My friend Elizabeth told me she was trying out for Anything Goes. Landmark Musicals holds its auditions for that show in about three weeks. If you’ve never been to an audition, you should know that the rooms used for any audition nearly float on all the hope that fills those spaces.
Last spring, I watched the first hour of auditions for the national touring production of My Fair Lady. I think some of those auditioning levitated to the 11th floor where the auditions were held, their energy was so intense.
While I watched the auditions, my friend and volunteer assistant Morgan Faulkner interviewed auditioning actors waiting in the halls prior to their big chance. She found another Elizabeth, pictured above, and recorded their conversation on video. Elizabeth beamed with expectant possibility. While Elizabeth talked about her impending audition, the background chatter almost overwhelmed her. Hope swelled to every corner of those halls.
Inside the audition room, director Jeffrey Moss told me all he was looking for that day was a base of talent. He wanted to know that the actors had some basic abilities. He’d figure out their appropriateness for parts later.
Once the auditions started, the actors came into the room one at a time, announced the piece they would sing, then sang it. After their 16 bars of music, Moss would either ask them to come back for the dance audition — which was often answered with a great big smile and sigh of relief — or thank them for their audition. For the most part, those he chose had demonstrated calmly and comfortably their performance skills.
Perhaps those people he called back had exhibited as much hopeful angst as the rest of the auditioners while they were out in the hall waiting. I don’t know. Unlike Morgan, I wasn't witnessing them before they walked into the room. Morgan interviewed ten others that morning, capturing the conversations on video. Every one of them was pulsing with the same optimism Elizabeth had. None of those eleven actors were among the 30 or so I saw audition, so I also don’t know how they did inside the room. I can tell you that none of those eleven made it into the cast.
We’re awash with messages of hope right now, whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or the solstice. The lesson I take from the My Fair Lady auditions, though, is that hope by itself is not enough. Most of the actors and actresses stepping into the audition room carried at least a ray of that glowing hope with them, but those who got called back stopped hoping and started performing.
I wish you all the hope you can find to fill your life right now. I hope you find yourself swimming in hope for these next two weeks. But come the first of the year, start translating that hope into actions, into tangible accomplishments, into newfound skills, into performance. By the end of next year, you’ll have more reason for hope than ever before.
Terry S. Davis