Thursday, February 02, 2012

My Audition And Possible Decisions...or The Party's Over

I had an audition today. It was not my best. First of all, I didn't particularly want to go. I already have a job lined up that conflicts with the productions I auditioned for. My main reason for going to the audition was to have another job contact to meet my unemployment benefit requirements, but the fact of the matter is that if I get the job I auditioned for today, it would be wiser financially to take it and tell the theater producing the show I've already booked that I need to back out (more on that momentarily).

The other reason I didn't feel the audition went as well as it could have was that I've been fighting a cold since Sunday. In fact, on Sunday it felt like the flu. I feel like I'm getting over it, but my voice was certainly not at its best today. We were asked to pick two contrasting songs in the styles of the shows we were auditioning for. I didn't feel either of the songs I eventually sung were quite right. I had originally had two other, more challenging and more appropriate, songs picked out, but my voice just wasn't cooperating today, and so I picked the ones I thought would be easier to sing with my cold. In fact, even to the very minute before I entered the room, I was still vacillating between songs.

It was an open call that began at 9:30 AM. I arrived at about 10:00 AM. There were quite a few people there, and the particular facility we auditioned at was not made for that many people. It was quite claustrophobic and there was nowhere to sit. However, about 95% of the people there were non-union, and rules dictate that union members are to be seen before non-union, so after only ten minutes my name was called. Most days, belonging to Actors' Equity really pays, and today was certainly no exception. It was so great to just breeze on through.

I sung my first song, which I've done many, many times, but for some reason I tripped over some words. My voice held out pretty well, but it was not the best. It was a comic, character piece, and the director laughed, so that was nice. He asked to hear my other selection, which is a good sign; it means they liked what you did enough to want to hear more.

My second piece was a pop ballad; not entirely appropriate for the shows for which I was auditioning, but the only pop piece in my repertoire that I felt I could sing well enough with my vocal issues.

Frankly, I thought it was terrible. I emoted well and acted the message of the song reasonably well, but I just felt my voice wasn't up to snuff. It felt strained to me, and I assumed that's how it sounded. So I was truly surprised when the director asked me to attend both the dance call at 1:30 PM as well as the callback at 3:00 PM.

I was given some sides to look at and a snippet of a song from one of the shows to learn. The director seemed pleased with my audition. I was also happy that I was being looked at for some character roles that wouldn't require as much dancing in a couple of shows that I know will have a lot of dancing.

I went back home and told Jonah how it had gone. Jonah told me if they offered me a part, I should take it. I reminded Jonah that the rehearsals for these shows and the rehearsals for the job I've currently booked conflicted and that I couldn't do both. Jonah pointed out that the job I auditioned for today is a 27 week contract at $710 a week while the other show I've booked is $835 for only six weeks. That's $19,170 (before taxes) vs. $5010. Plus 27 weeks of work is more than enough for me to qualify for another year of really good health insurance. It seems like a no-brainer.

Trouble is, the show I'm already booked for is a show I've been wanting to do for years, and this would be the first time I've had the opportunity. It's also our artistic director's last show at this theater, and I would be working with some good friends in a really top-notch production. It's also a more serious piece, which is something I'm trying to do more of.

One of the shows I auditioned for today has a pretty cheesy script. It's a harmless show, but not particularly satisfying artistically. The other show I think would be fun and at least has something to say, but it's not really what I'd rather do. Also, the schedule sounds like a grind and the shows are performed in an outdoor theater in the hot summer sun by a company who I haven't been entirely impressed with.

Normally I would choose art over money any day of the week. What makes this particularly challenging is that Jonah's show, where he has worked for six years, will be closing in September, so he will be out of a job in just seven months. Jonah's job pays really well and the chances of him finding a job that pays equally as well as this one does, even in the entertainment industry, are very rare.

Jonah and I often joke that he's my "sugar daddy," but there is some truth in that. The fact is, it is because of Jonah's job and incredible salary that I have been able to go off and do the kind of work I want to do or work jobs that pay a lower salary. Jonah pays the majority of our utility bills while I am away because he has been able to do so. That will end soon. I have to face up to the fact that I will have to be more prudent about which jobs I accept, and I may even have to try to find more permanent and secure, perhaps even non-acting, work here at home to maintain some stability in our finances.

While the creative part of me doesn't want to take the jobs I auditioned for today should they be offered to me, the practical part of me thinks it's absolutely necessary to do so. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

After we talked about the possibility of getting this job, Jonah made me some hot tea for my voice, and I plunked out this song I had to learn (one which I was previously completely unfamiliar with) and went over my lines for the parts I was asked to learn (and also discovered that I had accidentally been given two identical pages rather than the two different pages I was supposed to get. Fortunately, I am a quick study of lines, so I wasn't too worried.

Soon, I left to reach the dance studio at 1:30 for the dance call. I got there at about 1:05 PM. No one was around but a couple of people. I assumed everyone had gone to lunch and would be back at 1:30 PM. Soon 1:30 rolled around and still no one. I checked in the nearby dance studio and discovered that the dance call has actually started at 1:00 and that I had been told the wrong time. The stage manager apologized for the mistake and, after consulting with the director, told me they would just see me move at the callback at 3:00.

I was able to watch everyone else do the dance that had been learned, and it looked pretty challenging. I thought I could get it, but was annoyed I had missed out on having it broken down for me.

Dancing is always where I get cut. I'm a good actor and decent singer, but if the dancing is hard, I'm out. It's just not my forte. I make up for it by being a very good character actor. I've been in numerous shows with heavy, intricate dancing where I was the non-dancing comic relief because that's what I excel at.

I was kind of thankful I had missed the dance call because I think I would have been among the weaker dancers there, and that probably would have lessened my chances, but I was nervous I would have to learn the whole routine and dance it on my own, which in many ways is worse.

After everyone danced (and I watched), we were asked to wait until we were called to read. I was finally able to get the missing page they hadn't initially given me and study it.

I was paired with another guy, who fortunately was also a good character actor. We went over our scenes and practiced the song. After a while, we were finally called in and we read the scene for the first show, which I thought went reasonably well. It wasn't my strongest performance, but it was pretty good, and the director seemed happy.

Then we were told to sing the song individually. It was a three-part song, and the high part was written for a tenor, not a baritone, which is what I am, but the director wanted us to sing the melody (the high part), so we each did. First of all, it was higher than I normally sing, and second, this pesky cold made it harder to do so. I think on a normal day, I would have sang it fine, but I did strain on the highest note. To my credit, I think I still sang it very well, and as it was a character song, I was able to show off that skill.

Again, to my ears it wasn't my best, but the director seemed very happy with it, so what do I know. I'm my own worst critic, after all.

After we both sang, the other guy was excused, and I read my parts for the other show, which was great because they were all very different characters, and I am a good cold reader, so I really think I knocked it out of the park. The director seemed very pleased and said thank you.

I asked if they still wanted me to move. He said, "No, I don't think so. The characters we're looking at you for don't need to be great dancers." Ah, music to my ears! However, just as I was leaving, the choreographer asked if she might teach me a very simple combination just to see how well I moved. What she taught me was so easy, especially compared to the dance combination I had seen earlier. I was able to learn it quickly and did it well, so now I was really happy I had missed the dance call.

Anyway, they thanked me and said I did a good job. I don't know if I'll get it or not, but I thought the audition went much better than I had any reason to believe it would.

I guess we'll see what happens. It's not my dream job, but it would still be an acting gig and a good-paying one at that. I've never backed out of a job before and don't really relish doing so, but the fact is I haven't signed an official contract for the other job, and people in this industry back out of jobs for better gigs all the time. Jonah and I also eventually would like to move out of house and into one in a better neighborhood. This job I auditioned for today would make that more likely. I guess I'll cross that bridge when and if I get there.

1 comment:


As hard as it is to be stuck between 2 offers, nothing is better than having the security of another year of health insurance and a steady gig-- and the theater in question will probably LOVE you and have you back season after season, which could be a great thing for your situation. Ideally creative fulfillment and financial practicality can meet perfectly in the middle but its not always the case. At the end of the day-- longer contracts mean more $$ in pension, health and of course your savings account!! Keep us posted, and great job!!