Miss Kitty Transcript

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In the fifth grade, my music teacher, Mrs. Rogers, told the class that we were going to be doing a musical. And she handed out sheet music for this musical called “The Wild West,” which made perfect sense because this was in Calgary, Alberta, and that's sort of like the Canadian Wild West, you know, we even have a rodeo. So, there were all these parts for the class and there were some solos. Now, for the boys it was like a bandit and a sheriff and for the girls there was a frontiers woman, a girl with strawberry blonde hair, and Miss Kitty. Every girl wanted to be Miss Kitty because Miss Kitty was the heartthrob. She was the beauty, she was like the starlet. And it was natural who that would go to, Tanya Gil, because she was the prettiest and the best singer in the class. But we were all there to audition.  

I was not a singer at all, I was in choir but they would always put me in the back so they wouldn't—You know—no one would hear me fumbling the harmonies. And I also wasn't the prettiest. I was no beauty. I wore my hair in long braids every day and wore dresses that my mother sewed me from patterns in the Burda. So, I knew that I was going to be in the chorus. But I came to auditions—we all did our little auditions—and then Mrs. Rogers went to read who got what part. She said, "For the role of the frontierswoman: Tanya Gil.” And there was a hush. She would be singing the big closing number though, called "Sit Right Down," about Indians and cowboys sitting down for dinner and everything being OK. Then she said, "The girl with the strawberry blond hair: Jackie Clark," which made sense because she had beautiful long red hair.  

And I thought, "Ah, this is it".  

And then she said, "Miss Kitty: Ophira Eisenberg".  

I was like "What?" And I thought like every other incredible thing that would ever happen in the future, in my life, it was a mistake. But it was too late! She had already called it and I was going to be Miss Kitty and I was beyond excited. I thought, “This is going to be my big chance to show everyone that I'm beautiful and I'm a star and I can really do this. And we started in rehearsal and Mrs. Rogers brought in costumes for everybody. She brought checkered shirts and some dresses and some bandanas. And then she brought out this yellow strapless gown that had netting underneath and a little sparkly shawl to go over it. And that was the costume for Miss Kitty. And it looked just like the souvenir doll on a stand that my parents had brought me back from Las Vegas. I was like, "Oohhh, I'm going to look just like that girl." The day before the performance, Mrs. Rogers took me aside and said—I thought she was going to say, "Tanya is going to play your part and you're going to be back in the chorus"—but she said, "Come a little early because we're going to do your hair and makeup. We're going to take that hair out of the braids."  

And I was like, "Oh, I'm like a little crocus about to bloom." 

It came the performance and she was mashing lipstick into my cheeks to make some blush and I was in my yellow dress, waiting. Now, the idea was, she told me, Miss Kitty was the owner of the saloon. So, I would be—she got a projector cart on wheels—and I was going to be sitting on it like that was the bar at the saloon and I'd be wheeled out by Steven Huckle, who was dressed as a bartender in a little vest in a bow-tie and he was given a glass with a cloth to polish. We are eleven years old. But I'm excited I'm going to—all the parents are in the auditorium waiting for us and I just can't wait to shine and even show my mother that I'm not a little girl. I'm this amazing movie star and... He wheels me out and starts polishing the glass and there is just silence. And the piano starts and I start singing the song which goes, "Oh, Mr. Dillon, if you willin', I'll be more than just a gal to you. Why don't you take a chance and let me be a loving gal to you."  

And then Steven goes, "Oh, Mr. Dillon..."  

And I'm expecting like this sort of like, "Ahhhh!" and everyone is just shocked, with big wide eyes. You know, because I'm sitting on a bar in a big yellow dress at 11 years old and this kid is polishing a glass. They cannot believe what they are seeing. And the song continues because the piano is playing so I go with the next line which is, "Oh, Mr. Dillon, you're a thrilling hunk of a man. And you make me feel so feminine and frail but I reckon to be near you, I would have to rob a bank - pum! - and - pum! - go to jail." And the crowd erupts into laughter. They think this is hilarious and this is not what I wanted! I'm like "No! I'm a beautiful! I'm a pageant winner, I'm a model I'm the starlight, I'm Miss Kitty!" And they are laughing and just thinking this is hilarious and then I get wheeled off stage. 

And I turn to Steven. I'm like, "What happened?"  

He was like, "I don't know, I thought it was pretty good." Because I didn't know what they were seeing, it was a parody. I didn't know at the time, I was eleven, there was a parody of “Gunsmoke,” popular television show, and Miss Kitty was like a prostitute! You know. And she was singing a song to Mr. Dillon who was the sheriff and she wanted him to make an honest woman out of her. And that's what they saw coming out of my eleven-year-old mouth.  

And I saw my mother afterwards and I was like, "I, I thought I was going to be beautiful." And I thought I was going to be at least a young Sally Field about to play the love interest in “Smokey and the Bandit.” I didn't realize I was going to be Jodie Foster in “Taxi Driver.” And I was like, "Mom, what do you think?"  

And she was—she's very droll—and she said, "You're quite a comedian."  And it kind of stuck. Thank you.