It was the early 1980s. I was living in Dallas, but came to New York for a short period of time to perform in an industrial show promoting sweaters. I was out-staying my welcome in the studio apartment of a very patient friend who was a big-time dancer in a Broadway musical. He caught wind of a commercial audition and urged me to go, perhaps hoping to get me out of the aforementioned studio apartment for an hour or two. How thrilling--my very first New York audition!
I summoned up my non-union courage, stapled my resume to my headshot, and headed out to seek fame. Or just fortune. As I entered the waiting room of the office, it became clear that this job would not be my ticket to ride. The call was for African-American male models. Although insanely attractive, I have never been mistaken for a male model. I am also not particularly African-American. I've always been a person who knows when to leave a party, and the word "immediately" sprang to mind.
It seems to me that if you're a constantly auditioning actor, you just might be a constantly working actor. It's part and parcel of the game. Read on for some nightmares experienced by three thoroughly thick-skinned thespians.
WHAT IS YOUR WORST AUDITION MEMORY?
Pete 'n Keely
As I was doing my laundry one day, I found that I had run out of Bounce, the dryer sheets that prevent annoying static cling and make your laundry springtime fresh. I continued with my work because I had a big audition later in the day, and I wanted to wear a particular pair of pants. I finished the laundry, got dressed, got on the subway, stopped for a bagel, had a Coke, and walked quite a distance to Musical Theater Works. I signed in and sat down, being quite nervous about the audition. All of a sudden, someone pointed to my leg and said, "What is that?" I looked down and there was my most slutty red leopard thong clinging on to the back of my pant leg! With much anguish and horror, I kicked it off, gasping, "Eww! Where did that come from?" My one consolation is that it didn't drop to my feet during the actual audition as I was singing the finale from Seesaw.
I had an audition for a small theater production in Florida, and they sent me sides for two scenes to work on. I got to the audition, went into the room, and there was only one person conducting the audition. He said, "I don't have a reader for you today." I expected him to say, "So I'll read it with you," but instead he said, "I don't want to read it, so you read your part, and when it's time for the other character to speak, just leave space there and I'll imagine what it sounds like. We'll just pretend we hear the lines." So I did a dialogue alone, with no one to play off of, just to get out of that room. Needless to say, I didn't really follow up on that job.
The Education of Randy Newman
I had a producer's callback for the pilot of Party of Five, and the scene called for me to make a very dramatic exit. Behind the desk were five suits from Sony and a casting director who read with all the inspiration of a Valium drip. The less I was getting from this casting director, the more furious I got. So, when I made my big exit at the end of the scene, I stormed out and slammed the door of the office as hard as I could behind me.
When they called me back into the room after my audition, I realized that I had locked myself out. I was standing back in the waiting room with the other actors, who were looking at me like I had totally lost my mind. I could hear the suits calling my name through the door--it was most humiliating.
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