GETTING AN AGENT AND/OR MANAGER ... continued ...
My first New York agent ...
After I had been hired by the New York producers of
Music Man, at their Los Angeles audition, I went
on-the-road, with the National Company for nine
months, doing the “Train Scene” and understudying
the baritone in the quartet (he never got sick!) The
company manager got a new job with the famed St
Louis Muny, the grand-daddy of Summer Stock
theaters, while we were playing the Schubert, in
Chicago. He came back and announced to the company,
he would be leaving, after which he drew me aside
and told me he had recommended me for Stock
Baritone–he who covers ever lead in every show, as
well as singing a part in each–for the Summer, which
was upon us. I “trained” down to St Louis and came
back the same day, with a contract in hand.
All I did all Summer long, was memorize two parts in
every show, both the lead and my part, rehearsing
the next show during the day and performing the
current show that night ... seven days a week, for
ten weeks. (The tough part was finding the time to
review constantly, the dialogue and the music, for
the lead and walking the staging.)
I did manage to sing in the dressing room hall, one
evening, when I knew that Claramae Turner, who was
doing the Countess in Song of Norway, was putting on
her makeup ... with her door open. I had sung most
of “Mattinata,” with the high G’s, before she
stepped out and said, “Was that you?” I sang two
arias for her, in a local club, that night, and she
and her manager liked what they heard. Claramae told
me she would set up an audition with the New York
City Opera, when I got to town ... and she did far
more than that. She became my champion.
Following the Muny season, I departed for New York
with about $175 dollars in my pocket and the name of
Bruce Savan, an agent given to me by Mitch Gertz,
for whom I didn’t even have to audition. Imagine
getting any agent in New York like that. Mitch was a
BIG Hollywood agent.
Bruce sent me out on several auditions, which never
panned out, while I polished my audition technique
on every chorus audition there was. I sang the
Figaro aria –Largo al factotum, with all the high
G’s–for Julius Rudel, at City Op, per Claramae
Turner’s recommendation and, although my accompanist
Carroll Hollister thought it was great, Julius just
said, “Thank you.” Hey, I was used to the Mario
Lanza movies where they hired you on the spot, if
they liked you ... so I thought the reverse.
I went to an open audition for Tamiment, PA, a
summer resort where the musical, “Once Upon a
Mattress,” was born and in turn, launched the career
of a comedian singer, Carol Burnett ... and they
hired me for the Leading Man. A few days later, the
producers of “Tenderloin,” a new Broadway show, the
audition for which , I had some how missed, called
my agent for me. I went in and found I was the only
one auditioning and, after “There But for You Go I”
... they offered me a chorus job. Because of the
job at Tamiment ... I turned it down. They couldn’t
believe I was turning down a Broadway show to honor
a commitment for which I had not yet signed a
contract. I told them they needed me and I couldn’t
renege on my promise.
My agent called me, seven weeks into the Tamiment
season–a completely original review, each week–to
tell me that City Op wanted to hear me again. I
almost didn’t go ... but I hadn’t seen my girl
friend in some time, so ...
I was kinda cavalier about the audition, thinking
they weren’t going to hire me anyway, so I went out
the night before and didn’t get to my apartment in
Brooklyn, until after 3:00 A.M. At 11:00 A.M,, I was
rehearsing with Carroll and decided that, since I
was a bit tired, to sing the Toreador aria, from
Carmen ... no high G’s. I had a time problem to get
back to Tamiment, so Julius heard only the first
verse and chorus saying, let’s hear the “Largo”
again. Oooohh man, all them high notes ... But,
since I was singing every day, they came out,
including the high A, just as Bruce walked on stage.
Julius waved me off and said to Bruce, “O K, we’ll
give him the standard contract ...”I walked out on
the street and Carroll was jumping-outta-his-skin,
saying, “You essentially got in, on your first
audition. He just wanted to hear you again.” I asked
him, why Julius hadn’t hired me, the previous Fall
and he said, “The two seasons were probably all cast
and he didn’t have anything to give you.” I wondered
why Carroll hadn’t told me that, the year before? I
had spent nine months thinking I didn’t have what it
takes, to get into City Op...
Out of curiosity ... have you gleaned anything of
consequence, from what I’ve been written, about
agents? Are you seeing a pattern here? I’ll write
one more month about managers, which is what
“agents” called when they do the same kinda work,
in the classical field ... but, with a few extra
bells and whistles, for which they charge fifteen to
twenty-five percent, instead of the agents ten!
Is anyone reading these things ... I can’t help
thinking of the song from “1776,” where John Adams
sings, “Is anybody there ... does anybody care???
I get anywhere from 25 to 60 visits a day, according
to Webstat. If you find this interesting, or wish t
make a comment, an email would be appreciated ...