Author: Kara Mae Adamo.
I know this may come as a shock to most of you—what with my bubbly personality and typically sunny disposition—but I am not a Disney person. I actually harbor paranoia that, whilst walking among the fanny-pack clad tourists, I might be mistaken for a child and scooped up by one of the “fur” people and given a hug. (“Fur” is the term used to describe any non-human-looking creature roaming about the parks. Mickey, for instance, is a “fur.”) And so, though I do live in Orlando—Mickey and Minnie’s backyard—I have successfully managed to evade such horrors by avoiding the Magic Kingdom completely for the last three years.
And then I went to dinner with my friend, Alana.
It was a much-needed girls’ night out, filled with window shopping, wine, and (of course) dessert. (A side note about the dessert: it was a slice of chocolate cake on top of a slice of cheese cake. I challenge you to think up a more magical situation.) In amongst the obligatory girl-mumbling about how our dessert was justifiable because we were heading straight to the gym to do 3 hours of cardio and a thousand sit-ups the moment we left the restaurant (lies), we began to talk about work.
Alana, who is earning her degree in vocals at UCF, happens to work for Disney. As she is a performer, she has been going to the various auditions they hold every Thursday to see if she can become a cast member. Under normal circumstances, I would just nod my head and go “Oh, yeah? Dude, I could totally see you as like Snow White! (She’s the spitting image)” and then go on about my business, happily avoiding that scary place with the bright colors, screaming ice cream-covered children in mouse ears and, of course, the “furs”. The particular audition Alana was talking about, however, was different. Evidently, Disney is holding its annual Star Wars show, and so an open casting call was being held to find people to fill the roles.
Oh my god, I thought, I can be an Ewok.
Yeah. I can dress up like a friggen Ewok and get PAID FOR IT. Are you kidding me? The only issue I’m going to have there is convincing myself to give the costume back at the end of every shift. If I had an Ewok costume, I’d be like every toddler ever to don a superman costume. I’d wear it like pajamas and kick and scream because my friends won’t let me wear it out in public.
And so, the following Thursday, I met Alana in the parking lot of her apartment complex with the hopes of conquering my phobia of Disney’s dreaded “fur” creatures by becoming one. Hah HA! I shall return from this victorious feat in exulted teddy-bear-like glory!!
We drove out to the Animal Kingdom, where Disney holds their Thursday auditions and parked the car. It was like eight in the morning, but the main room was brimming with college students hoping to make some side cash or add to their performance portfolios.
In honesty, I didn’t know what to expect. I’m a theater major and I’ve actually got an okay background in it, but casting calls have always been on stage wearing outfits similar to those of the character you wish to portray. Since the entire reason I was there was to get an Ewok costume, I opted for jeans, doc martins, and a casual/trendy long tank with a draped neckline. I figured, since Ewoks are “furs” that just kind of stand around and take pictures with kids and scify geeks, I might as well look presentable but not the way one would normally dress for a job interview.
So I get there and there is literally a line out the door filled with people of varying shapes and sizes getting measured. It was quick and to the point. You take your shoes off, you stand up against the scale thing, they read off your height, you write it down, you take a number, and you sit around and wait. Once Alana and I made our way through the line—and once my height was reaffirmed to be 4 foot 10 ¼” on the dot—we sat down and chatted about how, every time Alana’s come she hasn’t been called. It’s the way it goes with auditions. You show up, you hope for the best, and generally they don’t even talk to you. I was wearing a blue number. Alana was wearing a red one. I didn’t think much of it until they started calling blue numbers—including mine.
It didn’t take too long for me to figure out why I was called up. My third-grader sized self stood in line next to other dwarfs—and one actual midget—and gazed up at our comrades: mammoth men averaging around 6’5”. So there we had it: the Ewoks and the Wookies had been chosen.
We filed into the hallway, where we were given pencils and various forms to fill out. I looked around at every one and felt excited. My inhibitions had been thrown to the wind!! I was going to be a Star Wars character—my size had won me the roll!! That bubbling terror of roaming Disney’s parks was now but a simple lump in my throat—passable and hardly a hindrance!
It came time for headshots.
I ran my fingers through my hair for the ninth time and gazed as my co-midgets stepped up to beam Disney-like smiles at the camera. Something about them seemed a bit strange. They were all wearing jazzy shoes, tank tops, and sweat pants. Huh, I thought, gazing at my docs, weird. Then again, UCF is filled with girls who wear their pajamas to school, so while that might have been my first clue that something was amiss, I shrugged it off.
I suppose I should have caught on before that…when I realized that the forms were asking if we had any special gifts, such as baton twirling or acrobatics.
I have no such gifts.
It is by the grace of god I can even walk properly. In fact, when I was in junior high, the seventh grade English teacher, Mr. Herring, used to call me “Pole Girl” because I ran into the poles at school on a weekly basis. I fall down stairs, smack into doors, and have tripped over in the lunch room because the boots I was wearing had hooks and the shoe laces from each shoe got tangled together. I have no equilibrium. The fact that I have served tables for as long as I have is a cruel, ironic twist of fate that will surely end in my and possibly someone else’s demise—and it should be treated as such.
And yet, here I stood…in front of a suspiciously hidden room full of mirrors and lots of…space to move around. My eyes popped out of my head as I gazed at it. The wall of mirrors…the CD player in the corner…the jazz-hands gay guys in front of the room with the permanently-fixed excited looks on their faces…oh, no.
“OKAY!! HEY EVERYBODY!” the flamboyant dance instructor clapped his hands. My legs grew stiff as we were shuffled in to the center of the room. “My name is Patrick, and we are going to be learning a brand new dance Disney’s performing for the NEW Star Wars show!!”
My perky comrades cheered. My eyes darted around. CRAP! I had only one means of escape…and the mirror was reflecting my path for all to see!!
“Alright, all of our Ewoks should be in the front…you tall guys go in the back. Now,” Patrick, flailed his arms about happily, “this is going to be the routine you dance to during the Wookie versus Ewok dance off. It’s hip hop with a little Disney twist, so—can we get the music? Alright, here we go!! AND Slide right, step, bring your arms up like this…and then slide to the left and heal-toe…turn and clap…”
Before I knew what was going on, I was being shuffled to the right. In my clunky doc martins I stomped on the poor little girl next to me before twirling half a second too late to my left. All of the tall guys were blocking the door. I had no choice. I had to join in.
I gulped and jumped forward. I looked up. Everybody had gone back on their heels. I went right—they went left. They hopped—I twirled. I marched—they leapt. At one point, since my feet were carrying five-pound boots, I landed wrong on my left ankle and almost fell over onto one of the gigantic dudes.
That’s when I realized that, while my legspan is half that of any normal person, I some how managed to “dance” my way to the center of the room. Which lands me about three feet farther from the door than I had started.
“Okay, everybody! Now…let’s do it with the music a few times and then we’re gonna freestyle and show everyone what you’ve got!!”
And then…the music started.
I’m not sure what I pictured for the fifteen minutes or so we’d been dancing without music…but whatever it was had NOT prepared me for what started playing.
Please picture, if you will, a group of 4-foot tall Ewoks doing a dance-off, hip-hop routine against 8-foot Wookies to a DISNEY-styled hip-hop rendition of the 1987 song Time of Your Life.
And now picture me…hair flying about, arms flailing, rhythmically challenged and stumbling at will…in the very center of all of these cheerleaders and dance majors.
I promise you. The mental image doesn’t do it justice. The reason I can guarantee that is that this situation was reflected back to me…and thereby everyone else in the room…by the mirrors set up in front of us. So I stuck it out. I kept “dancing”…ish…for another ten minutes or so.
Then Patrick twirls about after finishing showing us this weird west-side-story move and says, beaming of course, “OKAY!! Now, people, from the top—and at the end I wanna see thirty seconds of freestyle. Let’s show-them-what-you’re-made-of!” (he literally clapped at that last part).
Some people chose the robot. Some people chose to twirl into some ballerina jazz move. Others chose to jump into a bad-ass break-dance routine.
My Enrique Eglacias move was the best. When it came time for me to freestyle—I shocked them all. I pivoted on my left foot and made a frantic bee-line for the door, ducking under the arms and legs of the giants that blocked it.
Red-faced and clutching my jacket, I smacked directly in to the girl dance instructor, who was making her way out with all of our forms. “Oh! Uh…I, um…yeah…I, I have to go…” I said, slipping into the hall. I looked up to see a line of people staring at me. “I—I never expected to be called…I…I have a thing, and…” I started fumbling with my blackberry as if I had some terribly important message to attend to.
The woman just stared at me in a shocked stupor. “Oh, um…”
“If I don’t get picked, it’s okay—really—I’m fine with it, I just…I just really have to go, sorry!” And then I bolted down the hall. Then I stopped and looked back, “how do I um?”
“Just follow the colorful footprints,” one of the people in line said. I looked down at the colorful paw print stickers on the floor. “Ah. Of course.” And then dashed down the hall.
It hadn’t occurred to me, during my sly, inconspicuous getaway, that Alana would still be waiting in the very same room we’d just come from…nor did it occur to me that, when she’d get called, I’d have to wait there for her while every single person from that room and hallway walked past me on their way out to the parking lot.
Alana’s audition went as such: she lined up, faced the casting directors, and was told that she did not in fact look like an alien. She said “I know,” shrugged, and walked back to the main room to see me cowering behind my blackberry like the guilty lying-chicken-shit that I am.
We drowned ourselves in IHOP crepes and flavored coffee after that—I because I can’t dance, and she because she does not, as I said, look like an alien.
Then I proceeded to go rock climbing in the same exact shoes. Alana sent me a text message telling me that I was having quite the wardrobe malfunction. Damned witty theater puns.