A tale from the audition room: Story 1

Audition season is among us. That being said, let the games begin.

Auditions, submissions, video requests, lessons, headshot prints, and dusting off the ol’ music book has arrived. It’s here. Tis time. And with this whirlwind of a few months comes some…interesting tales worthy of being documented. There are some old stories that I may recount on this blog, for short stories of odd happenings in my life will probably become a theme on here which will include everything from theater to crazy subway encounters to wild travel stories to a bit of advice here and there. But this…this is fresh off the press…and it’s one for the books.

Every time January comes around I get this weird feeling in my stomach. I’m leaving behind a whole year and, contrary to how insanely quick the years are starting to hurry along, a lot happens in a year. Great successes, even greater failures, friendships and relationships form, family’s grow, and you grow a whole lot as a person within a year, whether you believe it or not. I really sit at the top of January as though it were a massive mountain; on the side of the mountain behind me are all of the things mentioned before, the successes and failures, the good and the challenging, the things that have brought me to where I am now. Letting go of all that no longer serves me and holding close to my heart the happiness and gratitude of being able to say that I have another year ahead of me with endless possibilities. This side of the mountain is evergreen with the sun streaming through the sparse clouds, the grass fresh and the flowers tall and strong. It feels warm and welcoming. And then I turn to see the other side of the mountain aka apocalypse now. That’s a very exaggerated comparison, but you get it. It’s scary and cold and empty. You call into the abyss and there is no answer. Sure, there may be a few things you have planned, but if you are anything like me and/or also are an actor, then you may know this feeling. Acting has no real sense of stability until you really get your career going. I mean it can for a while, but then it goes away and you scramble to make the next gig happen while trying to find a flexible job that will put up with your constant wavy schedule of auditions and callbacks. But if I am being honest here, I love it. And that’s why January is terrifying yet exciting because I know that that cold, scary, desolate side of the mountain can look even better than the beautiful fields behind me.

All of that being said, I get to work as soon as January rolls around. I submit for everything. Soprano ingenue? You got it. Shakespeare? Done and done. New contemporary play? I’m your gal. Triple threat? My heart pounds. My palms get sweaty, much like Eminem’s. My jaw clenches. Triple threat means…I have to dance? Also? What? No. So…dancing is not my strong point. I can’t even say it’s a point for me. I would actually say I would rather give an old man a sponge bath rather than go to a dance call. The thing is, my skills in singing and acting are strong. I have been working on them for over 13 years and so far, so good. I have been very lucky to have played leading characters often who just don’t have to dance. I thought maybe if they really wanted someone and it wasn’t for a character who had to dance,  then maybe I could somehow skate around dance calls and get in the room just to act and sing. Oh…I was wrong. I have a couple of tales with dance calls, but my most recent run in goes a little something like this:

A couple of months ago I was on tour for a musical that was traveling up and down the east coast. This was an especially interesting time to be traveling in America because of the insanity that was this election, but that’s a story for another time. Anyway, one day on tour everyone was sitting in the van and somehow the Broadway show The Great Comet Of 1812 came up. All that I knew about said musical was that Josh Groban was the lead in it, but other than that I hadn’t had a chance to listen to the music yet.  The conversation somehow got around to everyone in the car stating that that would be a good show for me to research since they believed that it would be a good fit for me. It kind of went in and out of my mind since we were still touring and the opportunity to audition had never presented itself…until January. The month of all months. The fresh start.

I was walking off of the subway when my friend from tour messaged me with details for submitting for the show. She had said that it was meant to be and that I needed to submit “Now, now, now!”. I quickly heeded her advice and sent over my info, not really truly expecting to hear back anytime soon. A few days passed by and suddenly I received an email from Great Comet asking me to come in for an Actor/ Instrumentalist audition. I immediately realized I needed to rent or borrow a viola, and that if that was taken care of maybe I could actually have a tiny shot at making it into the show. I studied the show and listened to the music, getting myself into the right mindset for what to wear and what song to play on viola. I saw that on the audition it had stated that there would be a movement call. I thought nothing of it, thinking movement would be fine and that all would be well. Ha…ha ha. WOOOOO.

I arrived to the audition to see that there were about 14 other people auditioning as well. They all had their respective instruments and were stretching and doing their pre-audition rituals. I looked at my viola like a good friend would look at you for support, and did my own little pre-audition ritual which usually just consists of me finding my own space and trying not to gag from being nervous. Suddenly, the monitor came into the room and informed us that we would all be doing movement first in one of the rooms over. Just movement, I thought, nothing too crazy. As I looked around the room, I felt comfortable and ready for what was to come. There was a huge casting director in the room who introduced himself and told us what he was looking for. It seemed understandable enough ad we were all ready to go to work. The movement choreographer then stepped in front of the room and this is where it starts to get blurry for me. All I remember is her saying that she could see there were a lot of musicians in the room and that dance may not be our strong point, but golly gee we should put that in the back of our minds and focus on the dance we were about to learn. The dance. Dance.She has said the D word. I probably looked like a lost child in Macy’s when she uttered those words. I immediately got 4 temperatures hotter. Everything seemed to go into slow motion. I imagined the casting director laughing maniacally as I was dancing horribly with strings attached to me like I was some demented puppet. Before my imagination could rum any wilder, the dancing began. The beginning seemed easy enough…it was kind of like cotton eye Joe. Cool, it thought, not so bad. And then the speed went up to be about 4 times faster and it was like math to me. I was trying so hard to follow and figure out the steps that I would forget the previous once. I would trip over my feet and swirl around at the wrong part. I would look around and it seemed like almost everyone else was picking this up but a few other hopeless stragglers. Then, much quicker than anticipated, we were thrown into smaller groups to perform for the casting director. He called my name and said it wrong like 3 times, so he knew who I was for sure after asking how to properly pronounce it. Kill me, I thought. Just light me on fire. We did it once through and I honestly felt like I was on drugs. I couldn’t seem to remember much, my heart was racing, my arms were stiff while my legs were like noodles. It was not a pretty sight. Once everyone finished, they had to evaluate and see who’s headshots they would be keeping to see more dancing from. Isn’t this an Actor/Instrumentalist call? I wondered. Not to my surprise, I was not kept for more dance. I took the viola that I paid to rent, grabbed my notorious black backpack, and went on my merry way feeling a bit deflated.

It’s easy to get discouraged. I left and was like “Welp. Musical theater calls for dancing…I have been lucky for a long time but now having to dance is catching up with me. This may be the end of the line for musical theater and I.”. But the truth is, I have to remember that I have actually booked a leading role based off of my horrible dance call for a summer theater company. They found it funny and endearing and thought that it fit the character. After some pushing away the negative thoughts with help from my boyfriend and my best friend, I kept this and mind and just thought that I guess it’s time to take some…dance…classes. The tears are real, everyone. But the moral of this particular story is…there will be plenty of failure. But from failure, there is also massive success because you are growing. So keep on going and keep on growing!

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