Dolly and Bunny in the City that Never Sleeps…

Last weekend was a BFF extravaganza.  My husband went away to Montauk for his brother’s bachelor party, so I stayed at home in Brooklyn and had a little party of my own with my friend Reagan.  There is something about my friendship with Reagan that makes both of us revert back to grade school giggling, where we laugh until we can’t breathe at just about nothing.  Do you have any friends like that?  You know, the kind that make you laugh so hard you pee?  Reagan is that friend for me.  We’ve been friends for a long time, and have been with each other through some pretty tough stuff, but we’ve always managed to laugh and that’s what I love most about our friendship.  Laughter is what makes our relationship so special.

Me and Reagan aka Dolly and Bunny

When I was young my grandma used to tell me stories about her friend, who was nicknamed Babe, and all of the shenanigans that the two of them got into.  I loved those stories, and I could always picture Babe and what she must have looked like, with her strawberry blond hair in banana curls and red lipstick.  Usually the stories all had a similar theme with Babe being the more adventurous one, and my Grandma, whose name was also Sarah, following her lead and getting into trouble.  I’m not sure if my Grandma had a nickname, too, if she did, she never told me.  Sometimes I like to imagine that she did, and what it might have been.  About a year ago, I told Reagan the story about my grandma and her friend Babe, and she decided we needed ‘old lady nicknames,’ too, for when we tell stories someday.  Thus, the nicknames Dolly and Bunny were coined.

This past weekend was filled plenty of Dolly and Bunny stories and tons of hilarious antics.  What if I told you we saw a psychic, took in an awesome Off-Broadway show, visited Reagan’s daughter named Piper Jane, and sang Kumbaya with Woody Harrelson?  Would you believe me?  And yes, that last one is true.

Our weekend was quite eventful.  On Saturday, we saw an Off-Broadway show in Soho.  Reagan’s friend Jen is a really talented lighting designer for numerous Broadway shows, and highly recommended a musical she recently worked on called Triassic Parq.  It’s a hilarious parody about Jurassic Park from the dinosaurs points of view, and I’ve got to tell you, I felt truly inspired by the fine arts after seeing it.

Triassic Parq

Reagan and I have talked about going to a psychic forever, but the timing has never been right.  After seeing Triassic Parq, we walked out of the theater and were just about to hail a taxi cab, when some crazy gypsy lady called out to us from her little shop.  We kept on walking until we both took one look at each other and said, “Should we go back and do it?”  We said, “What the hey,” and turned around and went for it.

Me getting my reading.  So…the gypsy lady told me I was going to have twins…BOYS!

A weekend with Reagan wouldn’t have been complete without a visit to Blythedale to see  her sweet daughter, Miss Piper Jane.

One of the happiest and silliest kids I know.

The Pip loves stories about pink fairy princesses.

Reagan and I being silly and trying to fit in Piper Jane’s super cute plaid blazer.

It really was a great rendition of Kumbaya.

So, why were Reagan and I hanging with Woody Harrelson?  Reagan’s friend Jen, the lighting designer, is working on a new play with him and she invited us to join the rest of the crew for a bite to eat after a rehearsal.  Woody was really nice, and as I mentioned before, we really did sing Kumbaya with him.  Yes, it was random, and I have no idea how or why that happened…but it did.

Last weekend is sure to go down in Dolly and Bunny history.  Just like my grandma’s friend Babe who was always getting her into mischief, Reagan certainly gets me into some monkey business, but I don’t mind.  It gives me plenty of material for many ‘old lady stories’ to tell in the future.

I used to wonder if I would ever have a friend like my grandma’s friend Babe.  I think life has a funny way of bringing people into your life that bring out something different in you that no one else does.  Maybe Reagan brings out my goofy side.  Maybe Babe brought out the silliness in my Grandma, and that’s why she had such fond memories about her.  All I know, is that I’m sure happy that I have a true friend, a Bunny, and that we laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh.

~The End.

Photos by Broadway.com and moi.

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Part 3: Stories from the Good Ship Lollipop…The End…

Continued from Part 2…

Part 3:

I went back to see That Old Wench one last time, and I hoped we would be besties.  False.  I just hoped she wasn’t going to make me cry, but being as though I already had my “cry face” on (aka; The cry-face is the face you get when you are trying not to cry, but everyone else can totally tell you’re going to bust), I had a bad feeling this was not going to end well, and it didn’t.  The last thing That Old Wench told me right before I left to go to the biggest audition of my life was…get ready for it, get ready…ready?

She said, “You’re not going to get this part.”  She just plainly looked at me like I was a piece of dust on her coffee table, and the words seemed to effortlessly spill from her mouth. That is literally all she said.  I sat there on that same dusty couch I had sat on for the last two days, and I was stunned.  Never one to be at a loss for words, I was completely dumbfounded, but I wasn’t sunk yet. I wasn’t about to cry (even though I had my cry face on), because That Old Wench was not going to get one tear out of me.  That Old Wench can go blow.

I arrived at the audition nervous, but more excited than anything else.  I put the words of That Old Wench in the back of my mind, and I was feeling good.  As I walked through the doors I was not ready for what I was about to see.  I saw at least ten little heads all ‘a chop complete with bangs and bobs and in the Mary Lennox hairdo.  Oh my God, I think I just hallucinated…Was this really happening?? Why, yes, yes it was.  It was my worst nightmare realized, and coming to me in the form of bangs and bobs.  Why me?  Why meeeeeee??? (<–FYI; To this day, I still can’t stand to see this haircut.  When Katie Holmes got the bangs and bob, I had to look away for at least six months.) I don’t know if it was That Old Wench’s words coming back with full force, or if it was that I was psyched out by all the little bangs and bobs invading my personal space, but I began to feel really discomBOBulated <–No pun intended.

I waited outside the audition room for my turn, and I suddenly loathed my dumb beret(<–FYI; To this day I can’t listen to Raspberry Beret by Prince.) Just when the bangs and bobs were about to undoubtedly drive me straight over the edge…

My name was called by a girl with a clipboard, “Sarah Barkoff?”

“Yes, here,” I said and got up and went into the audition room.

I was nervous walking into the room, that had at least eight people sitting at a long table staring at me wondering if I was their Mary Lennox, but escaping the bangs and bob room from hell, seemed to do wonders for my nerve.  I was asked to do my first song, and then go straight into the dialogue, which I did, and I felt like everything was falling into place. It wasn’t until the beginning of my second song, that the audition began to take a turn for the worse.

The woman in the first seat all the way to the left said, “Okay Sarah, now can you do the same line, but do it a little more perturbed?”  She said this as she talked to me like a baby.  Awkward.

Okay lady, WHAT THE EF does ‘perturbed’ mean??!! I’m 11, you crazy broad(<–inner thoughts and feelings…)  I started to panic, and think about That Old Wench’s last words to me.  And for some odd reason, I don’t know why, but all I could think of was the little blond girl from the picture in That Old Wench’s apartment, with her cool jean jacket on.  I thought to myself, “Laura Bell Bundy wouldn’t blow this audition…Laura would never show up in a dumb beret, she would have gotten the bangs and bob…Laura. Would. Get. The. Part.”  Except little did I know, Laura wouldn’t have gotten the part, because the part wasn’t for a blondie, it was for a brunette-ie.  Oh, little did my 11-year-old self know…

“Okay, sure,” I said as I proceeded to do the same line the exact same way, because I had no clue what the ef ‘perturbed’ meant.

“Okay Sarah, thank you very much.  We will let your agent know when we have made a decision,” said the woman in the first seat all the way to the left.

For those of you who don’t know, those exact words, nothing more, nothing less, is basically the kiss of death in showbiz.  I knew it was over the second I heard the dreadful, “Okay Sarah, thank you very much.”  Usually if there is a chance of sealing the deal, there will be more dialogue between the auditionee and auditioner, and inquiring about the logistics of accepting the role, but really at 11-years-old, I figured as much because they never asked to speak with my mom or dad afterward.  So, I knew.

And I was right.  I didn’t get the part.  The casting people told my agent that they actually really did like me, but that I looked too mature for the role, and they wanted a little girl who had a younger look, so all in all, I just wasn’t right for the part. (P.S. Thank God I didn’t cut my hair!  Thanks Ma!)  When all was said and done, I went home to Michigan, and did not go back to New York City for any auditions for the next 8 years.  However, my dream of playing  Mary Lennox in The Secret Garden did come true about a year later.  I played the part in a professional production of the show in Ann Arbor, MI, and the best part was, I still got to be a normal kid and stay put in Michigan with my family.  I still think leaving New York when I did was the best decision I ever made, and I am happy that I was able to have all the normal experiences a kid should have, and that I had a chance to just blend in with my peers for while.

The End…Just kidding!  Are you crazy?  I’m not about to not give you a follow-up on everyone involved in this story!

First things first…

That Old Wench:  Well, apparently That Old Wench is alive and kicking (I googled her), and likely still making other little girls cry.  I would tell you her name, and show you a picture of her, but then I would have to kill you.  Just kidding, but I don’t want to get sued for slander!  Hint:  I will tell you that she recently wrote a way famous screenplay, with a way famous lead actress in the lead role, based on a popular book and blog. 

Next we have…Laura Bell Bundy…

Remember this classy little broad?

Laura Bell Bundy is now a way famous country singer, so apparently I had an eye for talent. P.S. Love me some big hair, too, Laura.

And then there's me. I'm not famous or anything, but I'm happy. Hooray.

Photos courtesy of candistar.com and laurabellbundyfans.com

 

 

 

 

Part 2: Stories from the Good Ship Lollipop

Continued from Part 1…

Part 2:

I could tell she was now up for a challenge, because the corners of her devious smile began to droop, her eyes narrowed, and I watched the expression on her face go from the look of crafty self-amusement, to full-blown committed hostility toward me. She suddenly really started to resemble Humpty Dumpty’s egg head to me, and it made me chuckle to myself.  When I got another glimpse of her staring at me, almost as if she could read my mind, I suddenly felt really scared of her.  I looked down at my pea green tights for words to break the ice to That Old Wench…Anything…Anything???  Well, my tights weren’t offering up any answers…

“Well, I mean, I have been told I have that special sparkle before,” I said matter of factly, and now no longer using the English accent that I had been instructed to use.  (Note: The term “sparkle” would go on to become a common theme all throughout my life to describe this sort of vague, unattainable attribute that was supposedly the key to all success in showbiz.  Almost like what the Emerald City is to Dorothy…<–but more on that much later.)  So back to the story…

Her eyes tapered even more now, and seemed to be singling me out as if to look at me, and only me, under a magnifying glass.  She no longer seemed as sour, but now like she was considering something thoughtfully. She took a few more seconds to focus and said, “There are two kinds of kids.  Kids with the sparkle, and kids without the sparkle.  Personally, I don’t see the sparkle in your eyes.  We’ll rehearse your lines, and at the end I will tell you if you’ve changed my mind.” Well, isn’t that special?  That Old Wench was going to be so kind as to let me prove myself?  Whatever in the world did I do to deserve such an honor?

I don’t know why, but I have always been the type of person to fall for that kind of challenge. Maybe it’s because I have also always been a believer in the possibility that if you just try hard enough, you can have the power to change someones mind, whatever that might be. But I will say, I have learned throughout my life with similar mind games like these that Number 1:  The person on the other end who sets up a test like that, is someone who is manipulative, likes to be in control, and enjoys the power position. <–e.g., someone like That Old Wench…Duh! Number 2:  You very very very rarely can change someone mind once they’ve made it up anyway.  So, all in all, I see now that this was a lost cause before it even began, but one that I could have never seen coming in my 11-year-old mentality.

One part of me thinks that That Old Wench was just trying to bring me out of my shell, but another part of me thinks that instead of getting into a verbal brawl with an 11-year-old, she opted to toy with my confidence instead.  What a dame.

We rehearsed lines for hours that day.  My time with That Old Wench was supposed to be over after one session, but she was knew that my big audition was the next day, and she wasn’t done screwing up my universe just yet. When my parents came back to pick me up, she made a proposal to bring me back one more time the next day, right before my audition to brush up on my English dialect so that it would be fresh for the audition.  My parents agreed, and That Old Wench got her way.

The morning of my big audition was a very tense one.  I was very nervous, and the words of That Old Wench were dancing around in my head ruining my confidence.  I dreaded going to see her again, but I was still hopeful I could change her mind about me. <–Aw, what I lil’ sweetheart.

For my big audition I wore a white turtle neck shirt, a flower print jumper (as my mom would call it), white tights, and black maryjane shoes.  I wore my hair half up and half down with my lucky beret…Naturally.  I don’t know who started this, but I am guessing it was established  with Daisy Eagen who originated the role of Mary Lennox in The Secret Garden on Broadway, but it was custom for whoever played the part, to cut their hair in a chin length bob with bangs.  So sassy.

Daisy Eagan the originator of the Mary Lennox bob?

Or maybe the hair was inspired by the book cover of the children’s novel?

Maybe she inspired it?

Either way, I soooo wanted that bob with bangs.  I felt like I would be the key to my success if only I had the Mary Lennox bob…but I am sure my mom thought it wasn’t necessary to cut my hair off until I was cast in the role. Fail.

I went to see That Old Wench one last time, and I hoped we would be besties.  False.  I just hoped she wasn’t going to make me cry, but being as though I already had my “cry face” on…

To be continued…

Photos courtesy of senorparrot.com and ohheyshowtunes.tumblr.com

Part 1: Stories from the Good Ship Lollipop

Backround:

When I was 11 years old, I had just finished the national tour with Les Miz for two years as Young Cosette, and after that, I found myself struggling to get acting jobs.  I was at that awkward age when you’re not really a kid, but not a teenager either. A struggling actress already at the age of 11?  How special.  It always seemed normal to me, though.  I had acted for so long at that point, that the in’s and out of showbiz were nothing new to me.  I was accustomed to being treated like an adult, and it never bothered me that I was not a normal kid like all my friends at school.  I distinctly remember not wanting to be normal. I can remember receiving very candid criticism from casting directors at a very young age, and I learned to take the kind of critique that most people don’t experience until they’re starting their first jobs out of college.  I was this little pseudo adult in a child’s body, dealing with real adults, in a very grown up showbiz world.

My dream was to be just like the childhood star Shirley Temple, but even Shirley Temple struggled to get work once she reached adolescence.

Me on the right as Young Cosette. Yes, that is dirt all over my face.

NY, New York, 1994.  Some apartment somewhere in Manhattan:

I’m wearing my favorite pea green dress, with pea green tights, with a pea green cardigan,  pointy toe brown ankle riding boots, and a matching beret (because hats were my signature.)  All from Gap Kids, naturally.  I have been sent by my agent to visit a dialect coach, so that I can polish up on my English accent for my Secret Garden callback.  It’s for a replacement for the part of Mary Lennox in the Broadway production.  I have wanted this part so bad for the last year, and I have listened to the soundtrack in my Walkman for months and months.  I really want this part.  Bad.

I am sitting on an old, musty smelling loveseat in a smoke-filled room somewhere in Manhattan.  My parents are waiting for me outside, my dialect coach is shuffling around some papers while a ciggy hangs out of her mouth, and I am taking inventory of the room.  She has headshots of different kids she’s trained before me wallpapering her apartment.  I am looking at them, and wondering which of the kids got the roles in whatever they had auditioned for, and which kids did not.  I am searching the wall, which at the time resembles the Great Wall of China to my 11-year-old perspective, trying to look for some clue, when I see a little girl that catches my eye.  All the pictures are in black and white (because that’s how they did headshots in the 90′s), but I can still tell that the little girl in the picture I am looking at, is blond.  I think she is really pretty, and I decide that this b*tch has got style.  She is wearing an open jean jacket, with her hair pulled half up and half down.  Classy broad.  I scan for her name.  Laura Bell Bundy.  Hmmmm.  Who is she?  Well, whoever she is, I decide that whatever she was auditioning for, she probably got it, because she is pretty, and because I like her jean jacket.  Just as I am about to drift farther into my own thoughts, I am abruptly halted by the dialect coach, who from here on out I will refer to as That Old Wench.  Please take note, that I do not mean “wench” as in the Old English sort of way when they speak about fair maidens.  I mean wench, in the most unflattering way possible. Ok, thanks.

Don't ask me how I found this picture...

So, my daydreams are interrupted as That Old Wench is suddenly standing right in front of me.  She is short and stout and resembles the kinds of Humpty Dumpty.

She says, “Well well, little girl what are we working on today?”  She is speaking to me in an English accent, but I know she is not of the likes of the English, and that she is indeed American, because I had listened to her speak to my parents before they left me to wait outside.  So, naturally I am confused.

“Well, I am working on my audition for The Secret Garden,” I manage to spit out.

“And?  And?????”  That Old Wench demands.

“And I really want to get the part,”  I finally concluded relieved and satisfied with my answer.

That Old Wench looks me up and down and pulls another ciggy from her pocket, lights it, and slowly saunters to the couch opposite to me, plops down, and says in a very cavalier way, “When I speak to you in an English accent, I expect you to speak back to me in the same way.”

“Okay,” I say in my American accent.  Wait, thats not it, “Okay,” I correct myself in an English accent.  She looks somewhat pleased with me.  Wow, she’s a gem (<–sarcasm.)

She looks me up and down again, “You know, plenty of kids come in here, and sit right where you’re sitting, and before they even open their mouths, I can tell if they are gonna get the part,” she boasts.

For some reason I find this very intimidating…Wait what am I talking about?!  Of course I find it intimidating, I’m 11 years old.  I really don’t say anything to her at all, but I smile and nod nervously.

She looks at me plainly and says, “You, little girl, just don’t have the sparkle I am sad to say.”

Well, eff you too, lady.  Okay, that’s not what I said…or thought.  I was 11, but I am sure I thought something to that effect as she attempted to squash my dreams.  It’s okay, even at 11, I could take care of myself.

“Really?”  I said in my English accent, “That’s not what I’ve heard,” I said without skipping a beat.

To be continued….

Photos courtesy of stars-portraits.com and laurabellbundyfans.com