Javert AND the crazy innkeepers! It’s like Saved by the Bell when everyone goes to the same college. So Fantine’s secret child Cosette is now a teenager and is totally DTF and she’s walking in the street one day and sees this guy Marius and they barely lock eyes and are suddenly In Love, all caps, and they’re drawing EVERYONE into their stupid Romeo & Juliet story - Marius is in some student uprising war and basically gets his best friend Eponine (who has the total hots for him) murdered by the opposition because he’s making her run letters back to his true love Cosette instead of just nutting up and talking to her himself (I hate Marius) and meanwhile, Cosette’s adoptive dad, Valjean has joined the student uprising so he can spy on his daughter’s boyfriend, which, like, have him over for a pot roast or something, isn’t this a bit much? And THEN Javert shows up and tries to throw Valjean in jail AGAIN even though it’s been about 45 years and 4 cities since he arrested him for Bread Thievery in the first place but Valejan is super nice to him, which Javert just can not handle, so he throws himself off a bridge which, again, is a little much. I think Javert might need to get laid. And I know just the gal to do it! (It’s me, in case I didn’t make that clear.) And then blah blah revolution a lot of people die except Marius because Valjean saves him because True Love and while he’s dragging him away from the barricades who should they encounter but the Crazy Innkeepers! Who OF COURSE are just hanging around. I love this story, I do, I do! But I think all of the characters are insane. They bring their problems on themselves. If they all just minded their own beeswax instead of getting all involved in everyone else’s lives, NONE of this would have happened! Javert would still be alive, Valjean would be off mayoring somewhere, Cosette would probably not have been rescued and would have died a sad prostitute like her mother but whatever, thems the breaks, kid. Everyone mind ya business.

Except don’t, because your dumb antics make for one perfect musical.

2) Can we discuss Anne Hathaway for a quick sec? I haaaaaate her! Though I obviously love Princess Diaries and Devil Wears Prada I find Annie herself to be just so...ughh. So much. I know I’m drinking major haterade and it’s a total cliche to hate A. Hathz, but I do. So sue me. I also hate Zooey Deschanel so I’m about the most cliched hater there is. That said, her rendition of Dreamed a Dream is NOT BAD! And even if she’s annoying, we can take comfort in knowing she’ll die quickly. RIP Fantine!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rbNt1FXAuBI]

3) At least Nick Jonas isn’t playing Marius, though he is the hottest of the Jonas Brothers.

4) Though who really cares who plays Marius because homeboy is BORING. I don’t understand when all the ladies (well, two of the ladies) get their 1800’s bloomer style panties in such a twist about dumb snoozeville Marius, especially when they’ve got ENJOLRAS around. Enjolras is hot shit, you guys. He’s the leader of the student revolution, always wears amazing vests and he really cares. He’s so passionate! He’s like that sexy guy in college who actually read the newspaper and went on to do the Peace Corps. I don’t know if you guys have recently watched the 25th Anniversary Telethon (we watched it 2 times this Thanksgiving alone, what of it), but the guy who plays Enjolras in that version can get it ANY DAY. LOOK at this man:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=51mh9Ys6ZHk]

1800’s bloomer style panties ON THE FLOOR. He’s saving France while boring Marius/Nick Jonas is mooning over some girl he’s spoken to 3 times. Get it together, Bro.  Enjolras’ real name is Ramin Karimloo and heis half Iranian-Half Canadian and also played the Phantom on the West End stage and I am now following on Twitter @raminkarimloo aaaaand I think we might get married.

Though I prefer him in this vest:

ramin(yum. photo via singaholic confessions)

I’m thisclose to asking Brian to wear French epaulettes for intimate role playing purposes. (Sorry mom!)

5) The guy who plays Enjolras in the movie has … interesting hair: (yum?? photo via IMDB)

I don’t know how I feel about this.

6) Speaking of nervous making casting choices, let’s just get right to it: Russell Crowe. I’ve said before the deep passion I oddly feel for poor Javert, who just wants to do what he thinks is right, and Javert sings one of my All Time Favorite ballads, Stars:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fB1OgS0MuBs]

Are you crying? If not, you might not have a soul.

Russell Crowe was great in that movie Gladiator and I’m sure he’s a great fellow (though, from what I’ve read in People magazine, he’s not that charming IRL), but I just don’t know that he can deliver this character! Javert requires discipline, vocal power and the tiniest bit of emotional vulnerability. And we’re leaving it up to this guy??

no (YIKES. photo via fitperez)

I don’t feel good about this!!!

7) That said, I’m all on board for Hugh Jackman as Valjean. He’s amazing. But I might be biased because Hugh and I are basically besties. Not to brag but I’ve seen him walking around the West Village with his kids THREE times. Do you think he’ll invite me to the Oscars?

8) How great is Eponine? <3

9) Remember THIS???

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LpV8avjVtxo]

LOL

10) While we’re LOLing, have you seen this clip of various actors from all over the world who have played Valjean coming together to sing a medley of One Day More in their native languages?

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KPpkTgMbhRU]

Is it ethnocentric that I find this hilarious??? Hilariously awesome, but still. It’s amazing. First they all parade out with flags of their country, like it’s the Olympic Opening Ceremony or something and there’s A JAPANESE VALJEAN, you guys. And a Hungarian one who looks JUST like you’d imagine a Hungarian guy to look. And they all have the most perfectly stereotypical names, like Henk Poort from The Netherlands or the Austrian gentleman Reinhard Brussman.

And yet, despite making fun of these gentleman, this song STILL makes me cry. I need help!

11) Did you know there is a pornographic actor named Jean Val Jean?? I didn’t until doing research tonight. Don’t click through this link! Or do! I don’t know what you’re into! Thanks to him there’s an actual movie called Sexual Exploits of Jean Valjean. I miiiight have to rent it.

12) How much Les Mis fanfic do you think is out there? Do you think there’s a big market for erotic fiction about Enjolras having generally vanilla sex with a book publicist who travels back in time from the 21st Century? Asking for a friend!

13) Oh yeah! Helena Bonham Carter & Sascha Baron Cohen as the Thenardiers. I think it’s kind of perfect! I love HBC. Did you know that she & Tim Burton are next door neighbors instead of living together? I kind of love it.

14) Watch this and don’t cry, I dare you:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s-0MS72uHSQ]

Goosebumps.

14) And then watch this:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CJnjcX8skXk]

OK. Are you crying NOW? Marius is still dumb but, OK, he can sing, and all of his sexy friends are dead :( :( :(

Good lord. I’ve just written 2,171 words about this and I could go on all night. But I’ll stop here. What about you?? Are you excited for Les Mis? Do you have some weird, awkward childhood connection to the musical? Do you like Anne Hathaway? What's your favorite song? Clearly I'm insane, but I know I'm not alone in this. We have 3 weeks to get through until we can see this film. We'll get through it together!

Ok, one more for the road:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nwAgQA5gVVE]

PS: some more fantastic reading on the subject: http://thoughtcatalog.com/2012/20-things-to-do-while-waiting-for-the-les-miserables-movie/

(Super similar to this, but full disclaimer: I wrote this before reading her piece, such is the internet, we must just be kindred spirits!)