Part 3: Stories from the Good Ship Lollipop…The End…

Continued from Part 2…

Part 3:

I went back to see That Old Wench one last time, and I hoped we would be besties.  False.  I just hoped she wasn’t going to make me cry, but being as though I already had my “cry face” on (aka; The cry-face is the face you get when you are trying not to cry, but everyone else can totally tell you’re going to bust), I had a bad feeling this was not going to end well, and it didn’t.  The last thing That Old Wench told me right before I left to go to the biggest audition of my life was…get ready for it, get ready…ready?

She said, “You’re not going to get this part.”  She just plainly looked at me like I was a piece of dust on her coffee table, and the words seemed to effortlessly spill from her mouth. That is literally all she said.  I sat there on that same dusty couch I had sat on for the last two days, and I was stunned.  Never one to be at a loss for words, I was completely dumbfounded, but I wasn’t sunk yet. I wasn’t about to cry (even though I had my cry face on), because That Old Wench was not going to get one tear out of me.  That Old Wench can go blow.

I arrived at the audition nervous, but more excited than anything else.  I put the words of That Old Wench in the back of my mind, and I was feeling good.  As I walked through the doors I was not ready for what I was about to see.  I saw at least ten little heads all ‘a chop complete with bangs and bobs and in the Mary Lennox hairdo.  Oh my God, I think I just hallucinated…Was this really happening?? Why, yes, yes it was.  It was my worst nightmare realized, and coming to me in the form of bangs and bobs.  Why me?  Why meeeeeee??? (<–FYI; To this day, I still can’t stand to see this haircut.  When Katie Holmes got the bangs and bob, I had to look away for at least six months.) I don’t know if it was That Old Wench’s words coming back with full force, or if it was that I was psyched out by all the little bangs and bobs invading my personal space, but I began to feel really discomBOBulated <–No pun intended.

I waited outside the audition room for my turn, and I suddenly loathed my dumb beret(<–FYI; To this day I can’t listen to Raspberry Beret by Prince.) Just when the bangs and bobs were about to undoubtedly drive me straight over the edge…

My name was called by a girl with a clipboard, “Sarah Barkoff?”

“Yes, here,” I said and got up and went into the audition room.

I was nervous walking into the room, that had at least eight people sitting at a long table staring at me wondering if I was their Mary Lennox, but escaping the bangs and bob room from hell, seemed to do wonders for my nerve.  I was asked to do my first song, and then go straight into the dialogue, which I did, and I felt like everything was falling into place. It wasn’t until the beginning of my second song, that the audition began to take a turn for the worse.

The woman in the first seat all the way to the left said, “Okay Sarah, now can you do the same line, but do it a little more perturbed?”  She said this as she talked to me like a baby.  Awkward.

Okay lady, WHAT THE EF does ‘perturbed’ mean??!! I’m 11, you crazy broad(<–inner thoughts and feelings…)  I started to panic, and think about That Old Wench’s last words to me.  And for some odd reason, I don’t know why, but all I could think of was the little blond girl from the picture in That Old Wench’s apartment, with her cool jean jacket on.  I thought to myself, “Laura Bell Bundy wouldn’t blow this audition…Laura would never show up in a dumb beret, she would have gotten the bangs and bob…Laura. Would. Get. The. Part.”  Except little did I know, Laura wouldn’t have gotten the part, because the part wasn’t for a blondie, it was for a brunette-ie.  Oh, little did my 11-year-old self know…

“Okay, sure,” I said as I proceeded to do the same line the exact same way, because I had no clue what the ef ‘perturbed’ meant.

“Okay Sarah, thank you very much.  We will let your agent know when we have made a decision,” said the woman in the first seat all the way to the left.

For those of you who don’t know, those exact words, nothing more, nothing less, is basically the kiss of death in showbiz.  I knew it was over the second I heard the dreadful, “Okay Sarah, thank you very much.”  Usually if there is a chance of sealing the deal, there will be more dialogue between the auditionee and auditioner, and inquiring about the logistics of accepting the role, but really at 11-years-old, I figured as much because they never asked to speak with my mom or dad afterward.  So, I knew.

And I was right.  I didn’t get the part.  The casting people told my agent that they actually really did like me, but that I looked too mature for the role, and they wanted a little girl who had a younger look, so all in all, I just wasn’t right for the part. (P.S. Thank God I didn’t cut my hair!  Thanks Ma!)  When all was said and done, I went home to Michigan, and did not go back to New York City for any auditions for the next 8 years.  However, my dream of playing  Mary Lennox in The Secret Garden did come true about a year later.  I played the part in a professional production of the show in Ann Arbor, MI, and the best part was, I still got to be a normal kid and stay put in Michigan with my family.  I still think leaving New York when I did was the best decision I ever made, and I am happy that I was able to have all the normal experiences a kid should have, and that I had a chance to just blend in with my peers for while.

The End…Just kidding!  Are you crazy?  I’m not about to not give you a follow-up on everyone involved in this story!

First things first…

That Old Wench:  Well, apparently That Old Wench is alive and kicking (I googled her), and likely still making other little girls cry.  I would tell you her name, and show you a picture of her, but then I would have to kill you.  Just kidding, but I don’t want to get sued for slander!  Hint:  I will tell you that she recently wrote a way famous screenplay, with a way famous lead actress in the lead role, based on a popular book and blog. 

Next we have…Laura Bell Bundy…

Remember this classy little broad?

Laura Bell Bundy is now a way famous country singer, so apparently I had an eye for talent. P.S. Love me some big hair, too, Laura.

And then there's me. I'm not famous or anything, but I'm happy. Hooray.

Photos courtesy of and





Part 2: Stories from the Good Ship Lollipop

Continued from Part 1…

Part 2:

I could tell she was now up for a challenge, because the corners of her devious smile began to droop, her eyes narrowed, and I watched the expression on her face go from the look of crafty self-amusement, to full-blown committed hostility toward me. She suddenly really started to resemble Humpty Dumpty’s egg head to me, and it made me chuckle to myself.  When I got another glimpse of her staring at me, almost as if she could read my mind, I suddenly felt really scared of her.  I looked down at my pea green tights for words to break the ice to That Old Wench…Anything…Anything???  Well, my tights weren’t offering up any answers…

“Well, I mean, I have been told I have that special sparkle before,” I said matter of factly, and now no longer using the English accent that I had been instructed to use.  (Note: The term “sparkle” would go on to become a common theme all throughout my life to describe this sort of vague, unattainable attribute that was supposedly the key to all success in showbiz.  Almost like what the Emerald City is to Dorothy…<–but more on that much later.)  So back to the story…

Her eyes tapered even more now, and seemed to be singling me out as if to look at me, and only me, under a magnifying glass.  She no longer seemed as sour, but now like she was considering something thoughtfully. She took a few more seconds to focus and said, “There are two kinds of kids.  Kids with the sparkle, and kids without the sparkle.  Personally, I don’t see the sparkle in your eyes.  We’ll rehearse your lines, and at the end I will tell you if you’ve changed my mind.” Well, isn’t that special?  That Old Wench was going to be so kind as to let me prove myself?  Whatever in the world did I do to deserve such an honor?

I don’t know why, but I have always been the type of person to fall for that kind of challenge. Maybe it’s because I have also always been a believer in the possibility that if you just try hard enough, you can have the power to change someones mind, whatever that might be. But I will say, I have learned throughout my life with similar mind games like these that Number 1:  The person on the other end who sets up a test like that, is someone who is manipulative, likes to be in control, and enjoys the power position. <–e.g., someone like That Old Wench…Duh! Number 2:  You very very very rarely can change someone mind once they’ve made it up anyway.  So, all in all, I see now that this was a lost cause before it even began, but one that I could have never seen coming in my 11-year-old mentality.

One part of me thinks that That Old Wench was just trying to bring me out of my shell, but another part of me thinks that instead of getting into a verbal brawl with an 11-year-old, she opted to toy with my confidence instead.  What a dame.

We rehearsed lines for hours that day.  My time with That Old Wench was supposed to be over after one session, but she was knew that my big audition was the next day, and she wasn’t done screwing up my universe just yet. When my parents came back to pick me up, she made a proposal to bring me back one more time the next day, right before my audition to brush up on my English dialect so that it would be fresh for the audition.  My parents agreed, and That Old Wench got her way.

The morning of my big audition was a very tense one.  I was very nervous, and the words of That Old Wench were dancing around in my head ruining my confidence.  I dreaded going to see her again, but I was still hopeful I could change her mind about me. <–Aw, what I lil’ sweetheart.

For my big audition I wore a white turtle neck shirt, a flower print jumper (as my mom would call it), white tights, and black maryjane shoes.  I wore my hair half up and half down with my lucky beret…Naturally.  I don’t know who started this, but I am guessing it was established  with Daisy Eagen who originated the role of Mary Lennox in The Secret Garden on Broadway, but it was custom for whoever played the part, to cut their hair in a chin length bob with bangs.  So sassy.

Daisy Eagan the originator of the Mary Lennox bob?

Or maybe the hair was inspired by the book cover of the children’s novel?

Maybe she inspired it?

Either way, I soooo wanted that bob with bangs.  I felt like I would be the key to my success if only I had the Mary Lennox bob…but I am sure my mom thought it wasn’t necessary to cut my hair off until I was cast in the role. Fail.

I went to see That Old Wench one last time, and I hoped we would be besties.  False.  I just hoped she wasn’t going to make me cry, but being as though I already had my “cry face” on…

To be continued…

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