So after a year of dramatic improvement after the awakening, I finally was sent crashing back to earth after my failure in My Three Angels. I was disappointed, but there was no use dwelling on it. I swallowed my heaping helping of humble pie and moved on.
I had a break of a few months before I attempted my next audition. I pursued a role in the Playhouse production of The Underpants directed by Carl Beck. This was my first audition for Carl since the awakening and I thought it would be a good test of my newfound powers.
I came to the Playhouse and saw I would be going toe to toe with some of the heavyweight regulars of the Playhouse. When I got up on stage a most wondrous thing happened.
I was able to keep pace with the heavyweights.
I was on. I was having the time of my life up there and it was funny and it was working. No matter how this audition turned out, I knew I could leave with my head held high. A few days later, I got the rejection slip BUT there was a twist this time. Carl had actually taken the time to write a little note in the margins and it said:
That was your strongest audition. Lots of confidence. Good work.
Not a bad second prize at all. And it helped to rebuild the confidence that had been lost by the debacle of My Three Angels. I rode this confidence into my next audition which was Starkweather over at the Circle Theatre.
This play was based on the infamous serial killer, Charles Starkweather, and had been written by Doug Marr, one of the Circle’s founders. Doug had actually asked me to audition for the show and I gave a fairly good showing of myself at the audition. I didn’t hear anything for several weeks and decided that I must have been rejected.
In the meantime, I had read a play called Biloxi Blues which was going to be the season finale in the Howard-Drew Theatre over at the Omaha Playhouse. This was an unusual cast because, with the exception of one or two characters, the cast is comprised entirely of young people, and I mean really young. The characters are teenagers and I was 28 at the time, so I didn’t think I had much of a chance.
On the other hand, I was unusually young looking. Even today, I still have a babyface, even though the gray in my temples has hopefully neutralized it to an extent. As you read in part 1, my “young look” often cost me roles that I was actually old enough to play in years, if not appearance. At the eleventh hour, I decided, “What the heck?” I had absolutely nothing to lose in the attempt.
The show was guest directed by Susan Clement-Toberer, the artistic director of the Blue Barn Theatre. I had actually auditioned for her twice before, but neither audition was much to scream about.
My first audition for her had been for a show called The Dark at the Top of the Stairs and it occurred during the time frame I was suffering from depression. It was actually one of my stronger auditions during that period, due to the fact that I was auditioning for a character nearly as depressed as I was, but it still wasn’t that great.
The second time had been for a show called Three Tall Women over at the Blue Barn and my audition bombed. It was the only time I had ever choked during an audition. I had brought my own monologue and when I got onstage, I grew very self-conscious and flopped on my face.
With my new confidence in my powers, I was ready to turn that around.
And what a turnaround!!
For the first, and only, time in my avocation, it was me and everybody else. I was quite clearly in a class of my own and could not be touched. Susan would have me read pages at a time and forget to stop me because she “got lost in what I was doing”.
When I had signed up for the audition, I had, again, limited myself to just 2 characters. After I had read a couple of times, Susan asked me if I were willing to consider other roles. I saw the message instantly and told her that I would be open to other roles as they were all interesting.
Shortly thereafter, I got my first proper callback. The callback was more hotly contested, but I considered myself in the upper echelon of things. When I finished, I thought I had a really good shot at getting cast.
While I was waiting for a response, I suddenly got a message from the Circle Theatre regarding Starkweather. It turned out they had wanted to cast me the entire time, but forgot to offer me a role!!! I told the theatre that I would let them know after the weekend as I had auditioned for another show and I wanted to hear how that would turn out.
On Sunday, Susan offered me the role of Don Carney, the wannabe singer, in Biloxi Blues. I politely declined the offer from the Circle and was ready to embark on what would be a grand adventure.
To be continued. . .