Posted by: Josey | June 25, 2009

A New York Story: I Auditioned for Broadway

When I moved to NYC over eight years ago, I wanted to write and I wanted to sing and I wanted to be on TV. I do all three. But there was one major “life’s to-do list” goal to check off and the box next to that goal went empty:

Audition for Broadway.

A few months ago, I discovered a casting call for the national tour of Beauty and the Beast. I auditioned—and was called back numerous times—for Rent in both Chicago and San Diego many years ago. So it wouldn’t be my first audition for a national tour, but it was a start. After all, the casting agency was also the biggest Broadway casting agency in Manhattan.

An hour early for the 10am call time, and I was still number 356. I waited my turn, sitting on the floor watching hundreds, if not a thousand, Belle wannabes flip through books of sheet music and do their vocal warm-ups. It seemed like every 20- and 30-something brunette singer in the tri-state area was there. But 1pm rolled around, and my consulting job in Soho would start at 1:30pm so, discouraged, I left.

But a few days later, I thought, What the hell? And I wrote a letter to the casting agents asking for another chance to sing for them. I included a link to this Web site and enclosed my resume and a “head shot” that Jeff took in our living room.

On Monday, one of the agents called.

“We’re having a ‘music general’ audition this week,” she said. “Please let me know if you’d like the 12:10pm slot.”

“Music general”? That means I’d technically be auditioning for everything they cast… including Broadway! And I wouldn’t be “Belle wannabe #356.” I’d be “Josey Miller with the 12:10pm appointment.”

They wanted two contrasting short songs. So I glued myself to YouTube and sang along to every show tune I knew until l found the perfect combination: one sweet, one soulful. My shut-in next-door neighbor heard each one on a loop. And I went three nights without sleep, despite repeatedly reminding myself that my goal was the audition, nothing more. I’d already gotten the part!

I chose my outfit wisely. The weather cooperated with my hair. I guzzled water. And I fidgeted my way up to 42nd Street via subway, looking around at my co-passengers with a self-satisfied inner smile.

This was it.

Is 40 minutes early too early? I questioned silently, staring at the “up” button next to the elevator. But I pressed it and stepped in. The door opened to a massive, fluorescent-lit hallway with a green-painted accent wall. The walls were lined with chairs filled with people who were there for various reasons: Target Commercial, said the sign on one door. Verizon Commercial, said another. And there was my door: Music General.

I scribbled my name on a clipboard sitting below the sign with a shaky hand, and I paced. I opened my backpack. I took out my water bottle. I took a sip. I zipped it into the backpack. One more sip. I opened my backpack. I took out my water bottle. I took a sip. I zipped it into the backpack. One more sip. I opened my backpack. I took out my water bottle. I took a sip. I zipped it into the backpack. One more sip.

Nothing to lose! This is fun! You’re finally here! I reminded myself. But the truth was, I was terrified.

“Josey?”

“Hi! I’m Josey,” I smiled, mustering up every ounce of charm, wondering if I should shake her hand.

She reached out, but only took my resume. And she didn’t smile back. The room felt large. I felt small. I handed my book of sheet music to the pianist and tried smiling again at my panel of judges.

Nothin’.

Unlike my performances at the Bitter End, there was no music stand with lyrics just in case. Unlike singing at Arturo’s, there was no microphone to hide behind, no friendly bassist who I knew would whisper or hum should the words or melody uncharacteristically escape me. And at more than one point in those long four minutes, disappointingly—but not regretfully—they both did.

Time and again, I recovered. I sang my heart out, the title line of “Take Me or Leave Me” feeling a tad poignant, almost triumphant.

Was it my best audition? Nowhere even close. Does that panel of judges know I can sing? No question. Will they be calling me again soon? Not likely.

Does part of me wish the audition had been canceled after the invitation? Yes. Has another part of me never felt so proud? Yes.

And the sentence “I auditioned for Broadway in New York City”?

That’s mine for keeps.

I own it.

Check.

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