MY SECOND DISASTROUS vocal audition — magnitudes of order more disastrous than my high school show choir audition — was for a student-organized musical at Rice. Sid Rich College was staging Man of La Mancha and Karen and I went to the tryouts together one evening after dinner.By then I’d taught myself to read and play simple passages of music with both hands by holing up in the practice rooms in the music school on weekends. But it’s one thing to read symbols and produce sounds by pressing buttons. It’s another thing entirely to sing “Don’t Rain on My Parade” accompanied by a live pianist when you’ve only ever practiced the song by singing along with Barbra Streisand. I realized this as I handed the sheet music to the pianist and took my place in the center of a clearing of tables in the college cafetorium. As much as I knew how horrible it would be, there was no turning back.
I’m forever grateful to the student director who let me continue longer than he should have. A WTF expression on his face, he asked if he could take a look at the sheet music before he dismissed me. I suspect he wanted to make sure I hadn’t been singing from a multi-part arrangement, such was the atrociousness of my performance. Who did I think I was trying to sing that song? Barbra Streisand?