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Monday, October 19, 2009



so I'm jumping into another play.

From Wikipedia:
The Matchmaker is a play by Thornton Wilder. The play has a long and colorful history. John Oxenford's 1835 one-act farce A Day Well Spent had been extended
Actually, let's skip through the colorful history -it's not that colorful. We can sum it up by noting that the lack of originality in popular entertainment is nothing new.
…the expansion of a previously minor character named Dolly Gallagher Levi, who became the play's centerpiece. A widow who brokers marriages and other transactions in Yonkers, New York at the turn of the 20th Century, she sets her sights on local merchant Horace Vandergelder, who has hired her to find him a wife. After a series of slapstick situations involving mistaken identities, secret rendezvous behind carefully-placed screens, separated lovers, and a trip to night court, everyone finds themselves paired with a perfect match.

The play was a success at the Edinburgh Festival in Scotland and at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane in London's West End before finally opening on Broadway on December 5, 1955 at the Royale Theatre, later transferring to the Booth to complete its run of 486 performances. … In 1964, the play enjoyed yet another incarnation when David Merrick, who had produced the 1955 Broadway production, mounted a hugely successful, Tony Award-winning musical version entitled Hello, Dolly!
You've probably heard of that one. I only knew about it from the snippets in WALL•E, and from my father singing "Hello, deli!" any time we ate deli sandwiches. (He's never thought it out past those two words, so those are the complete lyrics right there.) So the story is fresh to me, even though it's a 50-year-old play based on a 175-year-old play. The Matchmaker isn't a musical, which is new ground for me, and it looks like it'll actually be funny, which is also new ground for me. (I kid. No I don't.)

The auditions were on Wednesday. A "45-second comedic monologue from a witty play" was called for, so Yakir Feldman lent me (on VHS) the movie The Goodbye Girl, I watched it, and then I learned a good monologue from it. He was absolutely right, it was exactly what I was looking for.-------
Not everyone in the world is after your magnificent body, lady. In the first place, it's not so magnificent. It's fair, but it ain't keeping my up nights. I don't even think you're very pretty. Maybe if you smiled once in a while, okay, but I don't want you to do anything against your religion. And you are not the only person in this city who's ever been dumped on. I myself am a recent dumpee. I'm a dedicated actor, Paula, you know? I'm dedicated to my art and my craft. I value what I do. And because of a mentally arthritic director, I'm now playing the second-greatest role in the history of English-speaking theater like a double order of California fruit salad!
I think I can do it pretty well. And not anything like it was done in the movie- I've got my own take on the material.

Anyway, none of that mattered because by the auditions the director had changed her mind. Her name's Tanya. She decided, without telling anyone, that she'd rather have people read out of the scripts than have them prepare other monologues. Everyone who came (I counted five, including myself.) was disappointed to hear this. Some insisted on doing their monologues anyway. I didn't, which means I'm probably going to have these random lines of dialogue rattling through my head until the day I die, but what the heck. They're good lines, my head can survive it. Two of the actors who auditioned I recognized: a guy who was with me in 1776, and a girl who was in Oklahoma!.

I auditioned together with someone who claimed he knew me through the Feldmans. I remember one time when I was at the Feldmans that someone came in and said I knew him, and everyone acted shocked when I didn't know who he was. That may or may not be this same guy, but it makes his story plausible so I'm inclined to believe him. The audition went decently, though I felt like he was getting all the good lines and I was just saying "Holy cabooses!" a lot. But I had to play that role because he's older and one character needs to be older than the other. Then the director told us to improvise with the characters. That didn't go well; I've never done acting improv before. I tried to play along, but I just didn't think fast enough and the end result was awkward. Though it might have made sense that it was awkward. No, it probably didn't. I just messed up. Anyway, the other guy left and I stuck around.

I stayed because Tanya said that (after she got her flat tire fixed) she'd let me read again. I was eager to snatch up this opportunity for four reasons: because I wasn't entirely satisfied with how I'd done, because there was nothing in particular waiting for me at home, and because if I tried to make the director happy, I'd be more likely to get a part. At the time I didn't think about why she was asking me to stay, but I think it was because the turn-out was so poor that she wanted a male auditioner to have someone to read lines with. (She seems more interested in how we act together with other people than how we act on our own.)

So I went back to read again, and in the meantime I'd come up with a different way to play the role. So I read the same lines off of this other guy (who'd just replaced Tanya's tire and therefore seemed confident), who wasn't as good as the first one. And I read my part in a different voice than before. Afterward I asked Tanya whether it was better or worse, and she said it was "Definitely better.". So I kept doing that. She then had us try two other parts.

But I think by that point I wasn't really being judged anymore. She'd already said to me that she thought I had a talent for comedy. I don't really know whether she was telling the truth or not, because she doesn't have Asperger's Syndrome and I'm not a telepath. But she insisted that she wasn't just being "nice", if that's worth anything. Anyway, I mentioned all this to a whole bunch of people, and the response has been split along pretty clear lines. The people who know me as a casual acquaintance all responded with a "Sure! You're funny!". And the people who actually know me (family, friends) all responded by laughing hysterically. I'll let you know when I decide which side I agree with.

(Holy cabooses that's a ramble. Please take the length of this post only as a sign of how excited I am about everything, and not as a personal offense to you and your free time. Thank you.)

Today (technically yesterday but I haven't gone to sleep yet so I'm still calling it "today") were the callbacks. I'm almost certain I'm in, if only because so few people seem to have tried to get in. (All four people I met on Wednesday were there.) I'm also almost certain I know which role I'm getting, because while I got to read a few different roles (including the one I hadn't gotten to read on Wednesday; I had to practically beg Tanya to let me read that), there was one role which she never gave to anyone but me. That was the one I did with the weird voice. So apparently she likes that. It's a good part. Not as good as some others, but I get to do all sorts of wacky fun stuff.

When the callbacks started I was nervous and twitchy, but by the end I was having lots of fun. I met a few nice people there, though I'm not sure that counts if I've already forgotten what they look like and what their names were. (And I have.) But they were cool. There was one girl who was playing Dolly sometimes, though she's a few decades too young, and she was great. Everything Tanya had told the others to do, she was doing seemingly effortlessly and with lots of humor. Very impressive. Apparently she's not even going to be in the show (or the country, actually), she just came to help out with the callbacks. There was another woman I talked with while she graciously drove me near the central bus station, who is a doctor with ADD who in America would use her impressive skill with accents to convince people of other races that she was "one of them" and that they should listen to what she's saying. Astounding.

See, I'm having all this fun and I'm not even in yet. And of course I shouldn't get ahead of myself. I only find out whether I'm in (and if so who I'll be playing) at the beginning of the next month. But I do think I'm going to be in, and I'm really excited. This could be so many kinds of fun.



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