What’s In a Name?

Legwarmers

So you’ve always wanted to be on Broadway (just like half the restaurant staff in New York City).  Maybe you played the lead in Guys and Dolls in high school, or maybe you’ve only ever had the guts to sing into your hairbrush. Either way, if you dream of making it big on the Great White Way, there’s one golden rule for auditioning: answer to whatever name they call you.  If your name is Howard and they call you Billy, your new name is Billy.

Years ago, when my only aspiration was to see my name in lights, I auditioned for RENT. To say I was excited would be an understatement – I was over the moon (get it Rentheads?). I had prepared “Take Me or Leave Me” as my audition piece and planned to blow the last few hairs off the Casting Director’s head. Only I never even got to the opening note. 

I sat in a crowded room for about six hours, drinking water, making small talk with other insecure actors. Our knees bounced and our toes tapped as we sized up each other’s talent and waistlines. We were one piano intro from breaking into “I Hope I Get It” from A Chorus Line.

Finally, about twenty of us were herded into another room and were told to form a line. Memories of my 1st grade cafeteria came rushing back. A straight line? Really? Will we have to hold hands and then put our lunch in assigned cubbies?

A terrifying woman with a very direct gaze announced that she would be going through the line for roll call. “I will look at you. If I feel you look a part, you move on. If not, you’re out. If I mispronounce your name, do NOT correct me.”

She traveled down the line, ending careers before they’d even begun, until she stopped in front of me. “Lisa.”

“It’s Liza.”

“Out.”

Noooooooo! It was out of my mouth before I’d realized what I’d done!  (In my defense, if there’s one room where you’d expect someone to recognize the name Liza – as in Minelli – it’s in a room full of theater geeks.)

But there you have it – my one chance at a Broadway marquee, and I blew it all on ONE single letter.

So kiddos, remember, if you want in, LISTEN. After all, what’s in a name?

Tell us your funny name stories in the comments below!

When Liza isn’t writing, she’s eating some form of cheese, spending time with her husband and son, or binge watching TV shows.  Find her on Twitter and say hello @WriterLiza.

Photo Source: Bex Singleton

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