November 12, 2002 -- Autumn in New York

Hello dear friends:

The change of the seasons has come to New York. At the moment, the leaves on the trees in Central Park are a splash of gold, rust, yellow, orange, red and every color in between. Mornings are glorious. It was pretty cold a week or so ago, but right now we have an Indian summer on our hands. I love New York.

Titus loves New York. Every morning we join the neighborhood hounds at the dog run in Carl Schurz Park, about six blocks north of where we live, right along the East River. Every now and then we make it over to Central Park, where we spend hours romping among the hills and meadows. After those days, Titus is always a pooped puppy, and he sleeps for the rest of the day and night.

The big news at school is that, miracle of miracles, I've landed the lead in HB Studio's production of "Nora", a new translation of Ibsen's "A Doll's House". I'm playing Torvald Helmer. We play six performances in mid-January. I'm thrilled, if somewhat overworked. School on the whole is chugging along, although I must admit I'm slightly frustrated at a few classes that I didn't think were going to be as hard as they are. I won't bore you with the details, but just know that I'm learning a lot, on several fronts.

Last week, I went on my very first Broadway chorus call, for a new Stephen Schwartz ("Godspell", "Children of Eden", "Pippin") musical. What an experience. It actually started the week before, when I had to show up at the Equity office at 7:00 am and sign the call list. It's important to get there early for two reasons: a) you want to be seen early, before the auditors' eyes glaze over around 2:00 in the afternoon after they've seen about 400 people, and b) there's always the chance that due to the throng of auditioners, you won't get seen at all. There were, in fact, 320 men on the call list, and they stopped calling names at #180. I was #4.

Anyway, I was sweating out for a whole bloody week whether or not I'd have the notes. Seems that my singing classes are serving primarily to show me what I'm doing WRONG with my voice (panic sets in every week when it's my turn to sing in class). For several nights before the audition, I vocalized while walking Titus along the East River walk, and thought out for a week beforehand what I would wear. I updated my resume with my new training credits, and put the final touches on my redone website (check it out --

The morning of, I showed up about 25 minutes before the scheduled call. The deal is that they read off the names of everyone who signed the Equity call sheet the week before, and if you're there, you get a number. If you're not there when they read the list, you're S.O.L. Given that the elevators in this building are about 100 years old and move VERY slow, a lot of guys lost out, and probably didn't get the chance to audition. Glad I showed up early! When they started reading off the list of names, I knew that I was truly playing (or at least TRYING to play) in the big leagues. I recognized several of the names from shows I've seen on Broadway, some from original casts. It was a bit unnerving.

Then came the actual auditions. Again, I was glad I was on early, because I didn't think my psyche would hold out for a long wait, especially when I heard the voices going on before me. Truly soaring sounds. However, lo and behold, once I was in the room, out came the clearest E I ever sang. Alas, I learned a bit too late that I picked the wrong audition material. They ended up only allowing eight bars of music because of the huge number of guys auditioning, and I didn't bring any "money notes" -- just the chorus of "We Beseech Thee", which, while it did have a few Es, didn't exactly end in a huge Broadway belt. Oh well, live and learn.

When I left, I actually felt kinda OK about the whole thing. I honestly don't (never really did) expect to get a callback, simply because the competition is so stiff, and I'm an unknown. I think that alone took the pressure off of me. And at least now I can say that I've done it -- my first audition is under my belt. Hopefully it'll be a little easier from now on. Maybe I'll even have the nerve to show up at the auditions for the second national company of "The Producers", coming up later this month.

I've been pretty lucky to see a few terrific shows in town. I recommend you check out "A Man of No Importance" if it ever comes to your town. Written by the same team that gave us "Ragtime", it's currently playing at the Mitzi Newhouse Theater in Lincoln Center.

My social life is kinda quiet (due to a very heavy school schedule AND to decreased funds), but I occasionally make it out to a piano bar to enjoy a martini and hopefully meet some new friends.

That's pretty much the news, folks. As always, it's a pleasure to have you to write to. Hope you'll visit me soon.

Love always,

Michael and Titus