How I Got the Job - Part 2: Keeping the Faith
or "You Gotta Fight to be Legally Blonde"
For Part 1, click here.
After the summer, I had a couple months off before my next project, which was playing John Truitt in Meet Me in St. Louis at Village Theatre. As I had no idea when, or really… IF a call would come for Legally Blonde The Musical, I moved on with things as usual in Seattle, while at the same time trying to put myself in a good position to get the job whenever the call came. This meant familiarizing myself with the show, continuing my training, and getting whipped into the best shape possible. You’ll see when the show gets to Seattle - these boys are FIT.
The call did eventually come, though not for a while. It was early December, midway through the run of St. Louis, when they called and said they wanted me to come to New York in about four weeks. This was actually much more advance notice than I had expected, so that was nice).
And as luck would have it, they wanted me to come in right in the middle of a three day break from St. Louis, so I didn’t even have to deal with a conflict I started to feel at that point that perhaps some stars were aligning for this.
So my wife and I got two cheap plane tickets (yay!) to New York and took a mini business/leisure trip. I realized before the audition that Jerry Mitchell would not be able to be there as he was in the middle of putting up Legally Blonde on London’s West End (which has now gone over as a huge hit and is already extended into 2011!). So I sent him a message, told him I was excited for the opportunity, and thanked him for calling me in. He responded and said he would make sure to give a call to the folks doing the casting and put his two cents in. Now, considering that Jerry’s two cents is more like the whole dollar, this was an exciting thing to hear. The producer, Hal Luftig, who also produced Catch Me, who you may have seen at Spotlight Night, also said he would speak on my behalf: Woah.
A couple days before the audition, I got a call from the casting agency, Telsey & Co., asking if I could come in an hour before my appointment to have a private session with Justin, the casting director. Justin and I had become friends over the summer and fall, and he wanted me to get a chance to run through the material in the room before the team showed up – awesome! That portion went very smoothly, and helped reduce my nerves for the real thing. Consequently, the real thing went very well. Part of the job is covering (or understudying) the role of Warner, so they had me sing his song, “Serious,” and also read a scene from act two. They said things like “That was great!” “Thanks Jason” “Really good.” which in truth, are pretty standard responses, but there did seem to be a tone of sincerity to their compliments, so I felt good. I was asked to come back for the dance call, so I knew things were going well so far.
I hung out around Times Square for a couple hours and then returned for the dance call. I hadn’t had a good sense yet of how many other guys were called in for this spot, but however many they started with, there were seven of us total at the dance call. Not the best odds in the world, but again, I felt like I might have a slight cosmic edge, so I was going in with a good amount of confidence.
We did a short combination from “What You Want,” one of the big dance numbers in the first act. This was brief as they just wanted to get a sense of how everyone moved. The real test was to follow. This particular track we were auditioning for involved a heavy dose of jumping rope (yes, jumping rope). There is a number in the show that is basically a live workout video, and there are four guys who do a whole jump rope routine. So we proceeded to jump rope for over an hour: Woah. Not knowing we were going to be doing that, and therefore not being fully stretched or prepared, I ended up straining my left calf, which luckily was completely healed by the time I joined the tour! This was a unique audition challenge, but luckily I had done a good bit of jumping rope in college (thank you, Fight Class!).
We finished up, and everyone chatted a little in the lobby as we got our stuff together to leave. I was completely exhausted, physically and mentally, and walked back up to Times Square, where I just sort of wandered for a little bit, taking in the city, and processing my day. After about fifteen minutes, I got a text from Justin that said “Let’s talk about today. Meet me at the Starbucks at 43rd and 9th?”. My heart leapt, but then quickly sank, because that message sounded like I was in for a “Hey, you did great today/Keep up the good work/Maybe next time” sort of talk. So with my stomach in knots I walked past about eight Starbucks to get to Starbucks.
I walked in, saw Justin, headed toward him, and he stood up and said “I just wanted to tell you in person…” (oh crap, here we go) “…congratulations.” (wait… what?!). “Oh and by the way, they want you to start in six days.”
I can’t really articulate the emotions that were happening for the next few hours – ranging from elation, to anxiety about having to leave my current show, Seattle, and most importantly, my wife for the better part of seven months – but over the top of it all, was the realization that I had just booked the biggest job of my career so far. Luckily, the tour was able to wait one extra week, which gave me the time I needed to get all my stuff in order .
I got a chance to correspond with Jerry a little more after I had gotten the job, and he congratulated me and let me know that he indeed had put in the good word he said he would. This whole process, from summer to winter, really drove home for me that in this business (just like in most others) it’s about who you know, and more importantly, what kind of a reputation you have. There is so much luck and random circumstance that plays into casting, that the best thing you can do for yourself is to make sure everyone loves to work with you, and knows that you’ll do a good job. Most of the rest of the stuff you can’t control.