I had once planned to call this year’s story series “A Season of Renewal”, but life had other ideas as it’s actually become my shortest season in history.
Picking up from our last tale, Lost Boy Found In Whole Foods continued its critical success into that year’s Playhouse Awards. All of my actors were nominated for acting prizes which certainly made me proud with my first dip into the directing side of things. We ended up taking home 4 prizes (Best Featured Actor, Best Supporting Actor & Actress, and Best Cameo by an Actress).
Success followed us to that year’s TAG Awards where Lara Marsh took home the Best Director prize in a three way tie. I’ve laid claim to the left big toe of the statuette.
Broadway World Awards were next on the list where we ended up taking Best Actor, Director, Supporting Actress & Actor, and Best Set Design (Large Theatre). I truly was blessed to have been involved with such an astounding production.
But for my own little endeavors as a performer, it was a long wait for my next audition. In fact, my first audition for the season took place only a month ago. It had been a year and a half since my last audition, the longest amount of time that had ever passed between attempts.
I auditioned for The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance at the Omaha Playhouse under the direction of Jeff Horger. The film version is one of my favorite westerns and it’s a powerful story of a man standing on principle against the law of the gun.
For those of you familiar with the film, the play is quite a bit different than you may expect. The play more closely resembles the short story with which the film took quite a few liberties. Characters have different names. Some characters in the film aren’t present in the play. The language is a bit stronger. Valance is considerably more intelligent. The play is also quite a bit talkier.
My choices were pretty limited. Originally I had been interested in the roles of Ransome Foster (played by Jimmy Stewart under the name Ransome Stoddard in the film) and Dutton Peabody, the newspaperman (played by Edmund O’Brien in the film). There isn’t a Peabody character in the play so that went out. That left me with either Foster or the Marshal. Valance didn’t enter my mind as I don’t have the look of a stone cold killer. Foster was even a long shot as most of the characters in the show were supposed to be in their mid twenties. While I still look younger than I am in the face, my hairline and hair color more readily reveal the truth that I am about to turn 40 in a few months.
From the start, I felt there was something off about this read. From a technical standpoint, I was pretty solid. But the spark of my heart simply wasn’t there. It just felt like I was going through the motions. For the first time in years, I walked out of an audition without the glimmer of hope that I had a chance and that ended up being the case. Given that most of the primary cast is in their mid twenties, I take some solace in the fact that even a top flight audition might not have netted me a role.
I actually had my last audition for the season earlier this week. I received an invitation from Christina Belford-Rohling to audition for Elephant’s Graveyard, the next reader’s theatre production of the Playhouse’s Alternative Programming series. The play is based on the true story of the lynching of a circus elephant.
I came to the audition and was pleased to see quite a few faces, many of them new to me. I’ve noted that the reader’s theatre productions tend to bring out quite a few people since there is a lot more flexibility in the casting.
Aside from the brief synopsis, I knew nothing about the play so I was open to any character. When I read the character, I felt a pull towards the Ringmaster, Clown, and Preacher.
Let me tell you something. Monday’s audition was the best type of audition. I read the monologue for the clown and the beats just fell into place. I walked into the room and nailed the read. The spark was there and I was truly enjoying myself.
When I finished, Christina said, “Truly excellent. I want you to try something for me.”
Then she brought out a music stand and had me place the monologue on it. She then asked me to actually mime juggling and do the last half of the monologue and really make her feel like I loved that elephant at the end. I had actually envisioned the juggling when I originally read the monologue so this worked out well.
I started juggling and the physicality of it made my read a little more nonchalant. And I switched up the juggling as I spoke, moving from two hands to one back to two, tossing it under my leg, and catching it behind my back. I caught my imaginary balls and delivered the love line which could have been taken a smidge farther.
Christina said, “Really excellent. I don’t think I need to see anymore if that’s all right with you.” I had no problems with that and went home, content with a good read.
Let me tell you something. Monday’s audition was the worst type of audition. Despite an excellent read, I failed to make the cut. But one thing I’ve learned over the years is that the reward is always in the read. If you read well, you won. The casting really doesn’t matter. It’s just the icing on the cake.
Until the next season.