Back in June, my friend Steve sent me an audition notice for Manhattan Theatre Club’s upcoming production of To Be Or Not To Be, an adaptation of the Jack Benny, Carole Lombard film from the 40’s (and to a lesser extent the Mel Brooks film from the 80’s). They were looking for a guy my age who played the fiddle.
So what the heck, I e-mailed my headshot, resume and an mp3 of my fiddle playing and figured that would be the end of it.
They called. They wanted to see me. Thursday, June 12th definitely. Friday to see the director…maybe.
I had an important trip to Chicago planned, but I delayed it a few days and threw together a trip to New York. [cue – 1960’s New York montage music – buh bah bah bahhhh…]
Thursday. Nervous and excited as I had ever been, I made my way to the MTC offices.
I inhaled….signed in waited 10 minutes walked in the room met the casting director hello read the sides played the fiddle thank you walked out…..exhaled.
And frankly felt terrible about the audition. I didn’t play very well and my reading seemed very flat. I put on a brave face, but assumed that the adventure was over. Discouraged, I got on the train to retreat to my hotel in Jersey. Thirty minutes passed.
They called again. They wanted to see me again. Friday.
This would be for Casey Nicholaw, the director. His last job was as director and choreographer for The Drowsy Chaperone. He was nominated for a few Tony awards. Gulp.
Friday. The callback was a different ballgame. Since I never expected to be there, I was strangely calm. They kept me in there for quite awhile. I got to read every side they gave me and I really think my fiddling blew them away. We all had an easy rapport, I was confident and I showed them exactly what I intended. It was thrilling.
Ultimately, though, I didn’t get the part. Yes, it was a huge disappointment, especially since I came one step closer. But the callback made it worth the effort and I will never forget what it felt like to walk the streets of Manhattan with my fiddle case slung over my shoulder.
To Be Or Not To Be opens today.