From the time I began in the entertainment industry I asked questions. I asked if people could help me. I asked if I could get an audition. I asked how I could work harder, be ready, I just asked how I could........you fill in the blank.
I asked a lot of questions of a lot of people. And for me, the worst thing they could say was no. And let me tell you, I got a lot of no's, but I also got a lot of valuable information, some great mentoring, loving suggestions, incredible advice, and many many yes's.
Here's an example:
One of the first auditions I "crashed" was for the role of Ginger Rogers in the workshop of a new Broadway musical called GINGER. In the entertainment business, I was a total nobody. No real credits, but lots of tenacity and training. I knew I couldn't get an audition for the lead role so.....I just asked and asked and asked until I found out where the auditions were being held. Then, I called the casting office and I was told not to come. Casting was just doing their job. I didn't have an appointment and it was agent appointments only.
But still, my little ambitious heart couldn't stay away. I knew the auditions were coming up and I just had to ask one more time....by just showing up.
So I arrived at the casting office where the auditions were being held. I was dressed like Ginger Rogers would be, I had my audition book of sheet music, I had my tap shoes and my character shoes. I had snacks and water in case I was waiting a long time.....let's just say I was ready and smiling.
They let me in, surprisingly, and I just sat outside the audition room with a ton of other girls. Everyone was auditioning, and one by one, people passed me by to go into the room, but... I just sat there. Waiting. I don't know why I wasn't kicked out after awhile? Every time the casting director opened the door to the room where the creative team was sitting, she saw me, and made a puzzled face, but closed the door.
I wasn't hiding. I was sitting tall, smiling and waiting patiently. I just wanted my chance.
After 3 hours of sitting there, you would think I would've left right? But no....I was still waiting. My presence there was me asking to be seen. I never bothered anyone. I didn't ask again to be seen. In a gentle, yet tenacious way. They knew I wasn't going home until I was seen for the show.
Then something miraculous happened. The door opened and the creative team walked out for their lunch break....and that's when I saw everyone for the first time, and they saw me. One by one they walked out. I smiled and said "Hello" to each of them. They smiled, said hello, and walked by for their break. Someone must've wondered why I hadn't been seen or asked who I was because suddenly as the break ended, and the creative team walked back into the room and I was asked to audition!! I was asked to come in the room!! I couldn't believe it!
I auditioned, I felt amazingly grateful.....and the funniest thing happened.
I booked the role of Ginger!
If I hadn't asked by sitting there for hours, I wouldn't have auditioned and won that role. That decision to sit outside that waiting room began a very important partnership in my career with choreographer Randy Skinner, his assistant Kelli Barclay and The Ginger Rogers Society. The chain of events that unfolded after that workshop led me (I believe) to being Peggy Sawyer in 42nd ST on Broadway, Judy Haynes in the World Premiere and Broadway show White Christmas, starring in numerous other productions with Mr Skinner at City Center and the world premiere of the musical An American in Paris. All productions and experiences that have shaped me professionally and personally. Knowing Randy Skinner and being able to dance his incredible steps has pushed me as a dancer and artist more than any other choreographer that I have had the privilege of working with.
If I hadn't been there that day, who knows? Maybe that chain of events would've been a whole lot different.
I found out later that it was the head of the Ginger Rogers Society who saw me sitting there that got me the audition. He said I took his breath away, he thought he was looking at a young Ginger Rogers. He just had to see me sing and dance. These are his words, not me tooting my own horn. ;) I am eternally grateful to that man for giving me that chance to audition, and when luck met opportunity I was ready. I was so very ready to be Ginger Rogers.
What happened to the Broadway show GINGER? Sadly, that was one of the many Broadway shows that never made it to fruition, but the moral of that story is....just ask. Ask with your presence, gently nudge and try everything you can. Yes, I crashed the audition, and that might not be possible nowadays. But I wasn't forceful. I was respectful.
Always be respectful when asking, but don't be fearful of asking.
These are confessions of my life as an actress working on Broadway, TV and Film for 20 years
Copyright 2017 M Patterson