None of the Isle kids would admit that they actually wanted to be in the play, except for Evie and Dizzy and Gil; if asked, Mal and Uma would say that they were only there for the required extracurricular credit, and Harry would say that he wouldn't be caught dead gracing Bore-adon with his performance skills were it not for the fact that Uma was involved too, and even Jay, who wouldn't even be onstage (he was on lights and sound), would give some vague excuse about sticking with the others.
"It's an Isle thing," Carlos explained to Ben while familiarizing himself with the ropes backstage. "If you let people know you enjoy something, then they might want to take it from you."
Ben kept that in mind when he saw Uma reveling in the auditorium's acoustics under the guise of "testing" the sound (She made her voice fill the whole space, and Mal rolled her eyes at the unnecessary loudness.), or Jay cackling up in the sound booth as he played around with the lights (sometimes making the spotlight follow people for no reason, sometimes changing the color of the stage lights over and over, but always looking somehow more like a kid in a candy shop than he did around actual candy), or Harry and Dizzy picking the lock to the prop room so they could go nuts with the hats and masks and plastic weapons.
"Wow. A plastic sword," Mal drawled. "That's not redundant." Then Uma pretended to shoot her with a plastic gun, which led to a pretend battle with very real minor injuries (but no broken bones or bloodshed, to which Gil said, "That's what makes it a pretend battle.") and them getting kicked out of the prop room.
Their exuberance seemed to make Jane more nervous; she could frequently be heard babbling, "I mean, yeah, I'm auditioning, but I almost always end up in the background or doing hair and makeup; I'm just sort of here for fun, you know...".
Chad was scandalized by most of the VKs even being there ("Is nothing sacred?"), but he still easily complied when Dizzy asked him to waltz around the stage with her; he had been teaching her how to waltz just yesterday.
Audrey tried to seem disapproving of everyone's antics for maybe the first couple of minutes, but she was soon caught up in the thrill of having other people enjoy theatre as much as she did; she harmonized with Uma and borrowed one of Dizzy's four- now three -boas and, by the time auditions were about to start, was sitting with Evie on the old couch that had been a set-piece for one of last year's plays, both of them red-faced with laughter and draped in different-colored boas.
Fairy Godmother was there for the auditions, even though Miss La Bouff was the head of the Drama Department. She didn't say that it was to make sure none of the VKs pulled any shenanigans, but she kind of didn't have to.
"Alright, settle down!" Miss La Bouff called out, her Orleans accent thick as ever. She squeaked excitedly. "What a great turnout! I see old faces, I see new faces..." She clapped her hands.
"Are we auditioning for parts, or is this a general audition and you choose our parts?" Chad asked. The presence of the male VKs had emboldened him; normally, he made a show of being dragged into the auditorium by Audrey and using the wrong terms for things.
"General. All y'all are gonna perform a monologue and sing part of a song- whatever song you want -and I'll give you a part based on your unique strengths."
"Can we have props?" Audrey asked.
"Can people be our props?" Uma asked, mostly for future reference, since she already had a plan for this audition.
Miss La Bouff chuckled. "Oh yeah."
"If you have their permission!" Fairy Godmother hastily qualified.
"You have my permission," Harry said.
"My advice to all of you," Miss La Bouff said, "is to try to show us a side of you we haven't seen. Let us see your range. Acting is an exercise in vulnerability."
"I'll pass on that," Mal said under her breath, so that only Ben and Evie could hear her.
"Then you'll be cast as the Witch," Evie said breezily.
"Well, seeing as there isn't a role for a fairy..."
Miss La Bouff cleared her throat. "Now, if I could have everyone head into the audience seats so we can start the auditions with Audrey."
Audrey flounced up from the old couch and strode over to the middle of the stage whilst everyone else was taking their seats. Her audition was simple; she knew every song in Into the Woods, and she knew what role she wanted: Cinderella. So she sang "On the Steps of the Palace", and she took Miss La Bouff's suggestion into account; rather than singing the whole thing as prettily as she sang everything, she leaned into the frustration at some parts, nearly growling on the lines "He spread pitch on the stairs" and "still standing stuck in the stuff on the steps". She was comical in her fake agitation- she could be comical! She smacked herself in the forehead, changed moods on a dime. By the time the song ended and she was reading the generic monologue, her spirits were as high as the notes she had just hit.
Ben was up next, and he gave the most inoffensive rendition of "Sixteen Going on Seventeen" that anyone had ever heard. He did his awkward dancing and gestures. His goodnaturedness barely lessened in the monologue; it seemed he wasn't terribly invested in having range. Then again, he had joined the Drama Club because Audrey had begged him to, last year, and he was probably here for Mal this year. It was unclear whether he actually had a passion for theatre, so much as a casual enjoyment.
Chad was up next ("Grease Lightning", as always), then Dizzy, who had been coached by both Evie and Chad to sing "Tomorrow" from Annie, which went too well with her cheery cuteness to be remotely fair.
When Evie was called up, she dragged Mal with her, as a prop. Mal stood with her arms crossed as Evie slinked around her, singing "Charming" from Great Comet and intermittently caressing and spinning her, seeming to legitimately relish in the lyrics ("Oh, you beautiful thing."). She actually got Mal to blush (with a slight grudging smile and dagger-eyes clearly conveying "I'm going to kill you, Grimhilde!") by the time the first chorus came around; triumphantly, she sang out, "Oh how she blushes, how she blushes, my pretty!" and Jay turned the lights pink. Before the last chorus, she wrapped an arm around Mal from behind and with the other arm pointed into the audience, at Ben. "He is quite madly in love with you, my dear." The song ended with a final "Charmante, charming," and Evie bumped Mal's hip with her own and then kissed her on the cheek before the blushing fairy could stomp off in unconvincing indignation. ("Get a room," Uma snarked when Mal sat down, and Mal flashed a bright green glare her way.) Then Evie did her monologue, and it was starkly opposite to her song; she delivered it somberly, even crying actual tears, to the point that the piece somehow came to mean something brand new. The Isle kids tensed uncomfortably at her pretend-weakness, but then she smiled brightly at the end, as if the tears had never happened.
Gil was up next, and he sang a song from the Isle, to which he forgot the words halfway through and stood silently thinking about it for a few seconds before finishing it correctly with a bright smile. (Chad sighed audibly.) The monologue was a bit of a struggle, seeing as he was not good at reading, but one skill the Isle had taught him was how to bluff, so he blazed confidently through the words he did not know, recognize, or understand.
Harry surprised everyone by belting out some sort of comedic love ballad, after which he got a solid two seconds of silence before Jay shouted from the sound booth, "No offense, but I was positive you were going to sing a sea shanty, dude." Then everyone burst into murmurs of agreement. Uma smirked privately, recognizing the song; it always played at the beginning one of Ursula's favorite soap operas. It was the song that always signaled to them that they had a solid hour (minimum) free before Ursula gave a crap where Uma was. When Harry sat down after delivering his monologue (with the melodrama of someone used to performing on a ship and the suggestiveness at someone impossibly adept at turning everything into an innuendo; Fairy Godmother had her mouth hanging open as if she was trying to think of a way to reprimand him), she was still smirking; he grinned in response.
Jane shuffled onto the stage, tossed her hair, and inhaled. Glanced at her mother. Exhaled. Shook her head agitatedly, then sang a very in-character "I Know Things Now". The stiffness of her movements as she sang, "Mother said 'Straight ahead', not to delay or be misled..." was utterly perfect, as was the way her tone went wistful on "But he seemed so nice...". Everyone assumed it was Jay dimming the lights when she sang "Down a dark, slimy path where lie secrets that I never want to know," but Jay had not touched a thing. (Bibbidi boppity boo indeed, Jay thought appreciatively.) Audrey, who had seen enough of Jane's past auditions to know what a victory it was that she hadn't kept her eyes trained on her shoes the whole time, clapped the loudest. And if she was a bit too fast on the monologue, well that could be worked on. The point was, she was really growing into her stage presence.
Mal sang a tongue-in-cheek cover of "I Put a Spell On You", which Evie thought was a little on the nose and Chad thought seemed horribly smug, all things considered, but no one could say that she sang it poorly. Quite the opposite; she was, for lack of a better word, enchanting. Her voice was strong in the lows and the highs, and she went full-on fae with the song, to the point that a few of the audience members could've sworn they could smell pine trees and damp earth, could feel themselves being pulled towards something. At a point, Ben found himself unable to breathe, and Evie looked glassy-eyed. Mal's delivery wasn't terribly imaginative, but it almost didn't have to be; it was good. Then she gave her monologue, starting in an unsettling monotone and building to something like a commanding roar (although the latter came out somewhat petulant-sounding, to some of them).
Uma was the very last, and she, like Mal, had little interest in the "exercise in vulnerability" concept. She also, like most of the Isle kids, didn't know many musicals yet. Still, one song that she had found in her preparation for this audition-that-she-wouldn't-admit-she-cared-about stood out as personally resonant without requiring her to get all mushy-poignant in front of all these people. So she sang "Santa Fe" from Newsies. Fairy Godmother let out a little gasp before she was even done with the first verse, either because she said the d-word or because she did it while violently throwing a prop across the stage. It was a rageful song. When it was soft, she was seething beautifully, and she even allowed some despair to slip in (as long as she wasn't pulling an Evie); when it was loud, she was some sort of avenging siren, and Dizzy whispered "Whoa", and Harry stared transfixed, and Mal and Jane both winced and subtly covered their ears. A few people sank in their seats as she sang, "Why should you spend your whole life living trapped where there ain't no future even at seventeen?!" (And did she spit out the word "seventeen" to make Ben's song suddenly seem ironic?) More people sank down as she sang, "I need space! And fresh air! Let 'em laugh in my face; I don't care!" Fairy Godmother was curled in on herself; Miss La Bouff was delighted and made a mental note to consider cross-casting Enjolras if they ever did Les Miserables. By all rights, Uma should have been hoarse for her monologue, but she was not.
"Alright! Woohoo!" Miss La Bouff clapped as she stood up from her chair. "Alright! Everyone, give yourselves a round of applause!"
They applauded. Harry hopped up to help Uma down from the stage, beating Gil there by half a second. The rest of them went to hover around their director in a loose ring.
"Roles will be posted tomorrow on the auditorium door."
"Have you chosen them yet?" Evie asked, in that tone that everyone from the Isle recognized as one she used to used to sweet-talk people into compromising situations. (Except the "compromising situation" here was just telling them their roles slightly early.)
"That's for me to know," Miss La Bouff said.
"I'm going to die of anticipation," Audrey said, bouncing giddily on her toes and grabbing the nearest person, Jane, around the shoulders.
"If Chad isn't Little Red Riding Hood, I'm gonna riot," Uma said.
"Oh, sure. And I'll betcha you're gonna be both the Evil Stepsisters," Chad retorted.
"Hey, my mom's an evil stepsister," Dizzy said mildly. "And she'll be really, really pissed if she finds out that the musical got her name wrong."
"Dizzy, language," Fairy Godmother chastened.
Dizzy's face scrunched up in confusion. "Which part was bad language?"
"I'm gonna climb stuff now," Gil announced.
Uma shrugged, which he took as permission; he ran off before either of the adults could register what he'd said. The next thing they heard was Carlos, backstage, shouting, "No-no-no-no, Gil, those ropes are for the curtains!" and then the sound of something falling.
Miss La Bouff looked concerned, but Uma just held up her hand for calm and nodded for Harry to go deal with it, which he did.
Fairy Godmother deemed this an appropriate time to excuse herself, saying good evening to all of them before departing.
"Well, I think the most important thing is that we all had fun," Ben said, in his most diplomatic voice. "This is going to be-"
"Babe." Mal shook her head. "You really don't have to do your king thing. It's a school play."
"Right. That's fair." Ben smiled a bit sappily. (Uma and Audrey exchanged a look.) "Um...anyone want to catch the last fifteen minutes of dinner?"
"Now you're talking!" exclaimed Jay, who seemed to have materialized right behind Chad, causing him to squeak, startled.
"We'll catch up in about five minutes," Mal said, hooking elbows with Evie.
"Seven minutes," Evie amended.
"Well, I'll save your seats," Ben said knowingly.
"Also, I propose we binge watch some musicals in my room," Audrey said importantly. "To get some of you caught up on musical theatre."
"That sounds like a great idea," Miss La Bouff answered for them. "Group bonding makes for a great cast."
"I can pop some popcorn," Jane suggested.
"I can harvest some herbs and spices," Mal drawled, using the established euphemism for magic weed.
"I can pretend I don't know what that means and leave with plausible deniability!" Miss La Bouff pumped her fist and left the auditorium right before another loud noise could be heard from backstage.
"Gil!" Uma barked. "Harry!"
Both of them speed-walked from the wings, Harry tossing out a "Blame Carlos."