An interesting thing happened towards the end of my audition day. It started off with one of those "everything in a second" moments:
I looked at the music… I looked at the actor… I started to play… I noticed some writing on the music… A cue line?… I noticed the actor start to speak… Or was he opening his mouth to sing?… Was the actor going to stop me and start his audition again?… I finished playing the very short intro… Still he did not stop me… Then the actor started singing…
For the next 30-40 seconds as he sang, and as I accompanied him, my mind raced: Was I wrong? Did I throw the actor off? Should I just go ahead and stop and request to start again? As the actor held the last note of the song, and as I played the "outro", I hoped and hoped for the best. Then I heard him start his monologue, and from the very first words I could tell that they were leading to the phrase that he had printed on his music. Another 30 or so seconds later, when I heard those words spoken, my heart sank even more. When the actor turned back upstage and approached the piano to collect his music, I did not want to look at his face, but I knew it was something I had to do. When my eyes briefly met his, I could sense the confusion, the shock, even some anger (which was totally understandable under these circumstances), the self-control. I received the confirmation I did not want to receive. Unfortunately, due to the situation, the process, all I could do while handing him back his music was to say somewhat sheepishly, "I’m sorry." I had to maintain a semblance of a smile, an air of "nothing is wrong" in order not to upset the next person. He did not say anything to me after he took his music, and started to walk away. I still questioned my questions.
All of that in just a little under 90 seconds.
After those 90 seconds – after that audition – I made sure I asked the right questions. Confirmed and reconfirmed the answers I received. There was even one person who turned back to me once they were in place to say that they were doing their monologue first. Did word already get back to those waiting to go on? Or was she just in her own world of self-security?
In an earlier post, I had asked, "Do I care too much?" Now I know that I do. That I must.
Did my mistake possibly cost the actor a job? Did my mistake ruin that actor’s day beyond his time in the audition room? Did he think that I did that on purpose? Did he think that I wanted to sabotage his chances for getting a job? Did I offend him? Did I hurt him? All of that and more was going through my mind during and after(!) those 90 seconds. Another 90 seconds later, I did confess to those in attendance that I had made that mistake: hopefully to explain any confusion or unsure footing they might have sensed from that actor during the course of his audition. Alas, my confession felt a bit too little, too late.
I am not foolish nor self-deluded enough to say that I am the one in charge during an audition. Yes, I have joked from time to time that I can make or break someone – Well, I’ll just play it my way! – but it is so against my nature to actually follow through on that faux-threat. Even with my not-so-favorite people that I end up playing for audition after audition – sometimes more than once in the same week – I just can’t make them have a bad audition. The revenge would most definitely not be sweet.
I have two more days of auditions to go. There are another 400 musical auditions. Another 400 songs to play. Another 400 Actors. Another 400 reasons to care too much.