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Wednesday, May 10, 2006


“Sharon, I have an audition for you.”
My agent, Penny, talked at lightning speed, and I knew from past experience that she would not slow down or repeat the information. I looked around frantically and grabbed the nearest writing supplies: a purple crayon and a Cinderella coloring book.
Calls from Penny were few and far between after I got pregnant. Which didn’t surprise me then, but now, a year after I’d had Charlotte, I was still having trouble getting auditions. There are thousands of actors in New York City, and getting auditions is always tough—but I’d heard through the grapevine that most producers didn’t believe I’d accept work, assuming that I’d prefer to stay home with the baby. I’d planned on being a working mom, and I hate it when people make assumptions, so I made a point of pride to go to every audition I was offered, no matter what it was.
“What’s it for?” I asked, crayon poised.
“The Broadway production of Cats. Jennyanydots, the Gumbie Cat.”
“Mmm-hmm.” I wrote Cats Broadway Jennysomething next to Cinderella’s pumpkin. I knew very little about Cats except that it was a dance show that had been running on Broadway forever. As primarily a singing actor, I never thought I’d get an audition for it, so I’d never paid it any mind. But any Broadway audition is a good thing, and I was desperate for a steady job.
“Your audition is on Tuesday, May 31, at 10 a.m. at the Winter Garden Theater. Bring two contrasting songs, and be prepared to dance.”
“Dance?” I stopped writing. “I have to dance?” I was thrilled at the idea of auditioning at the famous Winter Garden Theater, but that one terrible little word caused my heart to race.
“It’s Cats.” Penny sighed her I hate stupid actors sigh. “That’s what the cats do. They dance. Now, there will be a jazz combination followed by a tap combination, and then they will make a cut. Those asked to stay will sing and then dance again. They said to be prepared to—”
“I have to dance two combinations, and then there’s a cut?”
“Yes.” Sigh again. “That’s what they said.”
I’d been to dance auditions before, but only after I’d had the chance to win them over with my acting and singing first. Called “movement” calls, these post-singing dance auditions are filled with a bunch of nervous singers in dance clothes unworn since theater school. Movement calls are pretty easy, since the choreographer is just checking to make sure that we won’t fall down. Usually the “dancing” is simple, limited to a “step, touch” while we snap our fingers.
But this wasn’t a movement call. This was Cats—real live Broadway dancing—and I’d have to dance first. I’d have to buy real dance clothes, crawl around on the stage, and remember complicated dance combinations that I didn’t have the skills to execute.
“I can’t do this.” The real dancers would trample me. I pictured myself in a lumpy, sweaty mess on the stage. “You know I don’t turn down auditions, especially for Broadway, but I’ll make a total ass out of myself. Tell them thanks, but no thanks.”
“You should go.” Penny was adamant.
“They’ll never hire me. They’re looking for a dancer.”
“It’s a job on Broadway,” Penny said. “You could be home with Charlotte.”
I knew Penny was frustrated with me, but that couldn’t be helped. “I’m not what they’re looking for. This would be a waste of time.”
I hung up, feeling depressed. It had been so hard getting auditions lately, and it killed me to have to turn something down—especially a job on Broadway. The phone rang again. It was Penny, talking faster than ever in her I have important information speed. “Okay, look. I called and told them you said no, and they said they want you to come in anyway. Apparently dance skills aren’t that important. They are looking for personality.”
“Penny, you know why I can’t do this audition.” It was my turn to sigh. “I’m too fat to be a cat!”
“What are you talking about?” Penny sounded astounded. “You look great! You’ve lost all your baby weight.”
True, but this was different. This was Cats. The cast members had a median weight of about twenty-seven pounds and they’d been in dance class since the age of two. These cats wore slinky, figure-hugging spandex from head to toe. Even at my prebaby thinnest, I didn’t have a gorgeous dancer body worthy of display in spandex. “Cats is different.”
“Okay,” said Penny in her I’m staying calm with this neurotic actor voice. “You have some weird hang-ups about this. I’m going to call back and tell them you’re coming. You spend the weekend clearing your head. If you really don’t think you can do it, I’ll call and cancel on Monday.” I heard the phone ring in her office.
“I’ve got to get that. Talk to you Monday.” And she hung up.
I pushed the off button and resisted the urge to throw my phone out the window. I looked at Charlotte, who was trying to force a square toy from her shape sorter into a round hole. She banged it over and over again, and then grunted in frustration. “Hey kiddo, try this.” I flipped the toy and showed her the match, the square hole. Charlotte grabbed the toy and went back to her square peg–round hole combination, banging it over and over again, trying to make it fit. I gave her a big kiss and said, “Oh, baby. I know just how you feel.”

Sophomore Year

Sophomore Year
My weight was going up and up...

Little Miss Sunshine

Little Miss Sunshine
I guess I'm about 3 or so? Nice tan!