I just had a random flashback to my elementary days, when I was eight years old and was playing Nancy in the school play Oliver. As Oliver was on stage offering roses for sale, and singing his solo part so sweetly and serenely, I couldn't help but think 'I was supposed to be Oliver'. After all that's what my teacher had promised me when I didn't get to play the part of Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz.
I was initially the understudy for Dorothy, and when the lead part fell ill, in stepped I to bask in the glory of singing sweet tunes with a dog called Toto, a tin man a scarecrow and a lion. dancing along a cardboard painted yellow brick road off to a city of green.
When the lead part suddenly got better about one week before the show, my hopes were blown when her mum, auntie and cousin came in to the school to not plead their case of why she should be given her part back, but to demand it back or else. Teacher did always strike me as the timid type, and I gathered he didn't want to cause any trouble or adopt a black eye, so I promptly found myself on props painting the Emerald city into the backdrop with his promise that I would be the lead in the next play.
So as the young hopefuls of the new year sat on the hard plastic seats, waiting to hear who had got which part in the upcoming play Oliver, I felt smug as I remembered teachers promise knowing that I would be clicking my heels, pinching pockets and jovially dancing along side whoever Fagan was meant to be.
Picture this - the pin on the decks has been lifted and dropped onto the vinyl and a sweet sounding melody is being played. I smooth out my skirt, uncross my ankles and get ready to stand to accept the part as Oliver, only to hear another name being called. The pin slides off the vinyl as the sound of scratching of the said sweet and melodic sounds leaves a barren emptiness sounding in the air.
I was trying to hold back the tears. Off course, I could take this like an eight year old should. I got a nudge from my friend who was sitting next to me, 'Go on, cry, you know you want to'. The actress in me came alive, and I immediately squeezed my eyes tightly together to try and conjure up some tears to show my disappointment. 'Don't be silly', Teacher intervened, 'she's a big girl, there's nothing to cry about'. I had been staring in one place without blinking for about a minute or so in the hope of making the crocodile tears appear, and at my teachers words, began to frantically search for some tissues in my school uniform to wipe away the trickle threatening to roll down my cheeks. I didn't want teacher thinking I was a big baby, nor did I want any future parts jeopardised because I was unable to take demotion.
Oliver played his part wonderfully as I think back on it. He was a boy after all, and the role as the waif like orphan begging for food and constantly dirty with filthy hair and clothes that didn't fit right suited the scene better than it would have had it been me playing the part. I rather enjoyed playing the larger than life Nancy with the big fancy skirts that I had the joy of swishing around as I took to the role more than I had expected.
I never did get to fulfill the promise of playing the role of Sandy in Grease either, after my teacher thought that the two chosen to play Sandy and Danny, who were real life boyfriend and girlfriend would capture the roles much better. Instead I was subjected to playing a Venus Fly Trap and dancer in The Little Shop Of Horrors thereafter, and one of the show girls in the 1954 musical There's No Business Like Show Business after that.
I guess it was just the way things worked out, but I had fun experiencing it all the while. And from that discovered my love for singing. I wonder what Dorothy, Oliver and Sandy are up to nowadays....