November 2019 Blogathon: Alexandra Utpadel


It is Brelby tradition to dedicate the month of November to giving a platform for our artists to share their stories. This month our annual Blogathon theme returns to its roots with a visit back to the topic of “My Brelby Story.” We’ve grown a great deal over the past few years, and many of our original bloggers have moved on to new careers, new lives, new challenges, and new cities. Enjoy this year’s series with 30 Days of Blogs.

Terror.
Pure unadulterated terror.
I’ve practiced my songs twenty thousand times, I’ve gone over my monologue at least twice that amount, and yet every audition starts the same. My heart tries to beat itself out of my chest, I think I’m gonna swallow my tongue, and I’m about ten seconds from running straight out the door. But it’s too late, because the stage manager is calling my name.
It’s time.
No turning back.
I take a deep breath, and I walk through the door.
Most casting tables feature a director with their head buried in their paperwork. They smile at you briefly, but they’ve got a hundred things on their mind. Maybe it’s just my anxiety talking, but it always feels like they’re thinking, “Just get it over with, please, because there’s a line of people I still have to see and we’re already ten minutes behind.”
I walk in the door, and my smile is forced, nervous, rushed.
Shelby Maticic smiles at me, and it is warm. She doesn’t know me, not yet, but her smile seems to say otherwise. It says, “Hi. You’re welcome here.”
We make small talk as I hand over my resumé, and I swear, she actually seems to be reading it. I can’t remember the last time someone took the time to do that in an audition. I act, I sing. I don’t notice then, but looking back I see the relaxation in the shoulders, the tension gone from the corners of my mouth. I leave, and instead of feeling like I’m going to explode from how terribly that went… I feel good.
I get a callback.
I try not to walk in overprepared, and I fail miserably. I’m pretty sure I scare off several potential friends that day. There are so many girls here, and only so many girls in the show. It’s time to read, it’s time to sing. My shaky hands press against my equally shaky legs, and I search for my old friend, terror. I take a deep breath. I walk through the door. Shelby Maticic smiles. “Hi. You’re welcome here.”
I go home, and instead of the voices of hundreds of more talented girls ringing in my ears, I hear my own voice doing its very best.
I feel good.
I get an e-mail.
They would like to offer me the part of Jo March in Little Women: the musical.
The rest, as they say, is history. Or really, a series of sentence fragments, a series of snapshots. My first onstage kisses. My first serious stage combat experience. My first time playing a male role. My first time playing an ingenue. My first time playing my sexuality onstage. My first time raging in a Southern accent about the apocalypse. My first time holding a dog who’s actually a reindeer. My first hair and makeup design for adults who are children but are actually adults. My first time teaching a German dialect to a Sugar Plum Fairy.
This is my Brelby story.
It starts with terror, and it ends with a list of things I never dreamed I’d be trusted to do.
It’s the middle part that counts the most, though.
A smile.
“Hi. You’re welcome here.”

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