Thursday, January 11, 2007

"Look at this stuff. Isn't it neat?"

"Wouldn't you think my collection's complete?"

Ah, The Little Mermaid. When I walked into the HMV with my Christmas money, I just knew that if I didn't buy it, in the next couple months it would be tucked away into the Disney Vault for who knows how long (like Beauty and the Beast! ARGH!).

Sure, it wasn't true to the Hans Christian Anderson story. While appreciative of the movie's charms, my mother remains puzzled as to why Disney saw fit to try and adapt this story into a children's film at all, rather than just make up a similar story about a Mermaid. To Mother, The Little Mermaid was one of the first books that made her cry. To those of who you haven't read the original, I'll break it down for you.

The mermaid trades her voice for her legs, sure, but did you know that every step she took was as painful as if she walked on knives? And that the prince ended up marrying someone else? The moral of this story came when Ariel's sisters show up, and tell her that she can escape the punishment for failing to woo the prince (none of this turn-into-kelp-with-a-face Ursula mojo - she fails, she turns into seafoam) if she kills the prince and allows the blood to flow onto her legs, which will turn her back into a mermaid. Ariel refuses, and she dies - in some other versions, she becomes a "daughter of the air", a kind of wind-sprite with the potential to earn a human soul and attain heaven, but either way she doesn't get her man. She sacrifices everything important to her for a man, and ends up punished for it. You could even say it was a cautionary tale for women, because she essentially abandoned her family's advice and allowed herself to be taken advantage of.

Sad, no? The movie is quite a bit happier than that. All respect to HCA, but I love this movie. This film was probably the movie that locked in my obsession with cinema. According to my parents, at five years old I only needed to see the movie once before I could recite entire passages from the screenplay and sing every song word-for-word from memory. I must have watched it a million times after that, which made for rewatching the film now quite an interesting experience. I hadn't seen the movie for about ten years, and throughout the movie I experienced a keen, conflicting emotion of being reminded of something while simultaneously knowing that I never forgot it. I must have locked all those memories away somewhere, and once the first song ("Fathoms Below") came on, the door was opened, and everything rushed back to the surface.

To my delight, for my university Mixed Chorus' year-end medley number, we're singing a medley from The Little Mermaid. And there is one solo in the production - Ariel's favourite half-sing, half-talk "Part of Your World" segment. Once the director announced the date of the auditions for the solo, about two dozen others girls around me gasped as one and scribbled the date in their notebooks. I just know that in the auditions, everyone is going to be singing in the exact same affected way it was performed in the movie. ("Youwantthingamabobs? Igottwenty!") I publically announced I was willing to stab someone to get the solo. While not entirely serious, I am so earnestly lustful for that solo. I'm going to practice all week, which will doubtless a) annoy the hell of of my sisters, because the solo in only about six lines long (beginning with "Look at this stuff..." and finishing with the "I want mooore" crescendo before the rest of the choir chimes in), and b) cause my parents to flashback to when I was five, which they will probably tire of quite quickly, seeing as I'm due to turn 21 this Saturday.

But I really, really, really, REALLY want to get that part. Not only would I sing it at the year-end concert, but it would appear on the CD, and would get sung and re-sung a million times while on tour. I wants it! The last time I auditioned for a solo (last year), I didn't get it - to be fair, it was supposed to be a kind of gospel-improv thing, which went to a girl and a guy who were both able to ad-lib (with varying degrees of success). But this part - this is the part for me, and Mum agrees. This is to be a Broadway part, full of expression and power. I cut my teeth on Broadway tunes (and won first place at the Kiwanis Festival, Musical Theatre Category [age 16 and up] with Camelot's "The Simple Joys of Maidenhood"), and in the choir I'm always placed in the middle row on the end, because I have an enormous, loud, carrying voice. And did I mention I've probably sung this song, like, a million times?

The thing is, I'm not going to be the only girl auditioning, and I can honestly say I have a far smaller chance of being the best singer in this kind of group. I want this part so badly I can't picture I'll do anything good if I don't get it. I can imagine myself feeling extremely resentful, probably hating the girl who does get the role, spitefully convincing myself that her voice is reedy and she's too breathy and she's obviously just imitating the original Ariel voice, singing louder than usual during rehearsals and performances just to show everyone how wrong they were not to pick me, not going on tour, skipping over the medley entirely whenever I listen to the eventual CD on my iPod...

Of course, the reason I'm writing all this down now, is so that if I don't get this role, I'll be prepared so that I don't do all those things. I probably will be incredibly depressed and resentful for a while, but I'm going to make a very great effort to be nice to the girl who does get it, and just enjoy singing as a group (because that's the entire reason I'm in the choir in the first place, because it's fun to sing with a large group of people), and singing properly in a group - I'm just as concerned about how the choir sounds as a whole, and I wouldn't sabotage the entire performance because of one solo. And who am I kidding? Of course I'm going to listen to the medley on the CD - it's just good music. I'll just try for the solo next year.

But I'd like to think I have a chance to get this solo. I'm going to run over every word, every note, every expression, about a million times this week because this movie, this song, this solo, means so much to me, and has meant this much to me for about sixteen years, in regards to the movies that I like, the music I enjoy, and the songs that I've sung. Wish me luck.


  1. Hey, Happy Birthday! I look forward to having you in my class this year, from what I've seen, you're a really awesome person, and we do have a thing or two in common.

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