Several years ago, I went to an open casting call for Les Miserables. The touring cast was performing in Salt Lake City, and the producers held an open audition to find new talent. I wasn’t planning to go audition. I had been married for a couple of years (to Rusty Armor), and though my heart ached every time I heard of another classmate who was cast in a Broadway touring cast or show, those dreams had long since been buried for me.
But my dad called to tell me about the audition and asked if I would go do it.
Pretty obvious how that conversation ended, right?
As I walked into the lobby of the hotel where the auditions were being held, the number of people there immediately overwhelmed me. I knew the auditions would be crowded, but there were hundreds of people waiting to be seen by the casting directors. Just then, the stage manager came into the waiting area to announce that because of the number of people that were there, they were now going to have a type-out audition.
A type-out audition is one where you walk into a room with 10-15 other people, and stand in a straight line while the casting directors look you up and down, glance at your resume, and then dismiss you if you don’t fit the physical “type” they are going for. If you’re too short, tall, have the wrong coloring – if you don’t fit, you are dismissed from the audition immediately without any opportunity to perform.
I’m 5’8” with red hair and freckles – type-out auditions are not my thing, unless it’s a production of Annie Get Your Gun. This being a Les Mis audition, I knew there was nothing I could do to make myself look more waifish and French. I almost left right then because I knew I would immediately be typed out. Why submit willingly to the rejection? Why wait to be told “no” before I got the chance to really show them what I could do?
Ironically, I made it through the type-out because of a couple of roles on my resume. I had the opportunity to sing, and I was called back to come the next day and sing again. It was a huge confidence-building experience, and I was so glad I listened to my dad.
I never heard back from the Les Mis casting directors, and as the years went by, I was haunted by that experience. What if I could have made my Broadway dreams come true? The one time I tried, I had done pretty well, and friends I had been on stage with in college were performing in New York and all over the world. I was thrilled for them and loved going to see them perform. But on days when my life was difficult, there was always a little pang of regret that I may have missed my chance. I hated feeling it, but it was there.
When my marriage to Rusty Armor ended and I suddenly had a million options before me for starting my life over again, I knew that I needed to try for Broadway. Wherever I went in my life from that point forward, I wanted to be done with any regrets. So, I tried. Not a full-blown-move-to-NYC try, but an extended-visit-to-the-city try. I went to open auditions in New York, and I auditioned for a staged workshop and made final callbacks for the ensemble. I felt confident from the experiences that I was having that if I was supposed to move to New York and make it on Broadway, that I could do it. And I wanted to do it.
But I also wanted to follow the path that the Lord had in mind for me. And with so many options before me, I knew that I had to give some serious thought and prayer to my next step. I took my options to my Heavenly Father and pled my case for moving to New York to perform.
And Heavenly Father said no.
So, I asked again. After all, this was something I REALLY wanted! A dream! A dream to use talents I felt Heavenly Father had blessed me with and I had been given stewardship over and would have the opportunity to use every day!
And He said no again.
That was hard to take at first. I felt like I’d been typed-out. Like I didn’t really have a chance to show what I could do. Instead, I was being asked to do something different - to go in a completely different direction than the one I was dreaming about. And though I was sad to stop chasing my Broadway dreams, I knew I needed to do it.
Sometimes dreams don’t turn out the way we want. Sometimes it’s just bad timing. Sometimes it’s because of someone else’s free agency. Sometimes the dream we want to chase is just not the dream for us.
Whatever the reason, it’s heartbreaking.
But the heartbreak heals. And perspective returns. Just because I wasn’t going to Broadway, that didn’t mean I should stop singing and developing my talents. All it meant was that particular performing avenue was not the one for me. Was I sad about it? Absolutely. Am I still sad about it?
But then, I look at my life and the choices I’ve made and the path I’m on. I look at my husband. I look at my children. I look at the things I have the opportunity to do because of the life I’ve had and the choices I’ve made, and I’m not sad anymore. I’m just grateful.
Grateful that my Heavenly Father knew the perfect role for me to play.
Grateful that I was willing to take the part.
--------------------------** Image from A Chorus Line found here.