It was a few months after my old band Mythica and I had opened for Spin Doctors and Sister Hazel. We were still riding high off of our recent success, and I was looking forward to going back into the studio to cut my new album. I was headed to band practice when I got a call on my cell phone…
“Hello, this is Melissa.”
“Hi,” said a woman on the other end. “My name is Jen and I am with a talent recruiter in New York. We’re casting for a new musical on Broadway based on Spider-Man. Bono and The Edge are writing the music for it. Have you heard of them?”
My heart skipped a beat. Bono and The Edge? Are you freakin’ kidding me, lady?!
Composing myself, I asked Jen for more details: they were casting for the part of the villain spider goddess Arachne. Bono specifically wanted a singer who sounded similar to Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane or Elizabeth Fraser (of This Mortal Coil, Cocteau Twins, and Massive Attack fame, who I absolutely adore)—which led to Jen finding me through a Google search.
Despite my heart pounding a million beats a minute, I answered Jen’s questions – yes, I could come up to New York for an audition. Yes, I can be there next Wednesday. Thank you. Click.
Commence with VERY loud, excited screaming!!!
The next week, I was hurtling towards my very first (and only) Broadway audition in a terrifyingly fast New York taxi. I tried to contain my excitement, but I couldn’t help thinking that this could be it!
But walking through the front doors of the agency and gazing around the lobby, my heart quickly sank as I came to several sobering realizations: I was, at best, a seven in a room full of tens. I was the only blonde, blue-eyed girl in the room auditioning for the role of a black widow spider, so I wasn’t exactly going to be type-cast. And, the girl auditioning in the next room was a far better singer than me.
So, needless to say, I didn’t get the part. I’ll spare you the gory details of my audition…like how my uncontrollable nerves caused me to crack my voice twice, and how I bombed my line-reading (hey, I’m a musician, not an actor!) I was pretty bummed about not landing it. After all, how often do you get called to audition for a musical by Bono?
A few years later, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark started to hit the media, and it wasn’t good: many stuntmen had been injured, some seriously, due to apparent malfunctioning of safety nets and set rigs. And then Natalie Mendoza, the actress playing Arachne—the part I had auditioned for—left the show after sustaining a concussion during a preview show. Years later, citing financial distress and special effects challenges, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark actually went dark when the show permanently closed.
I was grateful for the incredible experience of auditioning for a real Broadway production, and humbled that a talent scout thought I was good enough of a singer to warrant a phone call. But I was most grateful for the fact that I wasn’t chosen at all and therefore avoided injury! (Thankfully, all of the injured actors and stuntmen made full recoveries.)
It reminds me that we all have a path in life, and sometimes that path is hard to find. My path was not becoming a Broadway actress. Instead, it was continuing my own independent music career, releasing more albums with my band Mythica, and later three more solo albums, including my latest one On a Cloud, Marooned, which I am extremely proud of and I think you will enjoy.
Here’s to finding our own paths, and dodging some close calls along the way!