The Business That is Show

I took Tallulah to her first audition yesterday evening.

Quite a few of Tilly’s friends are in a local amateur dramatics group who are putting on a big musical based show in the autumn.  It will feature medleys of sixty three songs from thirty two musicals, and they are auditioning for three junior members of the cast.

Tilly’s friends thought Tallulah would be perfect for the role and encouraged her to audition.

So, last night I dutifully took her to the physiotherapy department of the Leicester Royal Infirmary where, naturally, the auditions were to take place.

I have learned many things from this process.

The first is that I still bloody hate musicals. If I have to hear Supercalifragilistic one more time I will honestly commit murder. Blood will run down the streets, which given that events seem to take place in a hospital, will probably be appropriate. I cannot imagine anything worse than sixty three songs from thirty two musicals in one gigantic melange of jazz hands and fish net tights. Honestly. I could weep.

The second is that I am absolutely not and never will be, a show business mother.  I wanted to leave as soon as we arrived.  I spent the entire time I was waiting for the audition process to unfold alternating between being bored out of my skull or irritated to death. I was not, as the Director suggested, nervous for Tallulah. It never occurred to me to be nervous for her. She’s wonderful. I don’t need a man with a clip board to tell me that. I don’t think she will be more wonderful if she gets the part. I also think that if she doesn’t get the part she will learn as much as if she does, so we’re quids in frankly.

Thank God I had a book with me, and I can only bitterly bemoan the lack of biscuits to succour the wounded.

I do not care if Jacinta has grade twelve oboe with added Japanese waltzing honours. I am not interested in where you can get cut price pan stick or how many extra curricular baton twirling lessons you can fit into one twenty four hour period. I was amazed to find that one woman even had her dog. HER DOG, in a show and had to wait four hours every single night for the DOG (the BLOODY DOG) to come off stage before she could go home, and presumably plunge face first into a vat of gin.

I also learned that I definitely do not have any leanings towards stardom myself. At one point the director of the show decided to do vocal warm ups with the parents still in the room, so that the kids would be relaxed into the audition process. We would then be sent away to a sound proof booth (I wish) for the remainder of the audition, so that our presence didn’t make the kids nervous.

The children were singing Let’s Go Fly a Kite from Mary Poppins.  The director, after a few run throughs, decided to swell the numbers. He suggested that the parents also sing.  There was tittering from the parents.

Except from me.  The parent who delivered the evil death stare.

We launched into song. Well, they did.  Half way through the ninety third chorus the director caught my eye and raised an eyebrow.  I took his eyebrow and raised him.

I won.

So here’s the thing.

We don’t know if Tallulah got the part yet.

Part of me hopes she does. I love her. I think she is incredibly talented (despite her penchant for Taylor Swift and musical theatre, both of which are inexplicable and draining), and I want her to do well in whatever path she chooses in life, and if this is the path she has chosen, so be it.

Part of me desperately hopes she doesn’t.

I know this is very wrong of me.  It is not the attitude to have etc.

But honestly?

How do people do this? I don’t just mean parents of children who want to be actors, or singers or cellists or who embrace the dramatic arts. It must be like this for children who want to be olympic swimmers or acrobats or take up long distance cycling.

You see, all these things take an enormous amount of commitment and dedication. It’s all that Kids from Fame crap about: ‘Fame Costs. And RIGHT HERE’s Where You Start Paying. IN SWEAT.’

This is how it is.  If you want to be Taylor Swift, or Darcey Bussell or Mo Farah, you can’t trot along once a week for an hour and fling yourself about and then go home for chips.  You’ve got to work at it. Really, really work at it, and for a long time. Years in fact.  Years that should ideally start when you’re knee high to Julie Andrews and go from there.

This is all very well. I totally get it. I am a huge believer in hard work.


It also means hard work for parents.  It means hours of driving, hours of waiting, hours of paying, hours of listening/watching/supporting etc.  How do people do this?

I am so conflicted about this. Not only because I am idle and selfish and do not want to spend the next six months of my life sitting on a hard plastic chair in the physic department of the Royal Infirmary wondering if I can hang myself from the parallel bars, although that is a factor.

What do you do if you have other children? Other children who need your time and attention as much as this one? Other children who have hopes and dreams and aspirations, even if those aspirations are only to see you at dinner time once in a while, or not to have to sit on a sofa infested with sequins.  How do you balance the needs and desires of the one against the many when they are all deserving?

It’s not that the other two resent the time we already spend with Tallulah on music lessons and singing lessons etc. They love her. They will be over the moon if she gets this part, and the first in the front row with the pom poms and the glitter canons, but if she gets this role there will be two rehearsals a week, on top of the lessons she already has, and as the date of the show gets nearer, this number will undoubtedly rise. There is only one of me, and three of them, and Jason who works long and erratic hours so can only be relied upon some of the time. What about all the other things in life that everyone else wants to do, when is there time for those things?

Maybe I am being overly worried. I suspect I am.

But, if she doesn’t get this audition, there will be others now, and this is the thin end of the wedge, and these are things we have to think about, and it’s tricky. I have no answers. I just pray to a benevolent God who, as my grandmother used to say; ‘Never gives you more than you can bear.’ I also pray for my cousin to hurry up with that time machine.  He made the prototype in 1991. Surely it must be ready by now.

11 responses to “The Business That is Show

  1. You find buddies for the lift runs for the kids, you figure out when you need to stay and when you don’t, you get mobile and shop online and do as much as you can online whilst waiting, you catch up on reading, you make friends, you put the rest of your own life on hold….

    • Yeah. Thought so. I already do the mobile and shop online thing, because, you know, three kids and all their existing commitments is pretty hefty in terms of time being eaten up anyway. I had rather hoped there might be some kind of magic wand idea I hadn’t already thought of. Sadly not. Ah well, when she’s raking in millions and I’m living off her hard earned loot I will look back on this and be grateful! Or something! x

  2. Love this. Hope T does get the part! But also hope they put on some kind of bus or at least free bar for parents!!
    This is the very reason why I haven’t mentioned football classes to my boys.. 2 days a week and every Saturday in a different place… BUT my football days are numbered… I know….. shall let you know when i too am wearing a taxi sign on my head ! xx

    • Hey! She got the part. We got a message last night (as I was in the middle of taking her to see a fecking musical, no less! My cup runneth over).

      Good luck with the footballing! At least the rehearsals will be indoors and I will make sure I take snacks next time, and possibly Radio Four podcasts! xx

  3. Just withdraw your kids from this activity. Honestly, if it impacts on your life so much, withdraw them, and stick ’em in front of the telly on a Saturday/ Tuesday/Monday (delete as applicable). Then they won’t get disillusioned, you won’t get fleeced and we won’t have to read this blog.

    • Dear Yoni,

      Good morning to you, too. My, you are a ray of sunshine aren’t you? Congratulations on being the first poster in over five years to leave an unpleasant comment on the blog.

      I get so few negative comments (which might surprise you) that I had forgotten how much I enjoy replying to them.

      I can’t decide whether you’re more proud of having taken some of your precious free time to sit down and read the entire 1300 words I wrote, even though they clearly offended you to the core, or whether you’re prouder of having taken the time to have written such a special comment.

      You must feel good this morning. As you can see from my blog post, it takes some commitment to do something you don’t want or like to do.

      My excuse is that I have three children who I love very much and because I am their parent I spend much of my time doing things I don’t want to do. It’s part of the parenting job description.

      What’s yours?

      “Well, I really like to read things by people I don’t know that I find offensive, even though I don’t have to, and there’s a world of written material out there that probably agrees with exactly what I’m thinking, but you know, I just can’t quite be bothered to a) find it, or b) stop reading things that upset me because it gives me such a deep down thrill to be wilfully rude to people who are just mostly mucking about.”

      Goodness. That’s some hobby. Perhaps you’d find stamp collecting less stressful?

      Or maybe, if you are a parent, and you don’t mention it, you really enjoy wiping bottoms or chiselling snot encrusted noses, or sitting on cold playing fields, or listening to violin practice. Good for you. I am sure your saintliness is duly noted.

      Me, I can’t feel that way about those things. Know what though, Yoni? I do them anyway, because they’re my kids and I’d cut my still beating heart out of my chest if I thought I could make them happy. Then I come on here and write about it, so that I can go out there and do it all again without murdering people.

      Frankly you seem somewhat humourless. Perhaps your dog is currently in a musical, and you’re just not getting enough sleep between ferrying it to shows?

      I don’t know. Whatever it is, perhaps you might engage your intelligence by not wasting your time in unnecessary acts of unpleasantness to random strangers next time you’ve got a spare five minutes. I don’t know. Eat a biscuit. Listen to some soothing music. Whatever floats your boat.

      Please feel free not to return. Your absence will leave a gaping void in my heart, but I’m sure over time, and with the correct application of cake, it will diminish enough for me to carry on with my life as if you weren’t even there.

      Which, thankfully for me, you aren’t.

  4. If Tallulah is successful is there any chance you could carpool rehearsals with one (or more!) of the other mums? If you only have to do one per week (or less) , it would be easier to build into your overcrowded taxi/chaperone schedule.


  5. Sharon

    It’s a good idea. She did get a part. They left a message yesterday while I was engaged in taking her to see a musical! I need to find out at the rehearsal proper exactly what the drill is, and then perhaps I can put something in place. xxx

  6. Hey, very funny post! Enjoyed reading this. I remember playing the violin as a kid and before I knew it I was going to three or four orchestra rehearsals a week, one lesson, and several school orchestras, bands, Irish bloody music groups, you name it, I went along!!

    I think that kids can definitely end up doing way to much and I used to so look forward to days where I had nothing musical on and could just do ‘normal’ stuff that teenagers do..

    The thing is, it was me who decided to take all the commitments on and my poor parents had to pay and transport me to various rehearsals but kids are just kid without the wisdom to say, ok, I’m doing too much now.
    Very difficult to get the balance between encouraging a hobby (or possible future career?) and making sure they’ve allowed themselves enough time to relax.

  7. Just the idea of having to sit through sixty odd songs from musicals has me squirming, I really wish you the strength to carry it through. xx

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