Tuesday, July 6, 2010
The First Callback
Friday, June 25
Today is my reprisal attempt at being seen for Jekyll and Hyde. The open chorus call is at 2pm, but I'm there early. Already there are a ton of girls there, and an unofficial list has been started. I'm #90. Of all the types of auditions you can go to in New York, this is one of the hairiest. One girl is bent on having the list honored, even if the casting director won't make it official. She and two other girls put on their drill sergeant boots and literally get about the first forty people to form a line. There is grunting and eye-rolling. Then there's the hauling of backpacks and curling irons and purses and music…oh my. I plop myself down on the wood floors, open up my makeup bag, and avoid the drama. Then I look up from my green eye shadow, and there's a girl looking at me. "Hi! Are you non-Equity? Because I think I've seen you recently." It was the Oklahoma audition. I remember seeing her and thinking she was really pretty. You know those girls. Not fake and over-worked. Just naturally really pretty. Anyway, her name is Elizabeth, and we hit it off right away. She went to Saint Olaf—she was so surprised to know that I'd heard of the school and knew how great the music program is—and graduated with a degree in voice, too. She moved to the city in December and has been going to auditions since February. Some callbacks, no real work. I tell her my story, and soon we're comparing music and giving each other feedback. Then the room starts to stir.
Somehow Sergeant #1 has gotten her hands on the cards (actual 6x6 sheets of cardstock). She begins calling people off the list one-by-one and passing out cards. If a girl isn't in the room, she gets skipped. I end up with card #74. Not bad. Elizabeth is in the 30s. I fill out all the necessary details and wait. After flip-flopping between two songs for the better part of an hour, I decide on "You Don't Know This Man" from Jason Robert Brown's Parade (if you haven't heard it, get to it). As luck would have it, another woman we've been chatting with on-and-off all morning is singing the same song. And her number? 73. Well, there are worse things. Her name is Jessica, and I find her really interesting. She's petite and Jewish, probably about 36, with a mouth that would make a sailor blush. But I like her. She's been in this a long time and is, as she says, a little "bitter and jaded" compared with younger girls like me who are just starting out. She must think of me as some cute novelty or something because she smiles at me a lot and giggles. My excitement and naïveté are something she doesn't see every day, and for one reason or another, she sort of opens right up to me. She suggests different dance studios and teachers and gives me general advice on what it is I'm here to do. This is turning out to be a great day.
Before long, they've reached my number. I grab my water bottle and line up behind Jessica. "You know, it's okay to tell them, 'I'm singing what she sang' when you go in." I thank her for the tip. Then it's my turn. The studio is bright from the sun shining in, and the folks behind the table read as really nice and invested. And I like the accompanist right away. He looks an old surfer from California with his crinkly reddish face, wild sandy hair, and big grin. "I'm actually singing the same cut as she just did," I tell him, trying to keep light and not sound apologetic. "Hey, it's a good cut!" Aww! What a nice guy! So I say hello to the panel, tell them what I'm singing, and do my thing. It goes off without a hitch, and I feel great. "Thank you!" And then I'm back in the hallway.
Elizabeth left before I sang because she didn't get a callback for the readings. Just off my 16-bar high, I soon get the news that I'm one of my group of 20 asked to stay! My first callback! Before long, the monitor passes out sides to four groups. I'm reading with three other girls. "They'd like to hear dialects, if you're able," she announces. I look at the script, and the dialect is written in all over. Thank you, Eliza Dolittle! What we have here, ladies and gentlemen, is Cockney! Half the girls in the room look nervous if not petrified. I couldn't be happier. It's been eight years since I was in My Fair Lady, but I pick the accent up like it was yesterday. When my group is called to read for the panel, the director, who happens to be the man who originated the role of Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde, stands and assigns us parts. We read through once and he switches us up again. Then one more time. He stands the entire time, calls us by name, and looks really engaged. Between reads, he tells us "Excellent. That's really great. Thanks." Seems like a fantastic guy to work with. I start to think what landing this job would be like…
We finish and exit to the hallway. The monitor checks in with the panel and says they'd like to hear us sing some more. They want to hear more of my soprano sound, so I bust out my book. I've got "If I Loved You" from Carousel ready to go. Perfect. After some more waiting, it's my turn to sing. By now, it's almost 5:30, but I don't mind a bit. I'm just thrilled to have had my first really productive day. Two 16-bar cuts and a reading! That really makes it worth my while. I sing for the panel and get good feedback. The monitor tells me that's all for the day, and I'm free to go home.
I wait for a phone call, but it doesn't come. I'm not even disappointed, really. It would have been nice to land work so early on in the game, but I'll just keep putting in my time and keep cranking out 16-bar cuts. It'll happen when it's meant to happen.