Full Monty: The Audition [UPDATED]

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Well, for those who have been following my sorry excuse for a life, tonight was my audition night for the Little Theatre of Winston-Salem/Community Theatre of Greensboro production of the musical "The Full Monty", based on the movie of the same name. 

When I first saw this show in New York on Broadway (and I went reluctantly), I remember sitting there having such fun, and thinking, "If I ever get the chance to do this show, I should really make a stab at doing it."  Of course, I doubted such a chance would reveal itself, but it did.

For those who don’t know the show or movie, it’s about five six unemployed steel mill workers who decide to earn some extra money performing — well, dancing — okay, stripping, at a local club in Buffalo.  Will they or won’t they go all the way (i.e., "the full monty")?  How will it effect their relationships with their wives, girlfriends and children?  What happens to five six guys when they suddenly find themselves objectified as sex objects?  It’s a very very funny and warm show, culminating in this showstopping number (as performed by the original Broadway cast at the Tony Awards several years ago):

Now, there are four days of auditions — two in Winston-Salem (earlier this week, Monday and Tuesday) and two in Greensboro (this evening and tomorrow evening), with callbacks tomorrow evening as well.  The scuttlebutt for months was that a LOT of guys in the Triad area were auditioning, and I didn’t think I held out much of a chance.  Of the five six leads (the guys who actually go the full monty), I realistically thought — because of my age — that I had a shot at only one of the "five six guys" roles: the role of Harold (the former steel plant supervisor of the other guys).  He’s also the only baritone of the five six(except for the black guy, which I can’t do), and I’m a baritone.

So I shot for Harold (even though, to be honest, I was waffling back on forth for a few days about whether to try out at all).  I even got my hair cut conservatively (for me) yesterday. But I didn’t audition in Winston-Salem either Monday or Tuesday.  I just wasn’t well-rested or prepared.  I wasn’t very rested today either, but I left work a couple hours earlier, worked on my audition song ("A Marriage Proposal" from March of the Falsettos), and silently prayed — and sang – as I drove to Greensboro.

I arrived in Greensboro early for the audition with a knot in my stomach, assisted I suspect by a hot dog I grabbed on the way at one of those convenience/gas station places — you know the kind of hot dogs that have probably been sitting there all day?  (What was I thinking?!?  Stupid, Ken, stupid.) 

Something about musical auditions really freaks me out — probably because I am not a strong singer or dancer.

Let me cut to the chase: I quickly learned that only 14 people — fourteen! — had tried out Monday and yesterday in Winston-Salem.  I had expected 30 or so.  That uplifted my spirits a bit.  Unfortunately, all those people were guys, but still…. only 14 guys?  That’s not as stiff competition as I thought.

At tonight’s audition, there were about 14 people, about 10 of them were guys.  I knew most of them.  Neil Sheppard for one.  I knew he would try out, and I sort of figured him as Dave (the "fat one").  But then I saw how much weight he had lost, and realized that he could be either Jerry (the lead) or Malcolm (another of the guys).  I knew most of the other men who auditioned there, too: Lee Huggins, Jeff Aguilar, Steve Collier, to name a few.  I was also familiar with a few others from other local productions (CTG’s "Beauty and the Beast", "Just Kidding", etc.)

So how did I do?  First came the musical audition.  And to put it bluntly, I tanked.  I did my best, but I think nerves got in the way.  All my preparation just failed me.  I guess I was tired too — it’s been a rough few days.  I mean, I didn’t butcher it, but I know I could have done better. 

The reason I know I didn’t impress them is because they ran scales for the people who obviously could sing (you could hear them through the walls), and they didn’t run them for me and a couple others.  Besides, there was another guy there who sang and acted great, and he was a baritone.  He was perfect for Harold, and I knew it right away.

Dancing was next.  That was fine.  I had worked with Donna (the choreographer) before.  She’s a sassy, foul-mouthed black woman, and I just love her to death.  Of course, the joke of the show is that these guys can’t dance very sexy, but she wanted to see what we could do anyhow.  I think I did fine, at least compared to most of the guys (except, of course, for real dancers like Jeff).

Then came the reading.  Now, I’ve worked with Jamie (the director) many times before, and he — like most directors — has an idea of what part he would like you to audition for, even if it’s not what you had in mind.  And it’s clear that he was looking to me as a possible Dave, the "fat guy" and the best friend of Jerry (the lead role).  It’s like a few years ago, when I auditioned for Jamie for "Gilligan’s Island: The Musical" — I auditioned for The Professor; Jamie cast me as The Skipper.

Anyway, I read a few times for Harold, but by then, it was clear to me that this other guy was far far better on every metric (looks, singing, etc.) for the Harold part.  So I gave all I had for the Dave readings.  It was hard switching gears, because I had been thinking Harold for months — Harold is upper-class and rich; Dave is an average Joe Sixpack.  Actually, Dave is a larger/better role than Harold’s, but I dismissed him early because the songs he sings are SO HIGH that I just figured I wouldn’t stand a chance.

And Neil Sheppard — what can I say?  I read with him.  Man, he is such a giving actor.  I mean, he is so great.  He gave me looks to play off of — it was phenomenal.  What a pleasure just to read with him. 

My "fantasy" — now that the whole thing is over — is that I would play Dave opposite Neil playing Jerry (and he was outstanding as Jerry).  Of course, not knowing what transpired the other two audition nights and who showed up, I have no idea what my chances are.  I’m sure the musical director would NOT want me as one of the five six guys.  Realistically, the only way I could get Dave is if nobody decent tries out with my, um, girth (I have mixed feelings about this, seeing as how I’m 30 pounds lighter than a couple of years ago, but….).  And listening to the soundtrack on the way home after auditioning, I think I can pull Dave off.

So, callbacks are tomorrow.  I haven’t the slightest idea if I will be called back.  None at all.  Of course, if I don’t, that doesn’t mean I won’t be cast — it’ll probably just mean I’m not one of the five six guys.  I think I’ll be disappointed if that happens, but I’ll survive and be over it in a day.  I went into this thinking it was a longshot.

But I’ll be devastated if I don’t get cast at all, as anything.

Anyway, I’m surprised turnout was so low for men, and even more surprised that it was so low for women.  There are a lot of good women parts in this show.  And only four showed up in three days?  I know Emily is auditioning tomorrow — maybe others will as well.

Well, time will tell.  To be continued….

(Or perhaps not)

UPDATE (12:05 p.m., Thursday):  Spent all morning in the dentist’s chair, hoping I would get some news by the time I got out.  It’s now noon on Thursday — so far, nothing.  No message at home, or cell, or work.  No email.  Doesn’t look good.  Had a nice email exchange with Heather who is still on the fence about auditioning.  Hope she makes the right choice.

UPDATE NO. 2 (1:35 p.m., Thursday):  Got the callback for tonight.  Wish I had more than three hours sleep last night.