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Peter Pan Audition: Who Made the Cut and What Upset One Singer…

My son J just audition for a new musical called “Fly.” It’s a darker version of “Peter Pan,” apparently. I guess with kids reading books like “The Hunger Games,” dark is in. (J, my 9-year-old, just read it. He tried to get me to but I only made it through Chapter 1. Something about kids hunting each other turned me off.)

Peter Pan

I contemplated whether we should go to the open call and spend Saturday morning in a room full of ambitious kids who can sing like birds—or like Adele or Bruno Mars in this case. The casting directors were looking for kids with “excellent pop voices.” J does a pretty awesome rendition of “Grenade” and we had to be in New York for his dance classes at Alvin Ailey anyway, so off we went…a little late (ok, friends, stop smiling knowingly). My plan had been to catch the 8:07 so we could get to Telsey + Company on West 43rd by 9:45 to sign in early (casting started at 10). But at midnight the 8:32 started sounding a lot better. So we got to the casting at 10 and slapped the white sticky label on J’s shirt that read: #127.

The waiting room soon was packed with 200 eager kids and their parents. Ugh, would we even make it to Alvin Ailey by 1:30? BUT then the audition began and a chirpy brunette with a megaphone voice started calling 10 kids at a time to line up outside each of 3 rooms. Efficient wranglers stood at each door, sending in the young aspiring stars and starlets (way more of the latter) to sing 16 bars of a pop song, a cappella. Before 11 AM, they reached #100 and J started warming up outside the bathroom, where a few mini Katy Perrys and Justin Biebers were doing the same. The kid doesn’t really get nervous so I have to for him. “Don’t you have to go to the bathroom?” I ask him. “No, mom.” “You really should pee. You might get nervous right before and have to go.” “No, mom, I’m fine.” I go to the bathroom instead.

Peter Pan and Wendy

J chats with a teenage Wendy wannabe in line in front of him. 121 goes. Then 122, 123, 124. I need to pee again. I hold it until 127 comes out, and as the woman at the door staples a ticket to his headshot, he asks, “Does everyone get one of those?” NO, they don’t! J has been asked to stay and sing again! We are ushered into a room where about 20 beaming hopefuls are waiting for their next round. Most of these kids seem like veterans. They are talking about their recent auditions, they are flipping through their “books” (containing sheet music for their repetoire of songs). A boy next to us, about 11, sitting alone, starts chatting with two girls and their moms. “I’m from Massachusetts,” he says. “I got a ride down with a friend. She’s out there.” He pointed to the door, now closed to the waiting room where the rejects are filtering out of the casting agency. “I feel really bad that she didn’t get called back, and they gave me a ride here.” He really looks like his heart might break for his friend. The moms reassure him. That’s showbiz. (And a higher percentage of boys were asked to stay, considering all those Lost Boy parts.)

“He’s adorable,” says a mom, leaning over to me and gesturing toward J, who has his head buried in some dark book. Again, like at the “Matilda” audition, no “Dance Moms” in sight.

Yeah, adorable is nice (and not the side a mom sees most of the time!). But mostly I’m proud he made the cut. I manage his expectations by letting him know it’s a long shot to get beyond this audition (poor kid, saddled with a realist for a mom).

Now it’s back to Ballet Etudes “Nutcracker” rehearsals (tickets are on sale now at the Westport Country Playhouse). He’s Fritz this year. He won’t get to fly (although some of the dancers seem to!) but he does get to sword fight. It’s almost as good as Peter Pan.

Chinese Dancer

Ballet Etudes “The Nutcracker” at Westport Playhouse,  Photo by Beth Shepherd Peters

Aspiring models, stay tuned for some tips coming from my Model Advisory Board on Thursday.

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