Always try to be Glinda


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So, I auditioned for “Glinda”… but was offered “Auntie Em.”


But… Okay!!! I’ll be the best Auntie Em ever! At least I’ll get to holler, “DoroTHEE!!!” into the face of the tornado (which haunted my childhood dreams and still swirls up from time to time).

There’s a lesson to be learned here… shoot for what you really want, and if you don’t get it, you may still get something pretty cool. If you aim for a talking tree, you’ll only be a talking tree. And if you don’t shoot at all, well, you get zippo.

How could I not try out for “The Wizard of Oz” when the Winters Theatre Company announced auditions? The movie’s part of my DNA. Remember back in the ’60s, when “The Wizard of Oz” only came on once per year, signifying the beginning of the holiday season? We watched faithfully, mesmerized, knowing it’d soon be followed by “A Charley Brown Christmas” and “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” and then… deck the halls, baby! Santa Claus is coming!

I’ve seen “The Wizard of Oz” so many times, I could probably recite every line right along with the movie. And Glinda, well, I was born to play Glinda. I can channel Glinda. Unfortunately, so could several others who auditioned.

Poor Anita Ahuja, the director. She had to sift through so many talented people. There were as many Glindas as there were munchkins in Munchkinland, several Cowardly Lions who could “Woof… and WOOF” with the best of them, and the Dorothys. Ah, the Dorothys. They should reconvene as a singing group because they all sang like angels. I don’t know how Anita picked one. Maybe “eenie meeni miney mo” or a dartboard? Any one of them would’ve been stellar.

The over-abundance of Dorothys even inspired a stage play I’d like to write: “Too Many Dorothys.” It’ll be a comedy murder mystery, and I’ll get cracking on it, right after I finish all the other half-started screenplays and books I’ve started and forgotten about because of my chronically overscheduled lifestyle, and also because — SQUIRREL!!!

So, despite having a full-time job, a massage business, and a horse that occupies all my free time, of course the logical thing to do was to shoe-horn one more major activity into all that. I have enough trouble just finding white space on my calendar to go to lunch with someone, let alone clear out several evenings and weekends for rehearsals.

Total insanity. If there’s one thing I don’t need, it’s something else to do. It should be a no-brainer: absolutely, positively, no way, no how. (Which is also a line from the movie!) However, while the logical half of my brain was jettisoning this lunacy, the emotional half piped up: “But wait! What are you doing in the evenings anyway? Staring at the MSNBC screamers and getting wrapped around the axle night after night… about things over which you have zero control? Talk about insanity. And think back… what was your experience actually like in the last play?”

Well, I stopped and listened to my emotional half, thought back to my small role in “Calendar Girls,” remembered the rehearsals and performances, and realized… overall, it was really relaxing. Why? Simple: I wasn’t in charge of anything. My only requirement was to show up, follow the director’s directions and just do my best.

Can you hear the exhale of relief from there? Can you even relate to what that means to me… to be in charge of nothing? Best of all, while I’m sitting there at rehearsals, being all not-in-chargey, no one can come bug me about anything or ask me to do anything or gripe about whatever’s bugging them in the Express. It’s like hiding in plain sight. I can sit and relax and wait for my turn to be on stage, kill a few levels of Candy Crush, quietly practice my lines, chit-chat with some interesting people who have no idea who I am, and just be a little nobody waiting until she’s called upon.

I can’t even articulate the joy!

Remembering that experience was the tipping point. Being in a play was surprisingly calming. I could use some calming — for about the next three and a half years, to be exact. I plan to attend lots more auditions. It’ll be way cheaper than a lifetime supply of Xanax.

So, acting — was I any good at it? Well, I’m not sure. I don’t have enough experience to answer that question. That said, I must have a little acting ability in there somewhere, because I was cast as a middle-aged, straight-laced uptight old Church Lady type in “Calendar Girls,” and anyone who knows me can confirm that I was definitely cast against type. Apparently I did such a good job fooling people about my true nature, I again got the role of a boring, dumpy old gal. I believe I will interpret this as a merit badge!

Possibly the weirdest thing that happened as a result of my little stint in “Calendar Girls” happened recently while my husband and I were visiting Castello de Amarosa in the Napa Valley (go there — it’s amazing). Someone in our tour group came up to me and said, “I know you — you’re an actress with the Winters Theatre Company.”


“Oh no,” I replied. “I’m not an actress. I do review plays, however. I’m a writer, yes, but not an actress. Maybe you recognize me from the newspaper?”

“No,” he insisted, “You were in ‘Calendar Girls’! So was I!”

I did a double-take, blinked, and well, didn’t I feel like a boob. Yes, he was in the play with me! Now I remember! But what a mind-blower: In his mind, I was an actress! How wild is that! I believe that may be a second merit badge!

At any rate, don’t expect to see me around Facebook much for the next few weeks. I’ll be in rehearsals. Because that’s what actresses do.


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