Authors: Rowan Coleman
We hardly know where to put ourselves in the
office this week, so excited are we by all the news and gossip that’s been landing on our desks.
What could be more thrilling than the dramatic conclusion to
character Marcus Ridley’s rollercoaster of a storyline? Actor
must surely be hoping to cash in this award season after a spectacular climax involving an explosion, a train crash and a priceless Ming vase. We don’t give away secrets here in the
column, so you’ll just have to watch the show to see what happens – but it’s pretty incredible. Is Danny leaving the show for good, we hear you cry? Not according to his people, who assure us the talented youngster is just taking a break to concentrate on his schoolwork and some other projects…
After Danny’s hit single, is it possible that one of those projects could be the exciting one-off world premiere performance of a new musical by rock legend Mick
Mick has been a global household name almost since
rock and roll was invented, and we all know and love classic tracks like
Rock Me This Christmas
Now Mick is putting together a new musical for young people to perform in, in schools and colleges across the land.
Spotlight! The Musical.
revolves around a hopeful young actress at a tough stage school and features some of the greatest hit songs of his career. Excited? We know we are – but wait there’s more…
The first ever performance of the musical will take place on primetime television in front of millions of viewers. And that’s not all! Televised open auditions for the lead roles and a special schools’ choir competition start around the country next week. If you are under sixteen and a star in the making, or you know anyone who is, then you can find out more about the auditions on
One fledgling star who’s taking UK TV by storm is the lead in the hit US imported show
is rumoured to be visiting these isles again in the next few weeks to investigate the possibility of making a film about the young Robin Hood, along with Hollywood golden girl
We’ll keep you posted on any more details that come to us at
because we know that’s one movie we want to target!
I’m normal now. Ruby Parker, girl – that’s me. Not an audition in sight, not a line to learn or an interview to do, not a single mention in
for weeks. I haven’t even had any fan mail for over a month. I used to be Ruby Parker, soap star and then for a while I was Ruby Parker, film star. For the briefest moment I was Ruby Parker, Hollywood star – but now I’m none of those things. ’m just Ruby Parker, who goes to an ordinary school and hangs out with ordinary kids.
It did take a bit of getting used to.
When I got back from Hollywood I think I was in shock. I don’t really know what being in shock is, but if it means feeling numb from the inside out, exhausted and frightened all at once, then I was in it. My life had changed completely in the few weeks I was in America and I wasn’t really prepared for how it was going to make me feel. But I decided to leave Sylvia Lighthouse’s Academy for the Performing Arts and give up acting for good, and I meant it. It took a while to persuade mum and
dad to support me, and Nydia and Anne-Marie still can’t believe that I decided to come to a new school and leave them behind, but I did it. I gave up my dream because being in Hollywood taught me two things.
First of all it taught me that having a dream isn’t enough to make it come true. Wanting fame and fortune so badly that you feel twisted up inside doesn’t mean you deserve to get it, because you only deserve your dream if you’ve got the talent to make it happen. And secondly it told me about as clearly as possible that I do not have any talent. At least, not nearly enough to deserve my dream.
And that’s why I started at Highgate Comprehensive School three weeks ago, a school that doesn’t even have a drama society, let alone drama lessons. The nearest thing they have to anything theatrical is a choir and I hear even that is terrible. It’s a school where I can feel safe, which is funny really because on my very first day I discovered that someone here is really quite keen to beat me up.
It happened in the first minute of the first hour of my first day. I made mum drop me off round the corner, took a breath and marched the last few metres through the school gate on my own. I thought I was prepared.
I was prepared for the other kids to be a bit curious,
to ask me questions about being on the telly and in a movie with famous actors like Imogene Grant or Sean Rivers. I was prepared for the fact that some kids would think I was posh and stuck up because I used to go to Sylvia Lighthouse’s Academy. But I wasn’t prepared for the threats of violence. Yes, that did throw me a bit.
“Are you Ruby Parker?” asked a tall girl, who appeared to be waiting for me.
This is nice,
A welcoming committee.
“I am,” I said with a smile, sticking out my hand. “Pleased to meet you!”
“I hate you,” the girl said. Well, more like growled.
I blinked at her. She had a sort of solid-looking body that would probably hurt you if you ran into it. As I was planning to run in the opposite direction, I hoped that wouldn’t be a problem.
“Really?” I asked her, with a grimace. “Was it the film? I know, I was terrible wasn’t I? That’s why I’ve given up acting, I just want to be normal now, like…”
The girl’s face didn’t move. “I just hate you,” she said, poking me in the shoulder with the tip of one long finger. “And I’m going to get you.” Then she turned on her heel, and stormed off.
I stood there staring after her, suddenly not sure that I could get my feet to go into Highgate Comprehensive School after all and wondering about the possibilities of home-schooling, when I felt a tap on my shoulder.
“That’s just Adele.” I jumped at the sound of a new voice and a saw another girl standing next to me. “You’re Ruby Parker. I’ve seen you on the telly,” she said. I couldn’t tell if she was friendly or not. “I’m Dakshima, I’m in your class. Adele tries to pick on everyone, but if you show her you’re not scared you’ll be fine. She doesn’t mean it really. It’s just her thing, being scary.”
I stood there stock still as Dakshima began to walk off again. After a few steps she paused and glanced back over her shoulder at me. She heaved a sigh and asked, “Do you want to come in with me?”
“If you don’t mind,” I said, sounding more than a bit pathetic.
“Come on then,” Dakshima said, turning and marching off ahead of me. “I haven’t got all day.”
I followed Dakshima, telling myself that I was doing the right thing, but I still felt sick with nerves and worried about making new friends. After all, I thought I’d made friends with Adrienne Charles at Beaumont High, my school in Hollywood, but she turned out to be my worst
enemy and made my life a misery while I was there.
Dakshima doesn’t seem to mind me hanging out with her though. I have lunch with her and her friends, Talitha and Hannah, almost every day, and last week she even called me Rubes. It took a while for people to forget that I am Ruby Parker off the telly, but now I’m old news, like last month’s copy of
and the more they forget who I used to be, the easier it is to fit in. Anyway, if you take away the whole fame thing then I really am a very average girl.
The teachers here are very different from the ones at the Academy, but they are mostly OK. I even like the schoolwork. Honestly I do, because when I’m immersed in biology or maths or something that would usually make me tear my hair out with boredom, then I’m not thinking about the past. I’m not thinking about Danny Harvey chucking me for new girl Melody. I’m not thinking about the horrible reviews I got in Hollywood, detailing just how bad an actor I am. And most importantly, I’m not thinking about my dream, or the fact that at almost fourteen-years-old, mine is already so over.
Lunchtime tomorrow in the main hall. Enthusiasm more important than talent. Find out that singing
CAN be fun!
Be there or Be square.
Mr G. Petrelli, Music Teacher.
NB: ATTENDANCE IS COMPULSORY
BY ORDER OF THE HEAD.
“So you haven’t heard from Hunter once?” Anne-Marie asked me as I screwed up the handout that was in my school bag and dropped it into the paper bin. (I have two bins now, one for paper and one for rubbish I can’t recycle. Me and mum are saving the environment; it’s our new thing we do together since I ran away from Hollywood and nearly scared her to death.)
I shook my head, “Nope,” I said. “Not even a text.”
“But after you got back from Hollywood he came all the way to London just to kiss you at the Valentine’s disco!” Nydia exclaimed. “I thought he really liked you.”
“He didn’t come all this way
to kiss me,” I said, feeling a little blush as I remembered the moment. “He came over to do publicity for
and he might not have even come to the dance at all if you two hadn’t got in touch with him. The whole kissing me thing was sort of an accident. It’s not as if it we were meant to be or anything.”
To be honest, I was more sad about not hearing from
Hunter again after the Valentine disco than I let on. OK, I told him I didn’t want to be his girlfriend, but I had thought he might not take it quite so literally. We had become good friends while I was at Beaumont High and we’d been through a lot together in Hollywood. But I hadn’t even had an e-mail from him, even though I’d sent him one when I found out that
The Lost Treasure of King Arthur
was the biggest grossing foreign language film in Japanese history.
“It’s just as well anyway,” I said casually. “Going out with yet another international teen megastar would not have fitted into my new life at all. I have a lot of homework these days.”
“About that,” Anne-Marie said, opening my wardrobe and going through my things with her usual wrinkled nose. “Are you still sure about leaving the Academy? Hasn’t three weeks with the public been enough to convince you to come back?”
I shook my head and laughed. Anne-Marie called everyone who wasn’t an actor/singer/model “the public”. She couldn’t understand how anybody would be happy just being an anonymous person just living an ordinary life.
“I like my school,” I told her. “It turns out I’m quite good at biology and I had a careers talk last week. I think I’m going to be a vet.”
“A vet!” Nydia shrieked. “I’m sorry, Ruby, I just can’t see it. You faint at the sight of blood.”
“Being a vet is not all blood,” I said, annoyed that I hadn’t spotted the rather obvious flaw in my plan.
“No, there’s vomit and pus too, I believe,” Anne-Marie said, laughing. “Ruby Parker, vet. Yeah, right.”
“This is so wrong,” Nydia said quite crossly. “You are meant to act!”
Of my two best friends, Nydia was the one who understood least why I had left school. And I knew why. We started at the academy together when we were little girls and had been together almost every day since. We were like twins, except we’re not. We fall out like friends do and fight sometimes, but in the end we have always been there for each other. When my mum and dad split up it was Nydia who helped take my mind off it. And when she fainted and hurt herself because of a stupid diet she was on, it was me who helped her get back to normal and feel better about herself again. When I left, she thought I was leaving her too and, worse, that I was just giving up. An Academy pupil never gives up. It’s actually in the rules.
“It’s not wrong because I’m happy, Nyds,” I told her. “Nothing to worry about, no auditions or interviews. It’s great, just like Sean says.”
“Except Sean hasn’t given up forever ever; he’s taking a break while he learns his craft,” Anne-Marie reminded me as she held one of my tops up against her. I nodded, even though I wasn’t sure that was quite Sean’s view of things. Once Hollywood’s highest earning child star, Sean had given it all up at the age of fifteen to come and live in England with his long lost mum, go to school at the Academy and be Anne-Marie’s boyfriend. He loved acting and singing, but he hated celebrity, especially as his fame and money-mad father had worked him so hard that his life had been miserable. Just before I started at Highgate Comp, he told me he understood exactly why I was doing this.
“I think it’s pretty radical,” he’d said. “Giving up acting would be like giving up breathing for me, but it if makes you feel better then it’s got to be right.”
“Can you tell Anne-Marie that?” I’d laughed. “She thinks I’m crazy!”
crazy.” Sean grinned. “So it probably won’t make any difference.”
I was fairly sure that Sean thought he’d give up fame forever, but Anne-Marie didn’t really get that yet.
“The thing is, you’ve got proper talent,” Anne-Marie said, exasperated. “You deserve all the fame and the fortune because you’ve worked for it. Not like Jade
Caruso – what’s she ever done, and she gets her very own musical on TV?”
you on about?” I asked. One thing I definitely didn’t miss about the Academy was Jade, her catty sneer and her permanently arched eyebrows, always on red alert to make a mean remark.
“Haven’t you heard?” Nydia exclaimed. “Jade’s dad, Mick Caruso, has written a musical. At least, it’s based around all of his hit songs from the last million years or something. He’s calling it
and it’s set – wait for it – in a stage school.”
“He’s got together with this writer bloke and they made the songs into a story,” Anne-Marie added. “I think it’s supposed to be put on in schools and things all over the country, but to launch it he’s doing this one-off live TV performance on the BBC for charity.”
“Oh,” I said, feeling a bit confused. “And?”
Almost all the actors in it are to be kids aged between twelve and sixteen. And guess who’s auditioning for the lead role?”
“Um…” For one horrible moment I had visions of my Hollywood nemesis Adrienne Charles coming all this way across the Atlantic just to harass me.
“Jade Caruso, you idiot,” Anne Marie told me, flinging her arms in the air. “Her daddy couldn’t buy her any
talent so he gave her a TV musical instead!”
“Jade can’t be the lead in a musical,” I said. “She’s an even worse singer than me!”
“I know,” Anne-Marie exclaimed. “And that’s saying something.”
“Well, to be fair to Jade,” Nydia interrupted, making Anne-Marie roll her eyes, “Mr Caruso is holding open auditions and Jade says she has to go through them like everyone else. She’s told her dad she doesn’t want any special treatment.”
“Really?” I asked, looking at Anne-Marie in disbelief.
“You know that you should be at those auditions, don’t you?” Anne-Marie asked me. “You and Sean should
When she said that I felt something go off in my tummy, like a spark – a little flicker of how I used to feel about acting. Chances like the one Jade was getting should be earned and not bought, and was she really going to earn it? Then it hit me – who was I to talk? I got offered a film part and a TV role all because at the age of six I was picked at random to be in a soap opera. I hadn’t earned any of my chances and as soon as my talent had truly been tested, it had failed miserably.
“But Sean’s not going, right?” I asked her.
Anne-Marie sighed and flopped down on my bed.
“No, he’s not. But that shouldn’t stop you!”
“The last thing I want is to ever go to another audition,” I assured her. “I’m with Sean on this one.”
“Anyway,” Nydia said, looking at me sideways, “even if Jade does get through the open auditions, the final decision is going to be made by a public vote on a live televised final. There’s no
they can rig that result.”
“Oh, you are so naïve,” Anne-Marie said, rolling her eyes again. “They do it all the time! She’s bound to get the lead.”
“Only if you two don’t go in for it,” I told both of my friends. “I hope you are.”
“Course we are,” Anne-Mare said. “Sylvia Lighthouse didn’t give us a choice, but we would have anyway. The whole school is, apart from Sean. You should see Danny – one rubbish hit record and he thinks he’s Justin Timberlake. He’s sure he’ll get a male lead and I wouldn’t be surprised if he does because Jade’s still got her eye on him even though he’s going with Smelody Melody…oh, sorry.”
“Don’t be. I don’t care,” I lied. Mum had told me I’d get over Danny before I knew it, but so far no luck. Not even a lovely kiss with the gorgeous Hunter Blake had worked. I kept my feelings to myself though, because the last thing I needed on top of all the other humiliation I
had suffered was to be the girl that Danny Harvey didn’t fancy any more.
“And there is no way we can get you to audition?” Nydia asked me. “What if we brought you cakes? Double chocolate cookies?”
I laughed and flopped back on to my bed. “No, I’m not going to audition,” I said firmly, feeling surprisingly happy about saying those words out loud. I ticked the reasons off on my fingers. “Number one, because I’ve given up show business, or hasn’t anyone noticed? Number two, because I can’t sing. And number three, can you imagine the look on Jade’s face if I turned up? Smug-a-rama!”
“She would be hideously smug, that’s true,” Anne-Marie conceded.
“We’d never hear the end of it,” Nydia added sighing. “But Ruby, just think – if you auditioned and went through to the live televised final and
got a lead role and
was brilliant and
all the critics loved you,
how smug would Jade be? Hey? Not very, that’s how.”
“Look, Nyds, thanks for still believing in me and all that – but this is it. This is me now, OK?”
“OK,” Nydia said, deflating. “If you say so.” Anne-Marie picked up the DVD she’d brought. “So
when are we going to watch this then?” She asked me, changing the subject.
Just then the doorbell sounded.
“That’ll be Dakshima,” I told her. “Put the DVD in while I go and get her. And be nice to her, she’s the nearest thing I’ve got to a friend at Highgate and it’s a big deal that she’s come over tonight. Don’t freak her out!”
“Seriously, is that Anne-Marie for real?” Dakshima asked me as I walked out to her dad’s car with her a couple of hours later. “Nydia is cool, but the other chick is just weird. She’s all plastic fantastic. She’s a stage school Barbie.”
I tried not to laugh as I glanced up at my bedroom window where Anne-Marie was no doubt being just as rude about Dakshima. The first meeting between my old and new friend hadn’t gone as well as I had hoped. Nydia was just Nydia, all lovely and funny. Dakshima made it clear she wasn’t impressed that Nydia had been on TV quite a lot, but soon the two of them were hitting it off just like two girls the same age with a lot in common should do. Anne-Marie was completely different. She was like the old Anne-Marie, before Nydia and I had made friends with her – a girl who always
seemed aloof, as if the rest of us weren’t good enough for her. She barely spoke to Dakshima and when she did it came out either rude or stuck up.
“The thing is,” I tried to explain to Dakshima, “she’s not really like that. I thought she was a total cow too for ages, and she thought
was one, but she’s just shy and when she meets people she doesn’t know she puts on a front. A lot of us actors…a lot of actors are really shy. I know it seems weird that they can jump about on stage in front of hundreds of people, but that’s because they are being someone else, when they have to be themselves it’s completely different. Once you’ve got to know her you’ll see. She’s a really great friend, plus she could take Adele any day of the week.”
Dakshima looked sceptical. “If you say so,” she said, opening the door of her dad’s car. “Cool DVD though. Do you really know that Hunter kid?”
For about one tenth of second I remembered Hunter kissing me. “Well, I’ve met him,” I said. “Not really the same thing as knowing him.”
“Well, tonight was a laugh. We should hang out more after school anyway,” Dakshima said.
“Great,” I said. “I’d like that.”
“So are you ready for the choir audition tomorrow?” Dakshima asked.
“What?” I exclaimed. “Oh, I’m not going to
“Yeah, you are. Didn’t you read the letter? The head’s making the whole school audition so we can get a choir together for some competition, I’m not sure what it’s for, but it should be a laugh. Everyone has to go and sing for Mr Petrelli tomorrow lunchtime. I want to get into the choir, but don’t worry if you don’t. All you have to do is sing real bad and then you won’t get picked.”
“Singing badly isn’t a problem,” I said heavily.
I really didn’t want to go to any kind of audition ever again, not even one I wouldn’t get picked for. Because even though I knew I didn’t want to be in the choir and that I wasn’t good enough to be in it, the thought of not being picked made me feel sick inside. And it was wanting never to feel like that again that made me leave stage school.
But it seemed my old life kept on finding me, even if it was only trying out for the school choir. I’d just have to be as bad as I could possibly be. And I am good at that. It’s one of my best things.