Sunday, September 11, 2011

I Do NOT Belong on the Jersey Shore

My room mate and I are little old ladies. Tonight, we declared 9:30 to be late, made hot tea (when it wasn't cold outside), and then slipped into our jammies and slippers. Oh yeah. We party like the Jersey Shore kids!
I went to the Jersey Shore yesterday for an audition that was a nightmare. It drives me crazy that so many people think actors should work for free. I drove out to the Jersey shore for this audition, which is not at all my native habit (see my tea drinking habits and bed times please!). This theatre claimed to pay in their Backstage advert. Lies! They did not pay and now top the list for most "gheddo" audition in my life time. And I've auditioned in Texas City. :-)
The auditions were not at the theatre (as the call had said they were), but down the boardwalk a ways (no signage towards this. I had to ask the cute guy at "boardwalk help," which was probably the most positive point of this experience!). So into this store front I go. It has been recently gutted. No floors, just concrete that has a previous floor pulled off it. And a line of plastic outdoor chairs my Grammy purchased in the 80s. This did not look good, but as I had driven an hour on a toll road to get here, I figured it couldn't possibly hurt to stay. (Cue horror clown music)
So I gave the little old lady at the plastic table my headshot, resume, and sheet music. I filled out their form and checked no on "would your friends call you a diva?" WWMCD? What would Maria Callas do? My new slogan for life!They mug shotted us against a white wall in groups of four (I was the sole owner of head shot and resume), then they took us four at a time to a back room to sing.
Once again, we sat in classy plastic chairs in a room the size of my kitchenette (I live in Jersey. It is a small space). It was also under construction, and the only light was from a crappy desk light. We took turns singing in this fluorescent oasis of creativity with our recycled audition numbers affixed to our bodies.
First person to go- a very large, older, black lady with a cane who claims she "can sing anything" and preceeds to sing/scream "Amazing Grace" in multiple keys. I slide down into my chair.
Next one up. An elementary school teacher in town for a conference who is doing this on a whim. He sings acapella like the woman before him. This time the religious selection in multiple keys is "You Raise Me Up." The director seems very tickled with both of them. I slide deeper into my chair. My hot pink audition dress is not helping me in my wish to disappear from here.
The director is also ringing the "Run Away!" alarm bells in my head. He looks and is dressed like Jimmy Buffet. Complete with flip flops. But there are no cheeseburgers or margaritas in sight.
The next singer is slightly better. She's a very sweet girl a couple of years older than me with a dance degree. She doesn't have any background in theatre beyond high school musicals, but that makes her look like Debbie Allen after what has just gone. She gives it her best shot singing "Cabaret." At this point, I am sunk way low into my green plastic garden chair (the green was an improvement over the white). My entire being is longing to be back at Pearl Studios at 7 am the day before. The crew of bright young girls with no make up on all beginning to get primped up in hope that they could go be a Wonderette in middle of nowhere Indiana. The sweet director Gary John LaRosa worriedly hurrying through the studio in his khakis, button up, and glasses (professional clothing!)The floors and spaces all finished (wood floors!). Nothing gutted. The people not crazy.But instead, I am in crazy Asbury, New Jersey. And it is my turn to sing in the closet for Jimmy Buffet. Joy.
I go over to the accompanist. He looks over my sheet music and goes "Ok," then looks up at me with child like innocence, waiting for me to start. This worries me."Do you need a tempo?" I ask him. All accompanists want you to give them a tempo without beating, stomping, or slapping at them (which is an art in itself). "Nope. I'll just take it off you." It's my turn for an "Ok." Only mine is not as assured as his was.So I launch into "I Wanna Be a Rockette." My subtext being "I wanna get out of here." I sing my 32 bars wishing I was anywhere else.
Then they lead us off for a dance audition. Oh yeah. There was a finished bathroom to change in. I am convinced it was the only room in the building that had not been gutted. Then armed with my trusty laducas, I am off to their dance space. Which is also gutted. With no doors and opening onto the boardwalk. People walking by gazed at the freak show within. To make it even better, the floor is the same torn up concrete. And I didn't bring my sneaks!I pray my shoes forgive me for their brief time on that floor. We proceed to learn choreo for Joseph that I would totally have given to my Kids on Stage students back at Main Street. And my kids would have done it better than most of the people in the room.
It's finally over (Thank God!), and the choreographer (hahaha) pulls a few of us over an asks us to come back for a musical rehearsal in an hour and a dance rehearsal the next day. Gheddo not quite callbacks? Trying to be a hard boiled customer, I ask her about gas stipends. After a long wait and watching the crew of them wander about their gutted space I got a "We can work something out." What on earth does that mean?
I left and did not come back later. I got a call that night saying that they would like to cast me in Joseph. When I asked if they paid, I was told they were all volunteer. I turned them down. My laducas thanked me and I made cape cods while the roomie crafted. Conclusion: I am beyond unfit to be anywhere near the Jersey shore. A fact which I am quite grateful for!

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