Broadway West (Blogisode Three)

Obsessed with this hot air popper.  Now all I need is a pet rock and my status as the coolest chick in New York City will be complete.

Obsessed with this hot air popper. Now all I need is a pet rock and my status as the coolest chick in New York City will be complete.

Hello everyone and happy Friday!

Here’s what’s happening in my house.  I am currently obsessed with air popped popcorn.  Yes, circa 1985, I got a hot air popper for Christmas (thanks, Ma) and I make it every night before I blog.  Put a little spray butter on there and I tell ya, it’s better than the microwave crap we’ve all been eating.  And low in the Weight Watchers points, so that is even better.  The way it smells in here, I could be right back  Carolyn Kraft’s den watching Family Ties, blowing off homework, having a swell senior year of high school with my fake tan, jazz shoes and acid washed jeans.  Hot air popcorn.  Rediscover it, and while you’re at it, read up on all the chemicals in microwave popcorn.  It’s bad news bears, ya’ll.  I know this as a fact because I read it on my AOL homepage, where I get all essential breaking news like Demi Moore is depressed post-Ashton and Jennifer Aniston is having a secret wedding!!  OMG!!

I got a late start on this blogisode, so let’s get cracking.  Rob just went to bed, so we are all alone….and I am scared to death about typos.  Typo anxiety.  That’s what I have.  I apologize in advance.

To start at the beginning of this story, go here, or else you’re going to be like, “Huh?”

So we left off with me quitting and then un-quitting the business because of one little Monster puppet named Kate.  Correct?  Correct.  I ordered a “rod puppet” online that night (a cheap, hack, watered down version of kind they use in the show, but I didn’t know that because what I knew about puppets was exactly nothing.)  The next morning I picked up the phone and called my agent.  For the purposes of this mini play, it is best if you picture the agent as Joey’s agent from Friends.

Agent for the purposes of this mini play.  Insanely accurate.

Agent for the purposes of this mini play. Insanely accurate.

The conversation went like this.

Me:  Hi.  I need you to do me a favor.  I want to get an audition for Avenue Q as soon as they start seeing people.  I don’t know this casting director, but you probably do.

Agent:  What is that?  Is that the puppet show?

Me:  It’s not really a “puppet show” it’s a musical with pup…..

Agent:  I remember a break down for that a few months ago.  Yes, here it is, ‘Must be capable of puppeteering with a rod puppet’.  So tell me, are you a puppeteer?

Me:  Well, no, but I just went online and ordered a pup…

Agent:  They’re only looking for puppeteers, Sharon.  They are very clear about that.

Me:  At some point they are going to run out of puppeteers who can sing and act and dance.  They are going to have to decide if they are going to train puppeteers to be musical theater performers, or if they are going to train musical theater performers to be puppeteers–they will start looking at people who are good at picking up weird things like puppets.  I was a tap dancing CAT on Broadway, and I’d never had a tap class.  If I can learn CATS, I can learn puppets.  I can do this!  I want to be in that first group of non-puppeteers they see.

Agent:  (Pause)  I can’t call over there and tell them how to cast their show when they clearly state that they only want to see puppeteers.

Me:  Why not?

Agent:  Because they’ll think I’m crazy.

Me:  No, they’ll think you’re smart.

The agent never called the casting director.  I eventually left her and found a new agent.  But first, I called my friend Evan the stage manager and asked if he could get me seen.

He could.  And he did.

And this is how my first audition for Avenue Q went.  Let me preface it by saying that it was a “pre-screen”*** and it was in March or April of 2004, a few months before they won the Tony award for Best Musical, which they won right out from under Wicked’s green nose.  That’s right, Avenue Q beat Wicked for best musical.  I remember when it happened I leaped off the couch and screamed so loudly that I woke a sleeping Charlotte.  The Tony Awards are the Superbowl for the theater, and was like watching the Cincinnati Bengals beating the Patriots.  Just awesome TV.

***A “pre-screen” is a quasi annoying audition where you have to go in and audition for the casting director of the show, who then will either approve you to be seen by the director (or an assistant director) at a later date or cut you and dash your hopes forever.  It’s kind of like the quarter finals in sports.  You’re psyched to be there, but one wrong move and you won’t get to the semis, and all you want is the finals and that big fat trophy.  Got it?  I made it all sport-y for my guy readers….which…shockingly….I have a lot of.  Many of whom are straight.  Therefore, I will sometimes toss in a sport references to keep them happy.  And I will also report that my Fantasy Football team totally tanked this year….but I digress….

Okay, so for my audition I walked in wearing overalls (my audition clothes of choice for many years, until my gay

I'm going to buy these overalls and pop popcorn in my hot air popper and teach you all what chic looks like.

I'm going to buy these overalls and pop popcorn in my hot air popper and teach you all what chic looks like.

husband, Jacob Brent shamed me out of wearing them.  Hey Jacob.  I haven’t booked a Broadway show since I stopped wearing overalls and clogs to auditions. Coincidence?  I think not.  I’m totally going online overall shopping the SECOND I finish this blog.)  Anyhoo, I was in my audition uniform (overalls and clogs) feeling pretty cute, and prepared to sing “Poor Sweet Baby” from the musical, Snoopy because that seemed like the right “tone” for the show.

Wrong.

They had me sing a little and then cut me off, had me throw on a puppet (which they provided, but it was the exact some puppet I had at home…not a show puppet) and they had me sing Kate Monster’s big ballad, “Fine, Fine Line.”  With the puppet on.  So I’m singing a song I don’t know with a puppet on my arm and I’m trying to make it work.

I NAILED it.

No, I didn’t.  I walked out the door and never heard from them again, and that is a totally true story.

I went into a deep funk and got all into my “I’m going to quit the business” mode again.  By this point I was casting commercials pretty regularly and it was looking like I could actually make this leap into casting if I wanted to.

But instead….I got a book deal.  Which, my dear friends, is a whole other story and very might be the next one I tell after I get through this one because it is not at all the story you are expecting to hear and it’s fun.

But I digress.

The Avenue Q ship had sailed, but the writing ship had docked.

So suddenly I had this book to write, and 6 months to write it, and a contract to fulfill, and an agent to pay, and an editor who was proofreading and making suggestions (imagine being my editor–she’s a saint, that Danielle Chiotte, love you Lady, sorry about all the typos.  Typo anxiety rears its ugly head again) and I had NO TIME or ENERGY to be bothered by any performing with the exception of a series of very lucrative symphony concerts.  Other than that, I had to WRITE and take care of my first grader and see my husband.  That was it.  Somewhere in the middle of all of this, I’d heard that Avenue Q wasn’t going on tour, instead it was doing a run at a casino in Vegas, and I thought, hmmm, that’s odd and intriguing, I wonder if they’ll call me.  And then my phone never rang and I just kept typing and was a little disappointed, but mostly okay, thinking that ship had sailed, but I liked this new writing ship a lot.

Well then what happened was this.  My first draft contracted deadline was oh-so-quickly approaching and I was behind.  Not way, way behind, but behind.  Behind enough that I took about $1,000 of my book advance money and went to New Hampshire for a month to completely sequester myself in a bed and breakfast and write the rest of my book.  Because that’s what writers do.  Or at least that’s what writers do in the movies and it seemed like a really good idea.

But then, right in the middle of my month of solitude, you’ll never guess what happened.  You think you know, but you don’t know.  But I’ll tell you on Monday.

And….because I am suddenly the Willard Scott of blogdom. I’d like to wish a VERY HAPPY 30th BIRTHDAY to loyal reader Hannah Hammond.  Have a great day, thanks for reading, and I hope to meet you one day!

(For the next post in this series, go here)

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About Sharon Wheatley

I'm a mother, an actress and a writer. I'm glad you're here.
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6 Responses to Broadway West (Blogisode Three)

  1. Hannah says:

    Bahahahahaha!
    Thank you!!!
    And thanks for taking the time to make a video for Robbie’s montage. You were the grand finale, which he was super excited about, not going to lie, I was too! :)
    Thanks again!

  2. JoJo says:

    I am never the first one to comment but I have to confess it is 11:00 am and I am still on vacation in my Lanz of Salzburg nightgown that you bought to match Charlotte many years ago. I love to read these blogs because I thought I knew everything but I am finding out I did not!!! That is a good thing for mothers, it is best to find out when everyone else does. I always wonder if Sharon approves my comments.

  3. Tami says:

    Don’t fear the typo Sharon. It just makes it more of a challenge for us and keeps it real. Loving this blogisode. I turn on my Broadway Pandora channel when I read it to get me right in the right frame of mind :-)

  4. Tracy says:

    Wonderful blog today, Sharon — it made my day. I hate typos but I adore your writing style so much, I don't judge. So keep up the good work and fear not!

    I gotta check out into an air popcorn popper. I'm still doing WW and I know those microwave popcorn baggies are just loaded with grossness. Your mention of air-popped took me back to my college days in the late 70s. A girl could be the most popular girl in her dorm hall with one of those poppers. (You gave me a vivid flashback of white painter pants, rugby shirts, Famolare crepe-soled wedgies and my bi-level Dorothy Hammil 'do. Thanks for the memories—and good advice! )

  5. Chris says:

    Thanks for the Bengals/Patriots reference, Sharon- 'preciate it. I've been away for a month, and am so happy to be reading your stuff again! Woot, woot!!

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