It is the fall of 1974. I have graduated from college. I have graduated from acting school. I am a professional actor. Or I would be a professional actor if I had ever gotten a union job. I get up early on Thursday mornings to look for auditions in the trade paper Backstage. When I find one, I join the long line of the bovine unemployed at the non-union cattle calls.
I have graduated from college. I have graduated from acting school. I am a professional actor. Or I would be a professional actor if I had ever gotten a union job.
As I prepare to “moo” my 32 bars at a call for the musical “Grease,” the accompanist derails the proceedings. Standing at the piano in the pit of the Royale Theatre [now the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre], she announces to whatever poor shlub from the casting agency Geri Windsor and Associates drew the short straw and has been forced to endure this open call, “I saw this fellow play Paul in “Carnival!” this summer. He was terrific.”
Down go the sandwiches. The auditors turn their newly de-glazed eyes to the stage. From a dark-haired, bespectacled fellow in the Royale seats comes a question: “Didn’t I see you in Jones and Schmidt’s “Philemon” this spring?” This is unbelievable. Only a couple hundred people total saw that workshop. God bless this theatre devotee. My spirits soar as I confirm this rhetorical question: I am not merely number 278, I am a New York actor with credits.
Perhaps because of this support, I do sufficiently well at the audition to be offered a job — my first union job — by the choreographer Pat Birch and the fellow in the glasses, a casting associate at Geri Windsor named Vinnie Liff. I am to understudy Danny Zuko in a bus and truck tour of “Grease,” and I have that precious imprimatur of professionalism: my Equity card.