Almost Starring Skinnybones

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Authors: Barbara Park
on the stage will have the best chance,” he offered. “The best advice I can give you is to become familiar with the part. Then relax and just let it flow. Flow is very important.”
    This girl next to me took out a piece of paper and wrote down the word
. I’m serious. She even put an exclamation point next to it. When she saw me looking, she covered her paper like it was a test or something.
    I smiled smugly. “Don’t worry. I’m a professional. I already know how to flow.”
    “Goody goody for you,” she retorted.
    My smile got even bigger.
Goody goody for me
, I thought happily.
Goody goody for old Alex “The Greatest Scrooge of All Time” Frankovitch

    I had the best
audition of anybody. I’m not kidding. I flowed like you wouldn’t believe. I even added a line or two to make Scrooge seem more natural.
    You should have seen me. It was the scene where Scrooge first sees the ghost of his old partner, Jacob Marley, and Jacob tells him about the spirits that are going to come and haunt him during the night.
    Then Scrooge is supposed to say, “I choose not to see them, Jacob.”
    What a stupid thing to say! No one would be that calm! We’re talking about ghosts here!
    That’s why my audition was so much better than anyone else’s. When Jacob Marley told me about the spirits, I made Scrooge let out this giant, bloodcurdling scream.
    “Ghosts! Oh no! Not ghosts!” I shrieked. “Come on, Jake! I hate stuff like that!”
    It was great. More convincing than anything. That’s why I could hardly believe my ears when Mr. Tilton stood on stage on Friday and announced the parts:
    “People, may I have your attention please?” he began. “You all did an absolutely marvelous job, and I take great pleasure in announcing the cast of this year’s Christmas play: Ebenezer Scrooge will be played by …”
    I stood up.
    “Albert Ruppert.”
    My knees caved in and I fell over.
    Albert Ruppert? Was this a joke? That big show-off from my English class was actually going to be Scrooge? The kid who stands on his chair like a palace guard and announces the arrival of Mrs. Ballentine each day?
    On stage Mr. Tilton was proceeding. “Skylar Fox will be Bob Cratchit; Cynthia Huggins will portray the Ghost of Christmas Past; Alexander Frankovitch will play Tiny Tim; Tyrone Hayes will be …”
    Tiny Tim! Oh God, no! Not Tiny Tim! I
Tiny Tim. I’ve
hated him! Ever since the first time I saw
A Christmas Carol
on television. Talk about unnatural. There he was, all pale and sick and skinny, walking around on that little crutch of his,and instead of whining and complaining like any normal kid would do, Tiny Tim spent his days smiling and “God blessing” people. He made me want to spit up.
    Besides, he had no lines! A couple of quick prayers and a “thank you sir.” What kind of acting do you call that?
    I just couldn’t figure it out. Albert Ruppert’s audition had been the dumbest thing you ever saw! He was so nervous and twitchy, it made you squirmy just watching him.
    Also, when he read his lines, he tried to make his voice real deep so he’d sound more grown-up. It’s the way you make your voice sound when you’re crank-calling someone and you want to sound like a man. It never works though. No matter how old you think you sound, as soon as you say, “Hello, is your toilet running?” people slam the phone down right in your ear.
    After Mr. Tilton made the announcements, a lot of the cast started clapping for themselves and going crazy. It was like they had just won an Academy Award instead of a dumb part in a stupid school Christmas play. Albert Ruppert ran up on stage and started bowing. He wasn’t doing it to be funny either. That’s just how he acts. He’s always telling you how great he is.
    Annabelle Posey was the most obnoxious of all.Even though she hadn’t showed up for tryouts until Friday, she
got the part of Mrs. Cratchit. I don’t know how she did it, but

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