As a kid, I did musicals. My first taste was a scene in a showcase at theatre summer camp. I had a brief solo and after that, I was sure I had What It Takes. I saw the community theatre in town was casting for the musical “Heidi” and I wanted in. For hours, I nervously practised the only song I knew I could sing for the audition, “Part of Your World” from The Little Mermaid.
See, the problem was I could sing but I couldn’t read music. I wasn’t a musician. I picked up on things as I listened to them, which is a neat skill to have but it makes it hard to, you know, learn new songs without hearing them. I listened to that part of The Little Mermaid VHS tape over and over until I knew every word and note.
I remember calling the theatre, anxious because I didn’t have the required sheet music for my musical audition. “What are you singing?” “…Part of Your World. From The Little Mermaid?” The manager chuckled and I was assured it would be fine, just as long as I let the pianist know. Maybe he was a big Disney fan?
The audition was packed. A lot of girls had come. 60, probably. Some vied for the lead role, but I was just content to show up and hope for the best. I sat and watched as they called each girl up one by one. They stood under a spotlight, announced who they were and what song they were singing, and then they sang part of the tune.
One girl, fairly early into the process, got up and announced who she was and her song, but I didn’t clue in until she started singing some familiar words.
“Look at this stuff? Isn’t it neat?”
“Wouldn’t you think my collection’s complete?”
No no no!
I reeled. She was singing my song! It was the version of wearing the same outfit as someone else and I was doing it at My Big Audition! When the girl finished, I hurried up to an adult in the wings.
“That’s my song like the same song I picked the same song oh no I don’t have another song and that’s my song and-”
I was told it was okay. This happened sometimes. Not to worry, I just needed to sit down, things were fine. They shooed me away.
I sat. But a few girls later… the song started again. “You want thingamabobs? I’ve got twenty.”
Girl after girl proceeded to sing that goddamn song. Enough that I lost track.
My name was called. I begrudgingly sauntered to the stage. Head down, already defeated. I stood in the hot light, raised up my head, and said, “Hello, my name is Lauren and I am singing… Part of Your World.” You could sense a collective groan.
I rushed the lyrics as I sang. Part of being nervous, I guess. Once I got to the “I want moooooore” lyric, the piano cut off. “Thank you!” the director shouted and it was on to the next girl.
I bawled in the car, convinced being cut off was a sign I’d screwed it up and I wouldn’t end up with a part.
After a few days of moping, I got a call from the director offering me a spot in the chorus. I was shocked and elated.
Since then, I’ve heard lots of stories of first auditions being a Disney song. I’ve heard “Part of Your World” a few times, too. What a relief. It wasn’t a faux pas, it was a right of passage! You start in theatre, you tread the boards, you sing some Disney songs. It’s just what you do.
And it’s kind of the perfect song, too, right? You want to be where the people are. You want to see them, see them dancing. You so desperately want to be apart of that world.