I knew I was in deep shit when I showed up for the dance audition for “The Wedding Singer” (a musical based on the movie) and 90% of the actors were wearing legitimate dance wear. Guys 15-20 years younger than me stretching out in full splits and shit. I just smiled and pretended not to be intimidated. After all, the role I was going out for wasn’t a dancing role, was it? And surely these eager beavers were just over-preparing.
I’d performed with this local company once before, and the “dance” audition was just the word they used for the the call-back, which involved reading for parts and some singing. Surely they didn’t expect me to do any real dancing. I’d done very well in my singing audition. The company manager was there, and very familiar with my work AND the fact that I was a comedic dancer at best.
As I sat at a table with five giggly young ladies, the colors of their dance wear were perfectly coordinated with each others (hehe, like the fairy godmothers in Sleeping Beauty), I thought back on the resume I had handed in. Under special skills, I’d written “fake ballet, fake modern dance”. It’s one of my comedic strengths, but not something to be taken seriously by any stretch of the imagination.
After 20 minutes of waiting around in jeans, Van’s, and a hip Express military shirt (trying to look young enough), calming my nerves, finding my center, telling myself David, you can fucking do anything you want… you can even fake your way through a legit dance audition if you have to, the choreographer called us all into the dance studio room. Wooden floors, a dance bar, mirrors, the whole spiel.
“Make three lines! Face me!” she yelled. And wasn’t that a sadistic smile she gave me? Me, the only person in street clothes?
“Follow me. Down tempo at first. Begin in first position.”
It was abundantly clear from the very first moves that this was a legit dance audition. This was happening. I was going to stand in front of a professional choreographer with thirty trained dancers and fake it.
The pace was fast, from one 8-bar set to the next. But so far, nothing I couldn’t handle. Nothing I hadn’t done with an aerobics video or a Zumba class….until the pirouettes. Fucking pirouettes. Yes, I’d been faking pirouettes for laughs for years, but this was for real. I just shook my head and laughed. Ok, so what’s two more fake pirouettes? I couldn’t help thinking of the Sesame Street song game “One of these things is not like the other”. Me, that’s what.
Suffice it to say, I learned the entire routine (more or less), probably looking like the Scarecrow from The Wizard of Oz. Sweat poured from my humiliated brow as we broke into groups, first into boys and girls and then into groups of three for the final audition. There appeared to be a grouping of skill level as well. My group was the very last one to dance. We were not the real dancers. In fact, we were the only group that had to do the routine twice because it totally fell apart 3/4 through the first attempt.
When they gathered us in the lobby to call names to read parts. My name was not read…but neither was my character’s name, Glen Gulia…still a chance. The director said the same thing they always say, “If I didn’t call your name, you are dismissed. But just because your name wasn’t called, does not mean you are out. ” Yeah, right. But I was hopeful.
I headed to the back studio for a run through of the current show I’m in, thinking I was done. But the theatre manager followed me and pulled me aside to make sure I was sticking around. I’d be reading for Glen Gulia after all.
I won’t know for a few days if I got the part and boy is my body aching from fake dancing, but I’d say I’ve got a really decent shot. I may have been the only guy who was actually old and douchey enough to fit the role.