The Singing Nun

Having an American accent in London can be a positive or a negative for an actor: there are fewer parts for Americans, but fewer people competing for them. So I always keep my eye out for castings requesting “native American speakers” (presumably they don’t mean American Indians). My agent sent me on an audition for a low budget musical. I’m really not sure how she got the idea that I’m a singer, but the part was for an American so off I went.

When I got there I found out that the production was for a tour that would take me to Malta for a month. For this month’s work, away from home with no income from a day job, I would earn a whopping £500. Needless to say, I wasn’t too thrilled about the opportunity from the outset. Then I read the part. It was for a singing nun with a Brooklyn accent. I put aside visions of Whoopi Goldberg in a habit and tried to channel Joe Pesci’s performance in My Cousin Vinny for the accent. Even though script was so dated it had Ross Perot jokes in it, the casting director was in stitches when I read the part. After I finished he said he enjoyed my performance but thought I “rushed it a bit”. “You really need to savor the jokes in this wonderful script.”

Yeah, right. “Okay, should I read it again?”

“That won’t be necessary. What sheet music did you bring?”

“Excuse me?”

“What song will you be singing for us?” He motioned to the pianist.

“Oh um, I thought I’d sing a cappella.” I was thinking on my feet. Suddenly, I had flashbacks to two guys in the waiting room flipping through a binder full of laminated sheet music – now it made sense.

The pianist did a few scales and my mind raced to think of a song. I had just seen My Best Friend’s Wedding the night before, so I decided on Wishin’ and Hopin’ because I knew the words – enough of them anyway – and after all I was wishing and hoping the audition would end in a hurry.

When I finished singing, the casting director asked if I knew anything else. I tried to figure out what other song I could fake it through, but then I thought of going away for a month just when things were getting interesting with Marcus. I thought of the £500, which wouldn’t even cover a month’s rent. I thought of Ross Perot.

“You know what, I’m not really a trained singer.”

“Oh, well that’s a shame.”

Yeah, a real shame.