Today one of my students was singing show tunes to himself as he packed up at the end of class. As I placed the musical, and we got talking, I told him this story. It occurred to me that I haven’t shared this one with you all.
When I was about 8, my parents took me to the Banff School of Fine Art’s production of Fiddler on the Roof. I remember the excitement of driving from Calgary to Banff, I remember falling asleep in the car on the drive home, and I remember loving the music. We bought the album, and I sang those tunes constantly. I particularly loved “Far From the Home I Love” which is sung by daughter Hodel as she goes to Siberia to join Perchik.
When I was in grade seven, our school mounted a production of Fiddler on the Roof. Auditions were announced. I wanted to be Hodel. I went down to the drama room, heart pounding, and discovered that grade 9, Richie Eichler was going to play Tevye. My heart stopped.
My little trio of friends called him the Maharaja, because he was always surrounded by a harem of girls. He was funny, kind of goofy looking, and we couldn’t quite figure out what the attraction was, but we were in awe of it, nonetheless. At least, I was. I was petrified of auditioning in front of Richie Eichler. He didn’t know me at all, of course. There was absolutely no reason for my panic, but I was paralyzed. I couldn’t do the audition.
A few months later, I sat in the audience and watched the girl playing Hodel butcher my song. She couldn’t sing at all, and so she recited it like a poem. It was a knife turning in my gut. I could sing. I could have brought the audience to tears with that song. I sing it with tears pouring down my face even today. It’s the kind of song that the audience is crushed by. I felt guilty. I was angry with myself for not having the courage to go through the audition, because I would have gotten the part, and I would have been good. It was a painful lesson. I decided the next opportunity, to act in Fiddler on the Roof, I would audition for Hodel.
You may be able to guess what happened. I never found another production of it. Now I could perhaps play Golde, but I will never be able to play young Hodel. I had one chance, and I lost it.
I have won many other auditions over the years, and had the opportunity to sing other roles, but the role that sparked my star-struck dreams was never to be mine.
Damn Richie Eichler! Damn my pointless fears!
Never let your imagined worries stop you from taking hold of your dreams. You may not get a second chance.
PS. As a matter of trivia for Grace Awakening fans- The real Lloyd played trumpet in the orchestra for this production. I remembered him quite distinctly playing in the band for Fiddler, when we met officially for the first time a couple years later as teen volunteers at Kelowna General Hospital.