Main > Series > Chapters > Fame Book 1 > Chapter 8

There was a high turnout for the Festival auditions on the following Tuesday. The roll-call of potential singers was a long one, but only eight people had put themselves forward as serious contenders for the lead spot. Coco was drawn to adition second. Ont the list in the main hall, she saw that Troy Phillips had been drawn to sing seventh.

Bruno accompanied her, as before, and she stood on the bare stage in the main hall of the School of the Arts and gave it everything. When it was over, Shorofsky thanked her from the almost-empty auditorim; Coco shaded her eyes against the working lights in the hope that she might be able to get some idea of the music professor's reaction, but he was giving nothing away. Up at the back, a few students were waiting for their turn to come around. Troy Phillips was there, sitting a little way apart. He smiled at her, and half-waved.

Coco let herself smile back,and then she and Bruno withdrew to the wings to make way for the next soloist and her keyboard player. As soon as they were offstage, she said, 'Well? What'd you think?'

'I think you're a wonderful singer,' Bruno said diplomatically, and Coco could tell immediately that he was stalling.

'You think I'll get it?' she said.

'I can't tell you how glad I am that I don't have to make that decision.'

'I know, Bruno, but it's your song. What do you think?'

'I think you should ask Leroy.'

'Leroy? Why?'

'Because he's a better liar than I am.'

'You don't have to lie. It was bad?'

'No,' Bruno said, 'it wasn't bad. It was wonderful.'

'I don't understand you.' Coco was starting to get angry. 'What are you trying to say?'

They came down the backstage steps, and Bruno pushed open the fireproof door to the dressing-room corridor. 'What I'm saying is that you're a wonderful singer, but not every song is right for you. Yehudi Menuhin's a great violinist, but when he duets with Grapelli he sounds as stiff as a board. I try to write a cantata, and it sounds like a McDonald's commercial.'

'You think Troy's a better singer,' Coco said, getting right through to the heart of it.

'For this particular song, yes,' Bruno conceded. 'For another song, who knows?'

Coco sighed heavily, and didn't put up a fight. Bruno said, after a moment, 'You okay?'

'It hurts.'

'I know. But can you handle it?'

'I'll find a way,' Coco said.

Most days before a class, Benjamin Shorofsky could be found setting up the blackboard in the music room. It saved time during the lesson, and time was one of the scarcest commodities in the drum-tight School of the Arts schedule. Coco went along a little early, hoping he'd be alone. She'd told Bruno that she was going to need some help. The results of the auditions hadn't yet been posted.

She told Shorofsky what she'd done; how she'd gone down to Chase School and spoken to Troy, urged him to come and give it a shot on equal terms with the others.

'I want to be a performer more than anything,' she ended, confused at the way her feelings clashed and offered her no simple and clear solutions. 'Am I crazy to give someone else a chance?'

'You're not being crazy,' Shorofsky said, putting down the chalk and turning to face her. 'You're being a mensch.'

'A mensch? What's that?'

'A person. You're thinking about somebody else, instead of yourself. You know, when you came in here, I thought you were going to try to pump me for the results of the auditions.'

'I never even thought of it.'

'I know. Does that mean you're not interested?' Shorofsky's smile was a study in gentle irony.

'No,' Coco said, drawing imaginary circles on the desk with her finger, 'I'm interested. But I guess . . . I guess I already know what the result's going to be. Troy's got it.'

'Yes,' Shorofsky persisted 'but do you know why?'

'Because . . . ' Coco hesitated for a moment. Because he was the best. On that day, with that song he was the best.'

'Right. That's what an audition is all about. And that's why I was wrong to cancel the auditions and put Troy forward without giving the others a chance. I was making allowances for other considerations, and Troy deserved better than that. In fact . . . ' Shorofsky leaned towards her, lowering his voice to keep his words private as the first of his class members came in through the door. 'In fact, Coco, out of the two of us, you're the one who gave Troy a fair shake. you're growing up, cookie.'

It felt good; even through the disappointment, it felt good. Shorofsky turned back to the board to complete his copying, and Coco made her way down to her usual place as the room filled

She was remembering a remark of David Reardon's, something that he'd said to them in one of his first sessions when he'd come to the school of the Arts as a newly-qualified teacher with six years of good stage experience behind him. No matter what kind of an artist you're aspiring to become, first you have to be a human being. All of the technique and polish in the world is useless if there's nothing inside.

Well, Coco Hernandez, today you make it one step closer. Now it's time to do what Danny would advise.

Look inward. Analyse it. Learn to use it.

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