Community Auditions: Star of the Day
June 22, 2014
Me? On TV?? Are you sure???
When I received an email over a year ago from the producers of “Community Auditions: Star of the Day” telling me that I was chosen to appear on the show, I wondered if it was spam. After reading a few times, I decided there was nothing in the email to convince me either way if it snuck past my junk folder by accident or was actually meant for my inbox. I sent a Thank You response and waited to see if it would bounce back to me or if the nice lady named Tina would respond. Lo and behold, it was Tina telling me she enjoyed my music and was so happy to hear that I would like to appear on their TV show. TV SHOW. Me? On television? I just got rid of my stage fright, like, 2 minutes ago.
For those of you who haven’t heard of Community Auditions, you’re obviously living…in Delaware, or SOMEWHERE that’s not a New England state. CA (what we New Englanders call it) is a singing competition that began 65 years ago. Looooong before Ed McMahon called for that fateful drumroll as he announced star ratings, before Simon Cowell’s square head began crushing people’s hopes and dreams and even before Blake Shelton and Adam Levine started dating. 65 years old. Older than my DAD. Say what, now? It’s true. Not by much, but it’s true.
Over the next few weeks, I prepared for my first appearance on TV. I filled out interview paperwork, chose and edited a song (to make it fit for stage time), planned a few outfits (nothing too sparkly or busy) and took more selfies than I ever thought possible. (Photos were needed for promo reasons, the selfies were just for fun.) #kiddingnotkidding
At 8:30am on June 22nd, 2014 I had to be at Dorchester’s Strand Theater, formerly a vaudeville palace turned movie theater turned live performance venue…:::deep breath:::…turned video shoot location, turned broadway musical theater, turned TV set. Phew. I was literally ROLLING in history at this place. We’re talking B.B. King, Public Enemy, Joe Perry, New Kids on the Block (obvi), Ruben Studdard, Tracey Chapman, Till Tuesday, LL Cool J…now ARLANNA SNOW? Ridiculous cast of characters. I digress. So there I was, dressed in my non-bedazzled clothing, being assigned to “Episode Three” and shooed in to “hair and makeup.” Total diva. While I watched the judges: Candy O’Terry, Sid Hashian, David Osmond, Charlie Farren and Steve Sweeney as well as host Billy Costa get their hair and makeup done, I met and chatted with some of the other talented contestants. Hours (no exaggeration) later, it was my turn. After they painted my face and fluffed my hair, it was time for my “Backstage Buzz” interview. I began to realize I was a bit hungry and thirsty. I figured it wouldn’t be too much longer now. I could deal.
Back out into the audience, I watched the filming of two whole episodes. It’s pretty crazy what goes into the filming of a TV show - especially a local, no-fuss TV show. Newsflash: a LOT more fuss than you’d think. About 400 takes, a few outfit changes, six pretty incredible performances and two “Stars of the Day” later, it was time to film Episode Three. Cue the Star Wars theme.
Before filming, they asked me to do a quick rehearsal with the house band; in my opinion, the TRUE stars of the day. These guys have talent coming out of their pores. I could’ve listened to them jam for hours, but we only had about 60 seconds. They played my song choice, KT Tunstall’s “Black Horse and a Cherry Tree,” like they’d been playing it their entire lives. Newsflash #2: They had NOT been playing it their entire lives. Nicest guys I’ve ever met, seriously. Mitch Chakour (on keys) made me feel at home the second I rolled out onto that stage. That’s the best feeling when you have a band behind you that just carries you through; their mere presence giving you the confidence and calm you need in front of those blinding lights and watchful eyes.
I remember when I first starting singing I couldn’t hear myself at all. I thought “Oh God, am I singing? Are there words coming out? My mouth is definitely moving, right? Am I dreaming? Am I naked?” All of a sudden the music stopped and I heard “CUT! CUT! No sound in the mic. Sorry.” Okay, I was fully clothed. I was moving. My vocal chords still worked. Take 2!
From that point on, it was like the finger that had been stuck on the slo-mo button skipped right over Play and hit FF (fast-forward for all you youngsters that just go by the double arrows now); everything was a blur but I still recall every important moment. I remember singing every lyric to one of my favorite songs, not missing any of the weird edits I had to make. I remember my voice cracking a few times but not minding because the song sounds a little cooler that way. I remember how warm the stage lights were on my face and I remember I couldn’t see a thing looking out into the theater. I remember feeling relieved when Billy Costa pronounced my name correctly and telling him how I had been writing songs for years. I remember the judges saying positive things while I nodded and smiled and appreciated their feedback, not caring too much about the numbers on their cards. I remember Andrew and Troy performing really well and feeling grateful that the three of us were like a little team in some strange way. I remember dancing to the closing theme song on stage with Troy and Andrew after Billy awarded Troy “Star of the Day.” I remember Mitch giving me a hug off stage, telling me he had a blast with my song and that I did really well. Mostly, I remember my Mom and Dad being the first two faces I saw when the door opened into the theater - both hugging me and saying they were so proud.
Once back in the theater, I had the opportunity to talk a little more about my songwriting with David Osmond, some of the other contestants who had not yet performed and some of the producers involved in the show. It was great to hear their thoughts and advice, and, swapping contact information, we promised to keep in touch. Although I’d only just met these people that morning, it seemed like I left the theater with a new group of friends.
Other than my one tiny regret of song choice (I wish I had gone with my gut and sang an original), my experience as a contestant on Community Auditions is one that I will file under “Highlights" in my Memory Catalog of Life. My niece watched my episode when it aired early last fall, turned to me and said “Auntie Lana, are you famous?” I answered “Not yet, Giovina. But hopefully someday one of my songs will be.” She responded “You’re definitely famous, you were on TV!” I’ll take it. :-)
Read my Online Feature here: Community Auditions: Arlanna Snow