Posts Tagged ‘Willy Wonka’

Willy Wonka Auditions

I stared into the crowd with an over abundance of little faces staring back at me. The director broke through my nervousness:

“So what will you be singing?”

Her voice startled me. For some reason I expected to hear the voice of Chris Turner, RENT’s main director. I broke through my uneasiness with my song choice, still scanning the audience:

“A censored version of Take Me of Leave Me.”

Still going through RENT withdrawal, I couldn’t help but perform a selection from the musical. I missed my family. A few were in the crowd, Laura M (over the moon), Daniel S (mic tech), Karen M. (shoe and shirt application), Dede (mom), and Mandy B (mic check).

I turned my back to the crowd, waited for my CD to boot up and stood there, wondering how completely ridiculous I looked singing a song meant for two women.

I loved it.

The music started. I fell into character:


I startled myself. My first note was so loud I could hear it reverberating off the walls. My mind jolted into wonder:

Dang I am loud. A darn bullhorn. SHUT UP!

I quieted my voice:

“A tiger in a cage, can never see the sun…”

I remixed the next phrase:

“This Divo needs his stage baby, let’s have fun.”

I pointed to a lady in the crowd:

“You’re the one I choose…”

My finger picked another individual, as I threw away melodious words and yelled:

“Folks would kill to be in, yo shoes!”

I had pointed at a little boy. He sang back into his chair and huddled close to his friend. I tried not to laugh at my folly.

Soon, I was nearing my cursing stanza. I had planned on gearing it towards the judges, thinking that the auditions would take place in the lobby. Instead, I was on stage, towering over everyone, with no table to anchor my foot against. I improvised:

“And if you give a…”

I leaned forward towards another little boy, his face flushed white and he nestled into his mother. She half grinned, half shielded her child wondering what I would do next. She knew the next word. I leaned closer:

“And if you give a…HUH!”

I gasped and threw my hand over my mouth becoming my own censor. I stood straight up, worry purposely thrown across my face. I went to move into my last stanza only to be interrupted.

It was the director. She had broken her own rule. Before I could finish her hands were beating against one another, a smile spread across her face. I thought:

What happened to the no clapping rule?

I was startled back into reality and I quickly exited the stage, forgetting my CD.

I ran to Laura M.

I collapsed to the floor and into her lap. She patted me on the back singing praises of my performance, cheering my self-censor. Daniel S. joined in and soon I was embracing Karen and Mandy. Mandy spoke:

“As soon as you turned around I knew…”

She tossed her hand in the air, quickly snapping her wrist back, her pointer finger angled towards the stage:

“… he is about to perform.”

I laughed and wondered exactly what I just did:

Why do I always take things to the tenth power?

I retreated into the lobby for the dance portion, and finally found myself in my truck maneuvering through the streets, singing Laura’s anthem, and hoping to receive a call the next day.

The Next Day

Somehow I lost all thoughts of a callback. It wasn’t until Daniel S. texted me that I realized that my phone was mute the entire day. He had gotten calls for the two characters he wished to play; however, I was not afforded the same courtesy. I thought:

Hmmm, maybe I am just not Wonka material.

Oddly enough, I was so excited to have seen members of my RENT family there to support me that all thoughts of rejection paled in comparison. It was as if I was still on a RENT high and was yet to be brought down.

I moved through the day, half hoping it to be a fluke and half realizing that RENT would be a hard show to top.

I was grateful to had performed another RENT song one last time.

Day Two

The callback buzz was growing. My e-mail was blown up with anticipation and my phone continued to vibrate speaking of the upcoming callback rodeo.

I brushed all sullen feelings away and baked in the joy of others enjoying my audition.

I was fine.

It was okay that I didn’t get the coveted callback, although I harbored a few concerns:

Did she hate my censorship? Did I break a rule? Did she see me check my phone when I got a text message?

The director was adamant that any interruptions or rude behavior would result in an automatic dismissal. Furthermore:

Were they mad I didn’t smile during my dance. I did all the moves right, I just had to concentrate because the people next to me were inches away from kicking me. I tripped over a few at times.

I laughed my worries away and continued forth, thanking people for their concern for my feelings.

Will –I – Wonka?

I guess not!

Day 3

I went to bed around 10:30 am. I awoke at 1:21pm. I checked my phone:

“Quick. You have to contact…”

Matt C. (music director from RENT) had sent me a message telling me to contact the producer of Willy Wonka. Apparently there had been a mix-up.

My audition card had been lost. In discovering that I was somewhere floating in a sea of oblivion the people of Wonka contacted Matt C. From there, he gave them my e-mail address; however, somehow, in his verbal recitation, my address was written wrong.

At 1:38 pm, I e-mailed the producer. I received a sincere response from the Wonka director apologizing for the mix-up. And after a slew of e-mails and the forwarding of audition materials for the callbacks, it was nearing 2:30pm and the callback lingered just four hours away.

I downloaded the material – two songs and about seven scenes – and ran into a road block:

I don’t know these songs.

I grabbed my phone, in desperation, and called the only person I felt could help me. I dialed Matt C.:

“I’m sorry to bother you, but I have no idea what to do. I don’t know these songs and what is the best way to learn them.”

His voice was jovial:

“You aren’t bothering me. But your best bet is to try and pound it out on the piano.”

I nervously smirked, thinking:

I have been here before. During RENT when I could not find my harmony, I banged on the Piano trying to discover my notes from memory, penciling the letters on the keys.

I smiled:

I now have stickers on them.

Matt C. continued:

“Do you know how to count music?”

My heart pounded. It was something I remembered from my younger years in band:


We shared a few more words and I danced in excitement. Then reality hit me:

I haven’t seen this movie since I was about six. How does Wonka even act?

I spoke of my dilemma with my mother. She called my aunt. Soon we were tearing through the basement trying to find the Wonka original. Although Johnny Depp is my favorite actor, I skipped trying to resurrect his performance. After seeing his portrayal as Wonka, five minutes into his rendition I felt candy-coated in creepy. I never made it through the movie.

Our search was in vain. My mother made a suggestion:

”Find it On Demand.”

I protested:

“It will cost money.”

She retorted:

”So, just find it!”

We found it, purchased it and I sat at the computer printing out my scenes hoping to follow along.


The play, of course, was vastly different from the movie. And too anxious to sit and watch the cinematic version, I found myself fast forwarding through the entire picture wondering exactly what I was getting myself into:

This movie is kind of unbearable. I hope the play is better!

I found myself back online conversing with Matt B. (dark-haired dude). He sent me a sing-a-long link to one of the songs and I found a video sent by Laura M.

My RENT family really had my back. I smiled at being able to actually see that I could count on them. We truly did love each other.

I pounded out the song as best I could, fumbled over a few notes and found myself in my truck heading into uncertainty.

Callback Experience

I walked into the theatre and froze:

They have already started.

I checked my phone:

It’s 6:30pm. Am I late?

A young boy interrupted my confusion:

”People who are auditioning for Wonka are down there.”

I looked at him, smiled and burst back through the doors. I grabbed my cell phone and dialed Laura M:

“Where the Heck are you?”

She chuckled:

“I’ll be there in five minutes.”

I replied:

“I’ll be waiting outside.”

I found her walking across the street with her son nearby. I smiled. I loved seeing her as a mother. The contrast between an overly flirtatious lesbian (her RENT character) to a loving caring mother was astounding. She played both parts well. We found our way into the theatre and the auditions commenced.

Laura’s son was amazing. From the few clips I saw of the movie, he was Charlie all over. I felt as if I were watching a younger sibling, an extension of the RENT family. Then my turn came about.

The three Wonka candidates were to sing the song Pure Imagination. I walked to the stage, music in hand and waited at the piano. We received instructions:

“We are going to change a few things. It’s not going to be like the movie.”

I mentally tossed my hands into the air:

Oh great! Not only do I have a feeble grasp on the song, now I have to unlearn what I have learned and relearn something completely different. Yup, someone hit me with the idiot bucket.

She continued:

“We are going to sing it together first.”


It was RENT all over again. The only thing that was missing was the dark-haired dude to copy off of. I kept my face buried in my music and made it through the song.

Wonka number 1 went first.

He began. He started in low and his voice started to grow. My mind twanged:

We have another one song glory on our hands (Brendan S.).

However, oddly enough, for some reason, I wasn’t at all intimidated.

I didn’t want to rush towards the door and toss my hands in the air. As Wonka 1 reached into his opera voice, my mind trailing to Phantom of the Opera, I sat and enjoyed his performance, thinking:

I’m not gonna do it anything like that.

That comforted me. Someway, somehow, I had lost my apprehensions. I reasoned:

They will pick what they are looking for. If that is it, so be it, but I will give them something to talk about.

And I did.

I transformed my surroundings into my own Pure Imagination. I saw things that weren’t there and brought into reality the desires of my heart. I fumbled over some words, and fixed my folly to be me shooing away a piece of my imagination that I cared not to uncover.

It was all so whimsical.

When I was done I found myself in the present and wondering exactly what I had done:

Were they able to see the images of my imagination?

I exited the stage and smiled.

From there the night transformed from one crazy moment to the next.

I found myself in the lobby with Laura M, her son and Dan S. Soon, as my back was turned, I heard what sounded like a waterfall. I froze, transferring my weight to my toes. Laura M. gasped.

I inched around to see her son hunched over expelling the contents of his stomach. I thought:

Wow, that is a lot for such a small kid. And it smells like expensive cheese.

After admiring his creation for a few seconds, I sprang into action. I grabbed towels and doused the contents. I ran back with a mop and tried to blot out the remaining fluids. Dan grabbed a bucket and water, soon following with a scented cleaner.

The family was helping one another out.

I pushed for them to leave, Laura and her sick child, only to hear a word of protest:

“I want to see Jeremy.”

Laura’s son wanted to stay and see me. My heart exploded.

I hugged him, not caring about contracting any sickness or my clothes catching lingering fluids. It didn’t matter. He afforded me a kind gesture.

Pretty soon, I was running through scenes, doing cold reads and having absolutely no idea what I was reading and/or doing. I pushed a fake cart, spoke foreign words and made a complete spectacle of myself.


It was great last minute, on the spot practice.

Finally, we found ourselves at the last scene of the night with five Charlie hopefuls alternating through three Wonka’s and two Grandpas.

I watched Wonka 1. I couldn’t help but think:

That dude is so Wonka. I believe him.

I actually enjoyed him, taking not thoughts to intimidation or jealousy:

If you’re good, you’re good!

Then it was my turn. I read the words and did whatever came to mind.

I bowed when I said goodbye and pretended to cry when Charlie had reached a revelation. I laughed, skipped, chuckled and contorted my face.

It was fun.

As I went to sit, waiting to do the scene one last time, one of the Charlie hopefuls asked for my attention. With an endearing smile on his face, he stated:

“Hey, you are my favorite Wonka, I hope you get it.”

My mouth fell open. I whispered an appreciative thank you. My heart had been touched through the innocent, genuine words of a child. And just as fortune would have it, I ended up doing the very last scene of the day with that very boy.

He smiled from ear to ear as we read together. Knowing the words he spoke to me, the ones that touched my soul, I put my all into it. I did not want to disappoint his vision. When I kneeled to cry before him, praising his reach towards a revelation, he smiled bigger.

And as we ended the scene, he tossed each other a high five and I left the building, a joy ignited in my spirit.

Will – I – Wonka?

Probably not.

Day 4

A foreign number was spread across my phone. I picked it up and handed it to my mother, proclaiming:

“I don’t know the number, but it’s probably them.”

It was.

I ran and grabbed the other phone, disabling the answering machine that was intercepting my call. A voice spoke:

”Hey Jeremy, this is the assistant director of Wonka.”

I joyously replied:


She continued:

“We would love to have you come on as a member of our adult ensemble.”

I paused, an “ahhh” sound escaping my mouth. She continued:

“It’s some big production singing and dancing, for some of the bigger numbers.”

I continued on my vocal buzz.

Finally, I rendered my answer and ended with:

“I really enjoyed auditioning with you guys too. I am not going to lie, it was really fun.”

She replied:

“Yes, we enjoyed having you.”

We hung up.

I smiled and rehashed the entire audition to callback craziness. The director told me of her e-mail folly and how another dude was actually responding to her about the callbacks. She realized it wasn’t me when the man asked what WDL stood for. (Wilmington Drama League)

I smiled again, knowing that everything happened just the way it was supposed to. At no point, would I have changed a single thing. For in all of it I learned more about myself than I knew before.

Will – I – Wonka?


But for one little boy, I had already played the part.

That is Wonka enough for me…


“This may not be my time for harvest. Honestly, Wonka could’ve been me trying to harvest someone else’s crop. For now, I will just plant seeds (patience, practice) and wait for my season to harvest my own crop.”

-What I said to Laura M. when she expressed how greatly I took not getting the part.

PS. Laura’ Son Will be in Wonka! I hope I get to see him in Action!!!