Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Sunshine vs. Clouds

The week just past has been a prime example of the schizophrenic nature of the actor's life. Or at least, of THIS actor's life.

Our production of Lord Arthur Savile's Crime has continued apace, with audiences both large and small. The crowds are very much enjoying this slight, off-kilter Oscar Wilde tale of wit and murder. This week, we welcomed a new cast member, the lovely and talented Sunshine Capelletti, whose parents must surely have been hippies. I worked with Sunshine many times in the past several years, in staged readings, where we almost always played husband and wife, or brother and sister. She is a terrifically talented young woman, and she is the perfect choice to replace our original ingenue, Tricia McCauley, who had to leave the show due to a prior engagement.

After a gracious little amount of actual rehearsal, Sunshine stepped into the breach (and the breeches, as one of her roles is a man), and our shows have continued to gain a following. I have found a real affection for the two roles I play in the show, and an even greater affection for the folks with whom I am sharing the stage. I will be very sad when the show comes to its conclusion next week.

But for now, our shows have been greeted with enthusiasm and laughter from our audiences. It's been quite a good week, Stage Guild-wise.

But, as almost always happens in my professional life, where there is success, there is also failure. And I had my share of that this week as well. I was up for two shows this week, losing one because of stale fish, and the other because I have a penis.

Fords Theatre ("But otherwise, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?" Yes, that Fords Theatre) had called me in twice for a new musical they are producing next year. I was frankly surprised to get the second callback, as the auditors did not express much enthusiasm during my first. But that just proves that one never knows, do one? I was very pleased to get the second callback, and worked quite a while on the four scenes and three songs they sent me to prepare. On the day of my callback, illness struck, and I just could not get out of bed any longer than to send an email apologizing for my missing the audition. That email was not picked up before my appointment time, so I received a series of messages and emails from the casting intern and the musical accompanist, wondering where the hell I was. Well, I was flat on my back in bed, trying not to expel any more noxious bodily fluids.

Once my situation was known to them, the folks at Fords were very sympathetic, but they had a show to cast, dammit, and apparently that show had to be cast that very day (opening night for this show is March 30, 2011. That's not a misprint; they were desperate to cast this show which will open to the public more than a year from now).

Well, what can you do? Point out to them that, with rehearsals starting 11 months in the future, perhaps their sense of urgency was premature? I had much higher hopes for a summer stock gig which turned from a good possibility to a sure bet to a complete gender reversal, in the course of about a week. I was invited to attend a private callback for this one (no one else was there, just yours truly), and spent half an hour having a ball with the director, my buddy Ray. I sang, read a speech or two, and talked about the logistics of putting this oddball little musical satire onstage. When I left, I felt I had delivered my best audition in a number of years.

I was pretty crestfallen, then, when the call came six days later, telling me I was not, in fact, going to be playing this aggressive theatrical agent in Ruthless, the Musical. They were going a different way, a euphemism often used to dismiss an actor. But Totem Pole Playhouse wasn't kidding; they really WERE going in a different direction: they were hiring a woman.

I suppose the role is sometimes played by an actress, since the character is in fact a female. It was originally written for, and played by, a man. What's more fun than a man in a dress?

I have only played a few drag roles in my career, and I looked pretty gruesome in all of them. Perhaps a picture such as this one surfaced, and Totem Pole thought such a vision would frighten their audiences. Who knows?

So, after Sunday's matinee of Lord Arthur Savile's Crime, I return to the place where we performers spend so much of our time: on the dole.

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