Friday, February 6, 2009

Friday Dance Party: I Don't Think I Got It

I wrote recently of my Split Focus, and this week has been more of the same. I have returned to NC to rejoin rehearsals for Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, which have been ongoing in my absence. There was certainly no need to suspend rehearsals while I was in DC, as my role is quite small. We are now nearing the end of our second week of rehearsal (out of only three and a half), and I have yet to rehearse any scene in which I speak. There aren't many of those, granted, but so far, I have been working on the "tragedian" scenes in which I take part. Limited action, no dialogue, and lots of what we used to call at The Shakespeare Theatre Co. "active listening." It's a fancy term for hanging around in the background and not looking dead.

The trip to DC was action-packed, to say the least. I returned for three days to help run the annual Liaison Committee Auditions, in which several hundred Equity and EMC (Equity Membership Candidate) actors presented their talents for several dozen theatre companies. My volunteer job, which I handled last year as well, was to coordinate the actors, gathering them into groups, giving a short orientation, and leading them to the slaughter. All with generosity of spirit and respect.

Why are you laughing?

I took the opportunity to audition myself as well, with my new, though temporary, "Polonius look." This is a substantial departure from my normal self, and those who knew me, to say the least. Oh well, maybe it will increase my chances of snagging a gig out of the audition. My three minutes went well, I thought, though only time will tell if the audition yields fruit. I did come away from the auditions a bit deflated, though not as a result of my work on The Day. With the childish naivete which only actors can muster in their adult years, I had hopes of being asked to return to the local production of Shear Madness again, having played in their "day company" the last two springs. Sadly, that will not be happening, and I was more disappointed than I had a right to be. In the past, there have been YEARS between my engagements with The Madness, so I really have no right to be surprised that I am being passed by this year. In addition, I had a remote hope that a buddy who now heads one of the nice summer stock theatres in the region might offer me some work this season, but that hope is dwindling as well.

Any wonder I'm having trouble focusing on the project at hand?

Regarding our Liaison Auditions, there is a musical component for those who wish to sing. It's hardly a full-fledged musical audition, but it reminds me of the most arresting "Audition Story" out there. I've already written of my admiration for the original production of A Chorus Line, which contains the single most dynamic opening sequence of any musical. The 1975 Tony Awards devoted their entire opening to it, and it contains all the performances which later became lore. It's a blurred copy included below, but even with poor quality, the excitement cannot be denied. The clip includes Donna McKecknie (in the red), who won the Tony, as well as Sammy Williams and Kelly Bishop ("I knew the routine when I was in front"), who also snagged awards. Keep an eye out for Priscilla Lopez (in the red jersey,dancing with her tongue), who lost her Tony bid to costar Bishop, but later won the award for A Day in Hollywood/A Night in the Ukraine. And if your eyes are sharp, you'll glimpse Wayne Cilento, ("What happens now...?"), who later became a Tony-winning choreographer (Tommy) and is currently represented on Broadway by Wicked. By the way, the director/choreographer who takes center stage in this sequence is Robert Lupone, Patti's brother. But you don't have to know any of these people to be fascinated by this dynamic clip.

So, in honor of all actors auditioning everywhere, here is this week's Dance Party: