Once I had received confirmation of my application for the cast, the next step was to audition. There were two primary requirements for the audition: a prepared monologue and a song. These were intended to test the candidates ability to memorize, sing on key, perform the passage rather than simply read it, and project well enough so the audience would be able to hear.
This latter was critical since the outdoor performance areas were unamplified, and it was necessary to be able to project well across a large area without straining the voice. If not done skillfully, a performer would be without a voice before the end of the first day’s performances.
With the passage of 20 years I have forgotten what I presented as my spoken effort, but I clearly remember what I sang. I wanted to sing a song that was naturally a solo effort, and one that did not have a large range or difficult passages so that I could master it in a short time. It was also important that it be able to be sung a cappella, as there would be no instruments to accompany me or any of the other candidates.
After looking through my collection of tapes and CDs I settled on the song by Arlo Guthrie titled “City of New Orleans”. This is a simple song with easy to perform lyrics, so I was able to memorize it and feel comfortable about the music. It certainly helps that I liked the song a lot and had learned much of it before I decided to perform it.
Once at the auditions each person was invited up on the Gloriana stage to perform their spoken part, and then after a break, the same individuals sang their song. While the spoken parts were performed in their entirety, very few of the songs were sung to their conclusion.
One notable exception was my own. After hearing several people sing, I no longer felt there was a risk of my own performance not matching or bettering the other candidates. A song from “The Littlest Mermaid” was a popular choice, and was performed by a few of the women candidates.
Finally, it was my turn. I took the stage and stood in the center, introduced the song I was to sing, and cleared my throat. To help me keep time, I began to tap my foot as started to sing. I fully expected to be stopped like almost all the other candidates, but the director simply sat and listened as I sang the entire song. When I finished, I received a polite round of applause, which was also unexpected.
I was one of the last candidates to sing, and when the last person was finished Paul Kostrach announced that acceptance letters would be sent out to the successful candidates. Before I could leave, he came over to me and said that I didn’t need to worry about being accepted, as he was certain I would be, and that he had already thought of a character for me to play: the village undertaker.
I responded that while I was happy to play whatever they felt would be appropriate for the show, I had in mind another character instead.