The Director’s In the Room: EPAs and Why They Need to Be Taken More Seriously.

It’s a rare moment when the director, composer, and actual casting director are in the room during auditions. It’s even more rare that those three people would show up to an open call. The other day, friends of mine auditioned for the Broadway bound musical, It Shoulda Been You. At the EPA (Equity Principal Auditions), an open call for members of the Actors’ Equity Association, it is unusual for there to be anyone else in the room but an assistant of the casting director, or their associate. There’s something to be said for the fact that Tara Rubin herself attended the EPA, along with director and well-respected actor, David Hyde Pierce. 

At EPAs, I’ve  found myself auditioning more times than not for an associate or assistant of the casting director listed in the details for the call. Sometimes, it’s an intern. Every once in a while, it’s the actual casting director.The shift that took place last week was a great one. Having David Hyde Pierce and Tara Rubin in the room gave more validation to the process of open calls.

As actors, we put a lot of pressure on ourselves. There seems to be a laid back and lax attitude towards open calls by casting and theater professionals. I’ve walked into rooms where the person behind the table seems to be completely checked out. I’ve had someone talking on the phone as I was auditioning, texting, or frankly, not paying attention. Whether it’s my fault or not, I don’t know. All I know is that I’m nervous, and I want to do a good job and make an impression. I want to get a callback. I want to show off what I can do, because I love to act. I want a moment to show what I have to offer. But they forget that we are professionals too.  Because EPAs are open calls, anyone who is a member of the union can show up for an appointment. It doesn’t mean that we are any less talented than those who have appointments through agents or are called in by casting people themselves. 

The process of EPAs is something that needs to have more weight. They need to be just as important as being called into the casting office. We need to be able to have respect for each other as actors. Casting professionals, directors and theaters need to have respect for actors and for our audition process too. We respect you when you respect us. It goes hand in hand. We are all nervous: Casting director, actor, accompanist. As actors, we put ourselves on the line everyday. We hear “No” everyday. We just want a chance to get in the room. EPAs are our chance to open doors. Thank You David Hyde Pierce and Tara Rubin for showing up and respecting actors. We are grateful for your support. Thank You for letting us know that open calls matter–that you were in the room too. 

Tony Awards 2013 Nominations Announced: Which Film/TV Actor Has a Chance at a Theater Award?

Jessica Hecht and 2013 Tony nominee, Judith Light, in “The Assembled Parties”

The nominations for the 67th Annual Tony Awards were announced this morning by Broadway veterans Sutton Foster (ABC Family’s Bunheads) and Jessie Tyler Ferguson (ABC’s Modern Family.) Among the nominees are your standard theater performers, who have yet to make themselves known to a wider audience, but there are a lot of familiar faces from television and film as well. The late Nora Ephron received a posthumous nomination for penning the play, Lucky Guy, which stars fellow nominee Tom Hanks (who starred in Ephron’s films Sleepless in Seattle & You’ve Got Mail.) Broadway and film vets Nathan Lane, Tracy Letts, David Hyde Pierce, and Tom Sturridge vie for top honors along with Hanks in the Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play category. In my humble opinion, Alan Cumming was snubbed for his tour de force performance in Macbeth.

For Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play, television and film veterans fill a category where it’s clear they all started in the theater. It includes the stellar works of Laurie Metcalf (The Other Place) Amy Morton (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?) Kristine Nielsen (Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike) and Cicely Tyson (A Trip to Bountiful.) The thing that I find most interesting about this category is the fact that Jessica Chastain was snubbed for her Broadway debut in The Heiress.

The most fun however, will come with the featured actors in plays (both male and female categories.) For the male category, it includes: Danny Burstein, Golden Boy, Richard Kind, The Big Knife, Billy Magnussen, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, Tony Shalhoub, Golden Boy and Courtney B. Vance, Lucky Guy.  They are all theater veterans and well-known in television and film as well. For the female category it’s the battle of the Judiths with both Judith Light and Judith Ivey getting nominations. Carrie Coon, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Shalita Grant, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, Judith Ivey, The Heiress, Judith Light, The Assembled Parties and Condola Rashad, The Trip to Bountiful.

It will be interesting to see who wins in these categories considering most of them do theater, film and television. For a complete list of nominations you can go here.

Stream ‘n Screen: “The Perfect Host” (2010)

There are some movies that are just better when seen in the comfort of your own home. If it sucks, you can turn it off. If you’re scared, you can hide under your covers. And if it’s great, you can watch it all over again.  Netflix is a great way to discover old, new, and interesting films. Whether they are sent to you or you watch them on streaming, it s a great resource to have as an actor and an audience member.

Years of playing one of the most famous psychiatrists on television may have helped David Hyde Pierce play a mentally unstable police lieutenant in writer/director Nick Tomnay’s 2010 film, The Perfect Host, which is currently available to stream on Netflix.

It’s a film with a simple theme: Appearances can be deceiving. It’s low budget, and at times, sparse (both in appearance and substance of story.) It takes a person with a certain sense of dark humor to really appreciate the film for all it’s worth.  The initial  boredom is quickly squashed by pure thrill factors that can confuse the audience; but it’s the type of movie that a person has to sit all the way through in order to understand what just happened on screen.

David Hyde Pierce carries this film using his innate ability to play the seemingly nice, upper-crust, intelligent characters. It might be something about his vocal quality that makes him so well cast in those roles. On the other end of the spectrum is Clayne Crawford, known for various guest appearances on everything from CSI to 24. Crawford, who reminded me immediately of Shane West, Channing Tatum, and every other pretty-boy actor out there, does well as the career criminal out to scam David Hyde Pierce.

What I find most interesting about Crawford as an actor, is that there seem to be so many others out there who I could have swapped in for this role and not have known the difference (especially physically.) Reasons like that are why David Hyde Pierce seems to be left bearing the acting burden in the film. Crawford, along with many other “leading man” “career criminal” and “bad boy” types, is subjected to something that we all face within the industry. Type-casting. All you have to do is put a tough looking guy in a black t-shirt, slap some hair gel on his head, give him some combat boots and BOOM!: you have your villain.

The interesting parts of the film come from David Hyde Pierce; simply due to the fact that his character was a unique one. A schizophrenic police officer who is still on the job and his colleagues aren’t aware he’s mentally ill, makes for an interesting story. You can forgive the violence and the gore simply due to the fact that the main character is off his rocker. As a viewer, you know that if he were played as a sane police professional, none of the exciting plot points would happen and the film would just fall flat. The film is thrilling; at moments, terrifying. I found myself wondering what I would do if I found myself stuck in the house with a delusional host and I’d get out alive. It’s one of those movies that if I reveal too much before you’ve seen it, the fun is over.  I’m inviting you to a party that’s available to view on Netflix, to RSVP all you have to do is hit ” play. “