The Hit Single

The other day when I rudely posted a link to one of my old blog posts in a comment on Art’s blog, Pouring My Art Out, I started chatting with my blogging buddy Trend, of about that piece.  I told him that in an exercise for my memoir writing class, I had to write the same story from two different points of view.  Trend and I figured it would be fun for me to post both pieces.

So tonight, I am re-posting the story of how all my youthful dreams came crashing down on me in a broom closet. Tomorrow night, I will tell the same story, from someone else’s side.

This exercise was really helpful in the class, by the way.  It helped me look at the same story I’d told for years, but with new eyes. And it was a lot of fun to imagine the other side.  Without further ado, here it is:

Door Number Two!

The thing about dreams is that the crushing, the squelching, the termination of them is so much better in retrospect than when it actually happens.

At 17, I just knew I was going to be an actress.  A stage actress (because, don’t cha know, film work is not true acting. ) And I made that choice even before I realized that the camera brings out the psycho in me.

Now, I was very serious about this dream.  Of course I took my high school’s acting classes.  And, all snark aside, they were really good.  The Players were renown throughout the area for the professional quality of its high school actors.  And the accolades were well deserved.

Me?  Was I the star?  Was I the ingénue lead in all the productions during my high school years?  Was there a reason for my hubris?  Did my classmates look at me, remember my face and say to each other “someday we will remember when the very highly talented Miss Elyse went sledding outside our Algebra class (with that other fab actress, Ray) when she was supposed to be writing her math problems on the blackboard – because now,” sigh, “she’s a STAR.”   Oops, no, I mean they’d think “because now she is a highly successful stage ACTress.”

Uh, no they didn’t.  I was invariably an extra in those acclaimed productions.  At best I got a line or two. But I had heart.  And in the theatRE, that’s all you need, right?

There are no small parts, only small actors.”

Well, I was NOT a small actor.  I just got small parts.  And I was short and thin.  So I was small.  Shit.

But I DID get an audition. Yup!  I had an audition in April of 1974, the spring of my senior year, for the Central School of Speech and Drama, an acting school in London.

Google Image because I don't have any pictures of my own.

Google Image because I don’t have any pictures of my own.

Now, I lived ONE hour outside of New York, so training in NYC might have been a wee bit easier to manage.  But hey, this was a dream, remember?  And I wanted London:  The Globe, The West End, Masterpiece TheatRE (even if it was done on film, it didn’t seem like it). I was ready to take the first step in my path.

My audition was held in a building at Yale University, which in itself was pretty intimidating.

I performed my comedy bit first, a monologue from a comedy so obscure that I have blotted it totally from my brain. I sang “Adelaide’s Lament” under the guidance of my friend Sue, who actually played Adelaide in our school’s production of Guys and Dolls.

I delivered my Juliet speech – hey, what do you want, Lady Macbeth?  I was 17!!!  I chose one that is rarely performed, the one where Juliet is about to take the sleeping potion and is seeing her cousin Tybalt’s ghost:

O, look! methinks I see my cousin’s ghost

Seeking out Romeo,

That did spit his body Upon a rapier’s point:

Stay, Tybalt, stay! (I loved that line)

Romeo, I come! this do I drink to thee.

I drank the potion and collapsed on the floor in the best Juliet evah.

I was a much better Juliet than Marsha Brady. Much.  Of course, there are no Google Images of me.

I was a much better Juliet than Marsha Brady. Much. Of course, there are no Google Images of me.

I thanked the three faculty judges, repeated my name, made sure they had my completed application and my picture (although how could they forget me?)  I turned and walked to the door to leave.

Only there were two doors.

I opened the one on the right, walked through it and closed the door behind me.

It was a broom closet.

What do I do now, I wondered.

There was no script.  No stage directions.  No help of any kind.  I considered staying in the closet, but knew that eventually I had to exit stage left.

After a minute that lasted forever, I re-opened the closet door and slunk out, saying a line I haven’t heard in too many successful plays:

“That’s the broom closet.”

I opened the other door and left the room, closing my dream back in the room with the judges.

I know that if I’d just gone out singing and dancing, well, this chapter would be the opening scene of my life story. Maybe it still is.  Cause it hasn’t been at all bad.



Filed under Acting, Awards, Bat-shit crazy, Bloggin' Buddies, Childhood Traumas, Criminal Activity, Dreams, Humiliation, Memoir writing, Most Embarassing Moments Evah!, Oh shit, Two versions of the same story, Why the hell do I tell you these stories?

33 responses to “The Hit Single

  1. Oh, the mortification! I know you had to be tempted just to stay in there until everyone left for the day (I would have been!)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It may be selfish of me, but I am glad you didn’t go off and do something else. If you had you wouldn’t be here and I wouldn’t have found you, my life would be less.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: The Flip Side | FiftyFourandAHalf

  4. Shudda, wudda, cudda. Who knows what would have been, if only… I can’t imagine what that must have felt like to your 17-year-old self, but, 25 years later it became a great story so it was totally worth it.

    I love the idea of looking at a situation from different points of view (shouldn’t we all do that more?) and look forward to your next version.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It does make a great story — and actually my husband remembered it as he was leaving an interview and saw two doors — he asked (and got the offer). I didn’t and didn’t! But what are you gonna do except laugh!

      The next version is up. But they didn’t have as much of a stake in it!


  5. I am so glad I followed along with all of that…

    Liked by 1 person

  6. OMG, you had your own George Bush moment there! Remember the press conference he had when he attempted to leave from a door that was locked? Oops! But I’m sure you showed WAY more grace. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I had forgotten that! But no, I didn’t show much grace. I simply slunk out of the room, painfully aware of how stupid (and brokenhearted) I looked.


  7. Certainly auspicious … You could have come out with the mop and bucket, then started cleaning. Meanwhile, nothing against Duncan, but can you name your next dog Tybalt?


    • Tybalt would be a GREAT name for a dog. Duncan is somewhat Shakespearean in origin. And I did name a cat Feste many years ago (the fool in Twelfth Night). So I will keep Tybalt in mind. Oh I love it… Of course I will have to get it past the censors!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. That is so embarrassing. I found myself in a similar situation when wanting desperately to escape an awkward moment.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It was horrible, Susie. I didn’t let the folks who went with me to support me know. I didn’t let my parents know. Or my acting teacher. I didn’t tell anybody the story for years. Worse, though, it completely undermined my confidence. Oh well!

      You will have to tell (or link to) your story!


  9. Oh, Elyse, that’s priceless. It probably wasn’t for you at the time, but it sure gave me a smile. I have no doubt the brooms would’ve cast you as the lead if they could have!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Even funnier on the second read… wish there were a Google image of you when you popped back out. Very much looking forward to the other version… definitely curious.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Paul

    Well, at least you can get cane – that’s a start. And maybe a tophat. But that was a pretty tall frog – I don’t know if you can play that or not. Bwahahaha! Love, love, love the closet story. Toooooo funny.

    Am eagerly awaiting take 2. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Dana

    Was there a spaghetti mop in the closet? Cause then you could have put it on your head like a wig and come out as a character! It would’ve looked like you did I on purpose! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  13. You shudda come out like the Warner Frog, singing “Hello my Honey” & doing a little dance…

    Liked by 1 person

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