Rella Jr., Richard. “Sounds That Say Love.” Backstage 1-7 Apr. 2010: Vol. 51, No. 13

What did we all do before smart phones? There really is no greater feeling than being on set at “30 Rock” and opening my Blackberry to find emails from my manager. Apparently, I will be going in for a recurring role on HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire.” This would be my third audition since the show started filming last year.

My audition is tomorrow and I have to portray a 1920’s Philadelphian gangster. Since I got back from tour I have been steadily losing weight and currently my closet is full of suits that are all too big. The last time I needed a professional wardrobe was three years ago when I made the transition from college professor to actor. My day job for a year was as a recruiting director for Northwestern Mutual. But that was three years ago and I was forty pounds heavier. I also realize that I need a haircut. I had been growing it out for “Tony N’ Tina’s Wedding” but that will never do for this period piece. Finally, a portion of the sides need to be translated into Italian. Fortunately, my audition is not until two o’clock the next day so I have the morning to get my act together.

The next day is one of my best days of the year. I am up at six o’clock driving my wife to work and my daughter to her aunt. I go to the gym and rehearse with my father until nine o’clock. My dad was an actor for most of my youth so I always get his input before major auditions. He also helps me to brush up on my Italian. I am at the barber by nine thirty and searching for a suit at Macy’s by ten o’clock. By noon, my sister, daughter and I are driving to Manhattan. As I drive, I rehearse my lines with my sister. She too is an understudy in “Tony N’ Tina’s Wedding,” and she challenges me on several of my choices. I love doing this type of work because it helps me to stay flexible with my interpretation.

I get to the audition and I am the only one in the waiting room. I am able to breathe and get centered. I also notice that the sides for the role that I am reading for have been changed. Fortunately, I am extremely prepared so the new sides did not throw me. On the contrary, I feel very relaxed and able to roll with any direction that I am given. On the way back to the car, I send my manager a thank you email from my Blackberry and then enjoy Wendy’s with my family. All the while, my sister and wife laugh as I cringe when my daughter feeds me ketchup drenched french fries in my new suit.

Dustin Hoffman once said, “I am not in this profession to work. I am in this profession to study acting and if by happenstance I get an acting job I’ll be very thrilled.” I didn’t get the job but I am proud of the work that I am doing. I also know that I am making a good impression with this company that I admire greatly. Besides I have one great fitting suit hanging in my closet…sans ketchup.