Tuesday, June 1, 2010

1 Door Closes... and then some

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You know that old saying, “When one door closes, other opens”? I usually gag whenever I hear that reference, because any time something unfavorable happens, people try to cram optimism down your throat. But there is something to be said for optimism coming from a place of confidence and self-worth. Optimism that says, “This setback is just *what happened* - not a comment on how good I am or my place in the industry. Let’s see what other projects I can rock now that this project has been laid to rest!“

I had a recent audition experience that was, well... odd, to say the least, but thank goodness I had it.

A director/producer saw me perform at a cabaret event, and sent me an email afterward raving about my work and inquiring about my availability to work with him on a project. This had never happened to me before, and I was thrilled! The project, he said, initially Off Broadway in the 90s and he was looking to do a revival, and felt I would be perfect for one of the female leads. He promised to keep me apprised when/if it ever came to fruition. About 4 months later, he contacted me and said a fundraiser reading of the project was moving forward in anticipation of a full run next year, and would I be interested? He had assembled a cast of his favorite choices, and asked us to send him our schedules so he could book some a date for a read through.

As fate had it, no one’s schedule matched, so he had to put the rehearsal on hold. He asked for schedules later in the month, and said he would get back to us with a firm date. Instead, a few days later I received this email:

”Sorry for the short notice, but an opportunity has come up for us to have a "casting party" this coming Sunday from 4-6pm. The Musical Director and I will bring together a couple of ideal choices for each role, pass out a few scripts and scores, do some musical sight reading, give you character/scene breakdown, do a little cold reading and make our final decisions on the cast. Different? Yes! But, an ideal way to introduce you to the show, each other and the fun of the project in a much less competitive atmosphere than your typical cattle call.“

Hmmmm..... not only was this new plan a bit different than what an Equity actor would normally expect, but it was obvious that I was no longer a shoo-in for the role. But I had already won the director’s heart, so now all I needed to do was win the musical director’s heart, and I’d be in business. I committed to attend the ”casting party.“

Well, after learning 3 songs and a monologue, I think it was safe to say that I ROCKED THAT AUDITION. I am a good sight reader, so I learned the music accurately and quickly. I was also able to infuse the character with my unique brand of charm, and I felt relaxed and in my element. But as most audition stories would have it, being good at what you do often has no bearing on the casting decision. This became evident when I was asked to stand side by side with a young man who was being considered to play my love interest. The minute I stood next to him, I knew I was done for. He as quite a bit younger than I, and no taller than me. There was no way in the world that I was going be cast opposite him. Just no way. No matter how much the director loved me. No matter how well I performed.

And I was right- I got a very nice email that evening from the director thanking me for my talent and professionalism, but alas, the part was not meant for me. And while all audition experiences can have value squeezed out of them, this one felt a little like 2 hours of my life that I could not get back... if you know what I mean.

And then I remembered something... While we were working music, the musical director mentioned that he was considering us for more projects than the one we were auditioning for. So, I pulled out his business card (which i was sure to get while at the audition) and wrote him a thank you email:

”Hi, Chris! It was so nice to meet you at the casting party for [name of show redacted] this weekend. I'm sorry that we won't be working together this time, but I hope that we get to work with each other on something in the near future. And please keep me posted on your projects in general - I would love to come out to support your work!“

I received a kind email from him saying that he was sorry they couldn’t use me for the show (in fact, I was his top choice.) And wouldn’t you know it - he had a project he had composed, and asked me if I would be interested in being a part of it. SCORE!

Which brings me to last night... Monday evening, after about 4 rehearsals, I performed in a concert version of his song cycle. I sang along side several Broadway and Off Broadway performers, and got the chance to learn some great new music (and got to know the composer in the process.) When considering this concert versus the original show I auditioned for, I’d say I traded up!

In the end, talent and professionalism always win, even if they don’t win you the part you wanted. Opportunities are always available to those who prepare for them and grab them when they fly by. I’m looking forward to the next door that slams in my face, because who knows where I’ll be headed next?

Though, if the door leads to being cast in Wicked, I’d rather walk through it. =)

Erin Cronican's career as a professional actor and career coach has spanned the last 25 years in New York City, Los Angeles and San Diego. She has appeared in major feature films and on television, and has toured nationally with plays and musicals. She has worked in the advertising & marketing departments of major corporations, film production companies, theater magazines, and non-profit acting organizations. For more information, please visit http://www.erincronican.com.


  1. “This setback is just *what happened* - not a comment on how good I am or my place in the industry." I read that in your cronical, and it fits my first rejection letter experience PERFECTLY. Thank you so much for writing that. :)I may be trying to break into the writing industry, not acting, but there's a lot in common between both industries, actually! Surprisingly. It did really help. It fit. :) Thanks again! You have NO idea how much that one comment helped to rise my spirits back up!!

  2. LOVE this post. So typical of how this business works, and how the right attitude and professionalism always triumphs. :)


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