Josh and the City: My life as a sitcom and a Mystery-ious mix-up at Studio 54

The Mystery of Edwin Drood marquee.

The Mystery of Edwin Drood marquee.

It’s official: My life is a TV show. Not one that is carefully scripted and filled with comedic plot twists and crazy adventures, no; one that is left completely up to chance yet still manages to grasp the humor and chaos of everyday life in New York. Think The Truman Show meets Will and Grace but without the rainstorms and studio audience.

Allow me to explain.

Last week, I took part in a dance call for a New York summer stock theater following a two-part audition. I sang my 16-bar cut, performed a contemporary monologue, and partook in a “movement” call that required light dancing and high energy. I was then asked by the casting team to attend the actual dance call, during which I would learn hip-hop and tap combinations. Gulp.

I have only one word to describe the experience that was this dance call: woof. First of all, I am not, by definition, a dancer; as I tell potential employers and casting directors, I am “a singing actor with movement potential.” Sure, I have done my fair share of dancing in musicals over the years, but my technical ability in no way meets or exceeds what you would find in a Broadway production of Newsies. Regardless, I approach every dance call the same way: I do what I can and try to look like I’m having fun, just in case I make a mistake (or twelve). While learning the hip-hop number, I quickly realized that there were way too many dancers in the studio itself. Being over six feet tall, this presented a problem, as I couldn’t go “full out” without whacking someone in the face or crushing someone’s toes. Still, I stumbled along. When it was time to face away from the mirrors and perform the combination for the semi-intimidating casting team, I knew that I was going to mess up.

And mess up I did.

I won’t dwell on it, but it was not a pretty sight. Fortunately for me, I was not alone—many of us couldn’t quite get every step in at the speed the choreographer wanted. And while there is nothing more humbling than attending a dance call when you feel like you can’t dance, that doesn’t make it any less embarrassing. After the hip-hop audition ended, we learned a tap combo. For whatever reason, I picked this one up much quicker than the first. However, we learned the combo without our tap shoes and only put them on when it was time to do the routine for the panel. Double gulp.

I did better with the tap portion of the audition, but it still was not what I wanted it to be. I could sense the glares from the artistic team (who no doubt wanted all of us to succeed), but it is no surprise that I wasn’t able to deliver what I have been able to do in previous classes and shows. By the end of the dance call, I had a raging headache, was hot enough to desire eight cold bottles of water, and desperately needed food. I grabbed my dance shoes, gave a final smile to the team behind the table, and walked out of the studio as quickly as my feet could take me.

I grabbed my stuff from the holding room and went to sit by myself for a bit down the hall. I knew I needed privacy to mentally get past the atrocity that was my dance audition. I am no stranger to “picking myself up” after these calls, so after a little cool-off time had passed, I changed my clothes and went to sit in one of the lesser-populated sitting areas as I awaited two other auditions coming up that day.

Ready for the part where my life turns into a TV show?

As I’m sitting there, a door to my right opens and Cicely Tyson walks out. I do a double take. Cicely Tyson?! She walks right past me and goes into the women’s bathroom. Next come Vanessa Williams and Cuba Gooding Jr., both of whom seem eager for some lunch. I want to scream but somehow manage to take the form of a wallflower with no clue of who these people are. I realize that they must be rehearsing a play and after a quick look around, I chastise myself for not seeing The Trip to Bountiful rehearsal signs all over the room. Vanessa swiftly leaves the area to grab some lunch. One of the other cast members looks at me—I avert my gaze and act like I’m reading. Part of me wants to ask if I can take a picture with Cuba, but the other part still has a headache and doesn’t want to bother him. I keep “reading” until the cast and crew part ways and the hallway is once again empty. Then I go into the bathroom to clean myself up a bit.

Well.

I’m washing my hands when a gentleman to my right asks me how I’m doing. I turn to look at him.

It’s Cuba Gooding Jr.

And what do I say? “Oh my God.” He chuckles and continues washing his hands.

“How are you?” I ask.

He tells me that he’s doing well and is enjoying Bountiful rehearsals. We chatted for a bit and then he introduces himself to me and shakes my hand. I want to proclaim that I know exactly who he is, but I’m sure he figured that out when I delivered my non-answer to his question. Still, he is a gentleman during our entire exchange.

I couldn’t believe it. There I was, beating myself up about an unfortunate audition, when the man upstairs—or perhaps the hidden television crew secretly Punking me—decided that it was time to meet Cuba Gooding Jr. It was an epic moment that completely made my day.

But the insanity didn’t stop there.

A few days later, a very dear friend of mine texted me to ask if I wanted to see The Mystery of Edwin Drood with her that night….for free! It took about 1.25 seconds for me to text back “YES!” and start to plan the rest of my day accordingly. I hadn’t seen her in over a year and was so ridiculously excited to catch up with her that I would have jumped on the bus just to grab a cup of coffee with her. We met for drinks before the show and then made our way to the theater. The girl that provided the tickets to my friend instructed her to go to the Sondheim Theatre on 43rd Street, which we did around 7:40 PM. We arrived at the theater roughly seven minutes before curtain—more than enough time to find our seats and peruse the playbill. Yes, seven minutes seemed like plenty of time.

Until we realized that we were at the wrong theater.

I should have known when I saw the enormous Trip to Bountiful posters on the theater’s exterior. Another red flag went up when we realized that the theater was deserted. I did a quick search on my iPhone (which, let’s face it, I wouldn’t be able to live without in NYC), and found out that the musical was actually being performed at Studio 54. As in, on 54th Street.

That’s when seven minutes (now six) turned into a very real complication.

Realizing that we were 11 blocks away, we hightailed it through Times Square—and I mean hightailed it—past traffic, through crowded groups of people, and definitely around a few construction zones. We were out of breath in no time but kept switching back and forth between speed-walking and flat-out running. I was laughing most of the way, but I also couldn’t help but wonder why this craziness always seems to happen to me. Still, I knew I would look back on these moments and chuckle.

We made it to the theater in eight minutes and only missed two of the show’s opening numbers. After taking a necessary bathroom break and finding two empty seats in the balcony, we took very deep breaths, settled in, and laughed our way through the entirety of Drood. The show was spectacular and both of us geeked out every time Chita Rivera came on stage. Afterwards, we stopped at the stage door to get autographs from the cast. We were lucky enough to meet Will Chase, Stephanie J. Block, and Gregg Edelman, all of whom were very kind and willing to pose for pictures.

In fact, one of the playbills signed by the cast could be yours if you enter our Edwin Drood giveaway! (For more information, follow this link.)

At the end of the day, I could only laugh at this crazy TV-show life I seem to be living. Meeting Cuba was awesome, but seeing how kind and personable he is proved to be a nice bonus. Running through the streets of New York in an attempt to make it in time for the start of a Broadway show was nothing short of insanity, but it only added to the thrills of the evening. (And truth be told, it did feel a little like something out of a Jason Robert Brown song).

I can only wonder what the days ahead have in store for me….

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2 Responses

  1. I am finding, dear Josh, that I am becoming one of your biggest fans. My heart and all my past dreams of acting and all the fun, excitement, and hope is being officially passed on to you.

    • Thank you so much Arlene! I really appreciate your support! Being here is the opportunity of a lifetime and I can only hope that I continue having adventures! Let me know if there’s a particular topic you’d be interested in reading about on the site! :)