Here’s what happened.
Real quick before we start.
If you don’t personally know me, I’ll talk to anyone, and I don’t have stage fright. I’ve always been the gregarious one in my friend group, and this past Friday, I was thinking “what’s something I always wanted to try but let life get in the way of?
You could catch the remnants of that little desire when I’m doing impressions in front of the bathroom mirror, or talking in European accents to my dogs. High school stagecraft was as far as that dream ever went, or so I thought.
Skynet was listening to my thoughts that day because a post from the Wildwood Center for the Performing Arts appeared on my facebook feed. “Audition Call! Spamalot!”
No f-ing way.
Monty Python’s greatest stupid movie of all time was turned into a broadway musical, and a production company was hosting auditions here in town, THAT weekend. “Should I do this?” I thought. “COULD I do this?”
The thoughts that were backyard-wrestling in my head at that moment were:
“If you want to dabble in French, take French lessons, if you want to speak French, lighting-fast, get dropped off in Paris with no friends, no phone, and no money. Immerse yourself. If nothing else, you’ll learn.”
So, I emailed the company and got an Audition. 8:04pm.
What in the fuck was I thinking? “You’ve never acted, Jeff. You don’t even know what happens at an audition.”
“My god, what if this is for professional actors. What if they think I’m a professional actor?!
That stage fright I said I didn’t have? Found it. When I’m stressed about going through with something, I ask:
What’s the best outcome here? “I get a part.”
What’s the worst that can happen? “I learn.”
“FINE JEFF. Thumbs up, let’s do this.” I decided to commit with two hours left to prepare.
:: Jeff Googles how to audition for a play::
Girl on youtube: “You’ll want to bring 16 bars of sheet music in operatic style to sing in your audition.”
Wait, I have to sing!?
I take 30 minutes to learn “The Ballad of Sir Robin” You know, the diddy where Sir Robin’s minstrel gives him shit for being a coward? Classic. At the start, I’m pretty rusty, by 6:15 pm, I don’t sound half bad.
In true intellectual fashion, I realize last-minute that I should probably pick a part to audition for. I’d love a shot at the taunting Frenchman role. I google how to speak with a French Accent and talk in tandem with the movie clip of the Frenchman at least ten times in a row. I practice a few lesser parts I saw in the post. Facial expressions, body movements, anything that may help me look less “newb.”
I drive slightly over the speed limit to my business to print off the sheet music (I never knew about,) and then head towards the audition. I’m feeling good at this point. I committed to doing this, so there’s not a lot to be anxious about anymore.
I check in at the front desk and get my “sides.” I learned these are lines for the character you’re auditioning for.
Hannah, the woman at the table hands me some forms.
“I need your headshot and resume to attach to this when you give it back to me.”
“I need a headshot? Can I get that to you later?” I ask.
“Sure,” she says.
“Great. About my resume, I don’t have one.”
She gives me a slightly confused look “Okay, I’ll just let them know you don’t have any of these things.”
I fill out the forms. Under “Acting experience” I write “maybe this?” I hand it in and wait…
and wait. Then go pee, and wait some more.
I walk backstage and come out to a SCORCHINGLY hot and well-lit stage. In the front row seats are three people who look “artsy” and one guy in a flannel shirt and glasses who looks like a shop teacher.
“Okay, this is Jeff. What are your roles? Let’s give your sheet music to Ben.” The leader of the artsy-looking people says.
I meet the piano player, Ben, (flannel man) what a great superhero name, and hand him the sheet music that I clearly printed off of Fakebook.com.
“Okay, how do you want to roll into this? I cue you or you start me in?” He asks.
In a slightly quiet voice, I say “Ben, between us, I have no idea what I’m doing.”
Ben looked at me from above his glasses and drew a slight smirk up his cheeks. “Right, I’ll hold the first note until you start singing.”
The leader of the bunch stands up.
“So Jeff, you have no experience?”
“No sir. Just some karaoke and speaking for work.” I say. “I wanted to do this, and no law said I couldn’t, so here I am.”
The artsy man smiles some. “So, you just thought, why not go for it huh?”
Me: That’s right.”
Artsy man: “Alright, I like it. Take it away.”
I’ll skip the lyrics and describing of the fun I had as I did it. But it was baller. Everyone at least had a chuckle.
“Okay,” Artsy man says. I like it. Let’s give you Sir Robin’s lines. Zach here will act it out with you.”
Sir Robin is a BIG role in this play. Lots of lines, lots of singing, WAY above my pay-grade, which is zero. And, I don’t know ANY of his parts.
Zach hands me the side and we go. I don’t remember Sir Robin’s voice from the movie so I go right into a slummy London accent and hope for the best. We get about one minute in and it hits me… We’re in the coconut scene. YES! I got this. I almost break character and start conversing without the sides with way more confidence. “How can a two-ounce bird carry a two-pound coconut!?” We have a great time acting out the bit.
“Okay, let’s keep going. Jeff, can you be back here at 9:45 pm tonight?”
“Absolutely,” I said, slightly stunned.
“Great, it’s a dance call, we just need to see how you move.”
Me: “Wait, I have to dance?”
Artsy Man, “Yes but you don’t have to be amazing, we just need to see if Moriah here can teach you.”
I look at him and say “Well then, I’ve got an hour to learn to dance!”
The artsy man laughs a little and I start walking off stage wondering how I can learn to jive in 45 minutes when I hear Artsy man’s voice;
“Jeff, don’t stress over it, you’re coming back because you did good.”
I stop and repeat their names out loud and ask for Artsy-man’s name, then thank all of them. Ben, Zach, Moriah, and Bevin.
I’ve made the first cut.
This is becoming a long post so, I think it’s best to break here and pick back up tomorrow about what happened at the dance call, the actor friends I made in the lobby, and where the conclusion of this whole shabang leaves us.
For now, maybe ponder. “What’s something I let life get in the way of? What’s a way I could immerse myself in it?”
Who the hell knows where that can lead you.
Tune in tomorrow for the finale