Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Life lessons from "Love is in the Air"

Listening to Libbi Gorr on the radio tonight and she's playing John Paul Young's song "Love is in the Air" a hit from 1978. I wasn't very old in 1978 but I know this song very well because it featured in Baz Lurhmann's 1992 film "Strictly Ballroom".

"Love is in the Air" suited the daggy, romantic melodrama and the song had a second life as a hit.

It's also familiar to me because in 1994 I attended a music theatre summer school in Brisbane.  Todd McKenney was the dance teacher and he had us all doing the rumba to "Love is in the Air". I hear the opening bars and I'm back there on stage at the Lyric Theatre, ready to rumba.  It was such a good time! There were about 80 of us I think.  We had all auditioned for one of the hotly contested places.  High profile music theatre producers, directors and musical directors were our tutors and the focus was on audition techniques.

We spent a week being put through our paces as singers, actors, dancers and putting it all together in an audition situation. I worked on Miss Hannigan's song "Little Girls" from "Annie"  It was exhausting and wonderful.  And always so much easier for the blokes because they were so scarce.  There were plenty of women and so every audition was very competitive.  The cattle calls were such a brutal process.

I remember queueing for hours outside a night club in Brisbane's Fortitude Valley for an audition for the musical "Rent".  I was very well prepared after the summer school.  The line was moving really fast - never a good sign.  That meant that people were being dismissed on the basis of their look or the sound of their first two notes.  I walked into the room and had the opportunity to start my song.  I started to sing and expected to be dismissed with a "thank you" at any moment.  It didn't happen!  I got through my entire song! I wasn't called back, but I was thrilled that I'd been able to sing my whole song, rather than just being dismissed on my look.  It was like being a writer and having my manuscript rejected, but at least this time, they'd read it!  A lot of it was because I'd learnt how to walk in, claim the space as mine and make people pay attention.

I learnt my most important lesson as an actor out of this.  I always walk away knowing I've given my best possible performance.  If I don't get the job it's because I'm not what they're looking for and I don't take it personally.  This is a handy thing for life in general!  So is the ability to grab the attention of a room.

I do my best and the rest is out of my control.


  1. I loved that summer school. Very fond memories. Was that where we met?

  2. It was a great thing! Did we meet there or were we already singing in the Company of Voices? Not sure which one came first...