Oscar E Moore

From the rear mezzanine theatre, movies and moore

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December 21st, 2023 by Oscar E Moore

So what!  So I haven’t got any professional experience.  Just loads of school stuff.  Starring roles, by the way.  I keep telling myself over and over it doesn’t matter.  It doesn’t matter at all.  Even so – No. Wait.  Maybe I could include that business with Tom Sawyer at Carnegie Hall Rehearsal Studios that was somewhat semi-professional where I sang “Beautiful Ohio” solo!  Why not?!

So I haven’t got an agent.  Don’t even know what an agent is or does or doesn’t do as the case may be.

An agent – quote, unquote – supposedly, I hear tell, gets you a job.  I thought talent did that.

Unfortunately I can’t read music.  Fortunately I have a great ear and can pick up a tune and memorize it immediately with my natural tenor/baritone tones that have caused some to swoon.  Just don’t ask me to harmonize.  I get lost.  Quickly.  So there.

But this is a job that I desperately want.  My very first professional audition.  On the sly.  To be completely explicit I intend not to tell a soul and that includes my best buddy Irwin anything until I am chosen.  At age sixteen!  Amazing.  Isn’t it?

Oh, yeah.  I want to be respected.  Not made fun of.  Be a somebody on Broadway and maybe just maybe my classmates, not the idiots that laugh and jeer when I sing in the auditorium but the others that tell me I am destined to be a star on stage especially after my breakthrough comic performance of Henry Spofford III in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, directed by our so called acting coach – overweigh, horny, jovial but not the neatest of guys – Mr. Perkins.  Whew!

Boy did I surprise all of them, myself included.

All of a sudden during after class rehearsal something overtook me.  The part was strictly dullsville.  And so the – “I don’t know what happened” happened and I was took.  And I was funny.  Really funny.  I never knew funny was in me.  I was a success and those idiots that made fun of me and my singing had a rude awakening.  I was all of a sudden taken seriously.  Seriously funny I mean.  Whatever.

So why did I wind up in tears at the automat at 42 Street and Times Square on that rainy day in May at four in the afternoon?  That is some tale to tell.   So here goes…

My mismatched, taciturn parents (except for their occasional battle cries with each other at 3 am, awakening me and disturbing my slumbers with pots and pans rattling between screeching) purchased a trio of tickets to the new Rodgers and Hammerstein musical FLOWER DRUM SONG as a gift for my birthday.  This once a year gift was most welcome.  However high the seats were and they were always the highest, one could still make out what was on stage and could hear the beautiful words and music.  One song caught my attention immediately.  “Don’t Marry Me” – I had to learn it.

Somehow I finagled Mr. and Mrs. Taciturn to buy me the sheet music at The Colony after the performance.  I already planned during intermission to buy the original cast recording at my local record shop in Astoria.  With my saved up meager allowance.  Which I did post haste.  I always bought the LP of any new musical.

It did not matter that I couldn’t read the sheet music, I mean understand all those funny tiny black notes? – it was only to accompany me as I sang along with the album in the privacy of my bedroom.  Over and over until I had it down pat.

Now the plot thickens.  I had seen a notice in The New York Daily News regarding the forthcoming production of WILDCAT staring Lucille Ball and that they were searching for a young adult singer/actor/dancer OPEN CALL for a particular role.  Me.  I would be perfect.  Why not?

Oh, before I forget I must tell you that my dad mistakenly thought himself a dapper song and dance and teller of snappy stories sort of guy.  He wasn’t.  No way.  Except in an embarrassing way whenever he tried.  Which was every opportunity he could squeeze in at card parties that I was at times forced to attend.  Sad.  Mom knew to remain silent.  Sadder still.  She had heard them all.  Too many times.  Enough of that!  Back to WILDCAT.

It was raining.  No it was pouring.  Like in that Lana Turner flick – The Rains of Ranchipur.  Raining, like in torrential!  Actually it wasn’t that bad. I sometimes tend to exaggerate.

I cut class.  Got into New York by subway and found myself at the stage door of the Alvin Theatre soaking wet where a long line of other hopefuls, equally soaking wet, awaited its opening.  Standing in puddles and dripping with anticipation.

Had I rehearsed over and over to stand in line?  You bet!  So I waited.  Me and my damp sheet music.  I knew all the words.  Just didn’t know what would happen.  Could it really be me being chosen among all these hopefuls?  Why not?  After all I always was cast as the lead as I have already previously mentioned in all the school shows.  Elementary through High.  Hansel.  Curly.  Danny Churchill…refusing to wear some pink sequined toreador outfit that…

My crazy thoughts were racing through my head when the stage door opened and we were herded in.  Single file.  Like we were going to face a firing squad.

I was actually, really unbelievably inside a Broadway theater.  Not outside waiting for some star to autograph my program.  Inside.  Dark.  Empty.  Exciting.  Smelly.

One silly skinny lonely lamp lit by a caged bulb on the barren stage.  Barren except for a rickety upright piano and its worn out player and all us damp and nervous would be wannabe stars.

We were put in groups.  Like cattle.  Awaiting our chance to sing.  I was terrified.  Some guy kept moving us around and changing what group we were in and lots were let go – not even a thank you and then it was my turn to audition.

“NEXT!”  Yeah you dreamy eyes!

Where was all the magic? I wondered as I handed over my sweat dampened sheet music from under my shirt to the pianist who, stifling a yawn, seemed bored stiff from hearing what sounded like bits of every song ever written.

Petrified but fighting the feeling every step of the way I with a clear and firm voice stated my name and age – so far so good – adding my aspirations at winning the role I was here to win and that my Aunt Fanny who lived in Fort Lee had the highest of hopes…

“Please.  Young man.  Just sing.”  The mature and deeply resonant voice emanated from the darkness of the theater.

Yes, sir.  Sorry.  Thank you.  I nodded at sleepy eyes to once again begin my intro.

And so we began.  But something was off.  It just didn’t sound like the recording.  It was way different.  But I started to sing anyway and it was worse.  “Can we start over?  Please.”

I guess because I was sixteen and good looking and polite they all were so nice to me and so off we went.  “Off” is the operative word here.  Sleepy eyes and I were not in tune together and so I asked them if I could sing without the piano which they agreed to which I do not understand to this day why they agreed with so many others impatiently waiting to be next.  But they did.  And I sang.  It felt terrific.  All that I thought it would be.  Irwin would be proud.  Complete silence.

And then I got a very polite “thank you” from that deep resonant voice out there in the dark, retrieved my sheet music, smiled at my pianist and slowly left the theater, out through the stage door, barely holding back tears.  And headed straight to the Automat.  It was still raining.  But I had made it onto a Broadway stage with an unforgettable audition.


To wit –

Don’t put the cart before the horse.  Do not audition until you are absolutely ready.  Let a smile be your umbrella.  And remember that a recording can be in a different key than what is on the sheet music where never the twain shall meet.

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