Happy Birthday

Use what you know. Don’t worry about what you don’t know.
~ Michael Shurtleff

I had been wanting to break back in to the theatre scene. When I was a fresh young pup out of theatre school I produced plays and put myself in them, I was so passionate, so serious about my craft.

I have always LOVED the theatre; I’ve found it to be mystical and at times larger than life itself.

Just coming back from a vacation, I was feeling relaxed and rejuvenated. I received an email about an audition for a Shakespeare company. They were holding two days of auditions and they were requiring everyone to learn choreography and perform a song that would be provided at the audition.

I sent my agent an email trying to figure out just how much of a singer they were looking for, and he said that they didn’t really care about having great vocal talent; they just wanted to see our personalities. I agreed to go to the audition.

The day had come, the time was near, and so I made my way to the theatre for my audition.

I arrived, signed in and shortly thereafter all forty of us were ushered in to the studio for the audition. The choreographer began her sequencing right away, I kept up, and I performed the piece well. After they had us perform the choreography several times, they said that we were going to have a ten-minute pause and to please warm up our voices for the singing portion.

Warm up our voices, with what and how? I stood frozen and bug eyed staring at them. I had no idea what to do, I couldn’t remember a song for the life of me, and everyone else sounded like they had either opera trained voices or that they were the next Idina Menzel or Taye Diggs; take your pick!

I didn’t have a yoga mat but I began doing sun salutations, and making sound; I sounded like death.

The ten minutes was up, the first group of eight performed their audition pieces they all sang songs from Cabaret, RENT, and Chicago! I was mesmerized momentarily until I realized that I hadn’t even thought about what I was going to sing! I had one of two choices available to me; they were either Happy Birthday or Mary Had A Little Lamb.

There was no place to hide, no jokes to crack, I certainly wasn’t going to give a pitch perfect Broadway performance, but I was going to give them me. I was in the last group and it was our turn to go up, as we were walking in to line, I went on the end so that I could at the least go last. Well, the director asked me to go first, I belted out Happy Birthday and I sang my heart out.

They were smiling, laughing, and shaking their heads, it was a goddamn disaster!

I couldn’t have been more proud of myself, it was humiliating, terrifying, all of those icky things, but I also felt like a superhero who had just conquered the world! On top of everything else the look of shock and horror on all of those kids’ faces were priceless. With the audition finally coming to an end, they asked us to wait outside because some one would be coming out to announce who was coming in for callbacks.

We made our way out in to the hall and people kept telling me how brave I was, telling me that I was such a trooper, someone even reached out to hold my hand, and I graciously thanked them for all of their kind words. A woman finally came out, gave a few details about when the callbacks were and began announcing names.  She announced mine. I got the callback.


The best piece of life, love, and career advice I have ever received is, ‘Be Yourself.’

You know yourself, so to thine own self be true, there is no other better version of you, than you.

Written By

Jessica Hinkson

2 thoughts on “Happy Birthday

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