The Acapocalypse hadn’t been able to secure a lecture hall for auditions like The Grand Standers did. In truth, without membership as an official student organization—which apparently took at least a semester, and usually a full year of waiting—they were hard pressed to secure any space at all. Amanda ended up brokering a deal through a girl in her philosophy class who was an RA. Josh hadn’t even known the school had residence halls, much less RAs, but was grateful for small favors. They secured a lounge space with a big whiteboard and a piano, which seemed pretty ample by that point.
And so, the two of them headed over early, rearranged all of the couches and set up shop. After three weeks of communicating over Facebook and Gmail, the audition itself marked the first time Josh actually saw Amanda since graduation night, months before.
“You look good.” Amanda stood at the opposite end of a dorm couch from him as they rearranged them to clear something resembling a performance space for the auditionees. She was smart—having warn a pink t-shirt and jeans, prepared to move furniture, making do with the facilities given. Josh hadn’t thought of that, and wore a pressed collar shirt and khakis, trying to look professional.
“Thanks. You too.” He knew he should say more, or get them off on another topic so his awakwardly simple response didn’t just hang in the air. But becoming aware of this led to extended thought, which led to further inaction.
For all the time the two of them spent together in high school, it shouldn’t have been awkward to hang out with Amanda. She had said she still wanted to be friends back in June, and he really wasn’t closed off to the idea. A summer apart seemed like the right buffer to get them over that hump. And yet, it occurred to him Amanda would be a new friend to him—that he knew her as a girlfriend, but had very little experience interacting when he couldn’t hold her hand, or rub her shoulder, or kiss her cheek.
Fortunately, the auditionees started to show up, redirecting their attention. When a cappella came to the fore, Amanda was no stranger at all.
Most of the people who showed up turned out to be mediocre a cappella prospects. They used the scoring sheets Josh had drawn up with 1-10 ratings evaluating their performance at sight-reading, matching notes, and on their solos. After the first hour, it seemed as though they’d mostly be taking people with average scores of six over those who had earned fives—a subtle dividing line, but something to distinguish folks and give the group a starting place.
Things picked up, though. Russ Campbell came in with deep stubble, scraggly long brown hair, a red flannel shirt and faded jeans that reminded Josh of Judd Nelson’s character in The Breakfast Club. But sure enough, the guy could hit his notes, and his solo choice of 30 Seconds to Mars’s “This Is War” was a refreshing, if slightly screamy, departure from the norm.
Andrew Flaherty followed him, and announced he had prepared a solo from Phantom of the Opera. Amanda said they weren’t interested in musical theatre—a bit of a harsh cut off, Josh thought, for a polished singer who had nailed the opening pieces of his audition. He suspected the guy’s smug smile and decision to wear a blazer and tie may have deterred Amanda from him. Nonetheless, after a moment of thought, Andrew launched instead into a rendition of “Piano Man” by Billy Joel. The song came across a bit to crisp and theatrical to really seem off the cuff, and Josh suspected it was all part of the act. Nonetheless, he was quite arguably the best musician of the day up to that point.
The line of auditionees thinned out at the two hour mark, and a half hour past that, there was only one girl left waiting. She wore a white blouse and plaid skirt, and put her hair up in a ponytail--all in an un-ironic way. In the chitchat before she started singing, she revealed she wasn’t a full-time student, but rather in her junior year of high school and accelerated in all sorts of subjects, such that she took half her coursework at the college.
“I hope it’s still OK if I audition?”
Josh didn’t so much as give Amanda a sideward glance. Contrary to The Grand Standers, Josh had every intention of being inclusive—of offering a home to talented singers, regardless of different backgrounds or student statuses. “Absolutely.” He looked back down at her information sheet. “Absolutely, Katie. Let’s get on with it.”
The girl didn’t quite know how to project but her pitch came across near perfect, and she had a very good sense of rhythm and tone. Then came the solo. Through the competitions he had attended and the many more YouTube clips he studied after, Josh had seen easily a dozen groups take on Imogen Heap’s “Hide and Seek,” mostly as choral numbers. Katie took a whole new spin on it, though, so precise in her diction, so clean. Her voice rose surprisingly high where it needed to. Josh’s eyes veered down to Amanda’s scoring sheet, and he was unsurprised to see her circling a perfect 10.