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Friday, April 24, 2015

"U" is for the "Unknown"

Hey U, welcome back to the A-Z Challenge!

My theme revolves around the soon-to-be published memoir, REVIVAL, which I wrote for former professional opera singer, Donald Braswell.

Yesterday, Donald was invited to perform for the live audience/television taping at the America's Got Talent auditions. Two days later, Donald arrives early for his audition -- and the chance to sing on a professional stage for the first time in thirteen years...

"U" is for the "Unknown"


…Taking a deep breath, I pull open a random door along the hotel corridor, step inside the vast conference room and find myself in the midst of a chaotic circus. There’s nothing like showbiz: Get there early because you’re gonna have to wait a while.

I grab a chair and join a group of about twenty entertainers standing and sitting in a loose circle. Introductions are made and general questions answered. Rumors run amok, including tales of an uncooperative horse and an angry, upset audience awaiting any of us who get that far. I remove my suit jacket, get comfortable inasmuch as you can in a conference-room-style chair, and enjoy the banter. Happy and blessed to be a part of this eclectic group of singers, jugglers and magicians, I’m fine waiting a few extra hours.

Several of my fellow competitors trade off various dance moves in the center of an impromptu circle. Only in America, land of the free, home of the reality show, I think, with a wry smile as I catch parts of the conversation between an eighty-one-year-old tap dancing grandma and an Ozzy Osbourne impersonator.

By mid-afternoon, there are so many chairs strewn and abandoned that the cavernous room looks like a ballroom on the Titanic—after the iceberg—and we’re the band. The main door opens and a staffer bolsters our moods. It’s our turn, we’re moving across the road to the Palace Theater.

Several hands slap, and someone from a remaining group throws out an encouraging break a leg as we enter via a non-descript backstage door. Narrow corridors, dark and crowded, elicit the occasional careful where you walk and mind your step. I step over or around cables thicker than a mouse-filled python and pass dozens of “AGT”-stamped road boxes full of sound and other electrical equipment.

Feeding off the energy of the hustle and bustle, I smile at the familiar smells of musty canvas and dusty, forgotten props and a childhood spent in the hidden recesses of several San Antonio theaters. In the days when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin still gazed at the face of the moon, my parents would rehearse their latest show, and left to my own devices, I’d explore the nooks and crannies of the local theaters that doubled as babysitter and playground.

Old memories are displaced by new fears when a loud hum became recognizable as a boisterous crowd, and for the first time, some serious self-doubts organize and hold a mental protest.

I’m a Cadillac salesman...

...in my mid-forties.

This is a youngster’s gig…

Am I insane?


Tomorrow: "V" is for "Vegas Dreams"



Elephant's Child said...

Uncooperative horse? Or is that house?
Still fascinated. Still applauding Donald - and you.

Jo said...

This is an exciting story even though we know the ending.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I wonder what the horse didn't do?
Exploring theaters as a kid sounds like it was a lot of fun.

Melissa said...

I can't wait! :D

Tamara Narayan said...

It's cool to get a glimpse of what it's like backstage at one of these types of shows.

Lisa said...

I love the behind-the-scenes glimpse! Lisa, co-host A To Z Challenge and @ http://www.lisabuiecollard.com

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Mark - it's great ... seeing what happens along the way - wonderful to be able to read his story this way .. cheers Hilary

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