Written – 24/11/2012 – whilst on Virgin 26 to London’s Heathrow
For about 6 weeks or so now, it’s been my ambition to see my name up in lights on Broadway. I know. Me! Jammy Taylor! Broadway! It’s just crazy but who knows what can happen, especially in New York City; anything is possible…
A little bit about me, My names is James (Jammy) Taylor, don’t ask why, its just stuck, apparently there are a couple of other people out there with my name sake, so I had to coin this one for my own
Anyway, I’ve been writing about my observations and adventures now for a couple of years. I’m originally from a little island in Essex, I love to travel and seem to get myself in all sorts of situation, some good, some bad and last Summer, I made the jump and moved out to New York City, to focus on my future career of becoming an Actor….
Now I wouldn’t really say I’m a theatre buff, but I’ve seen a few of the classics, Jerry Springer the Musical, Pricilla, Fame; I was even made to sit through La Traviata once at the opening night at the Sydney Opera House, for all of what felt like 10 hours of it.
I had always seen myself more of a film actor, that was until the other week, there I was doing a bit of shopping on 5th Avenue, you know; minding my own business when I get a phone call from a top Broadway Director, asking me to come in an audition for her next play.
Never one to turn down a opportunity, I was straight back to Soho, locked myself away for a few days with the script and off I went to the audition.
I was sooo nervous, there was a queue of guys outside on the stairwell waiting to go in, all serious Theatre Actors; with proper training and experience, indeed people that could speak proper comprehendible English and then there is me, standing there in my bright orange boots and woolly hat, with my strong English accent, ‘sorry what?”, about to make this biggest jump of my life so far, this was my first Theatre audition ever! In fact that’s not true, in year 4, I once did a school play, I played one of the three wise kings. It was a big role at the time.
Anyway, where was I, so I went in and there was this panel of people all staring at me. “errmm Hi, I’m James, I’m here to audition!”
went ok, but you never can tell, I even managed to slow down and breathe a little in between sentences; it scared the life out of me, I mean if nothing else came from it, it was good experience, but really, who was I to think I could just walk straight in and mix it with the big boys anyway. I was happy about what I did, I gave it my best shot and off I trotted home back to Soho for spot of sushi.
About an hour later, just as I was woofing down a bit of salmon nigri, the phone rings.
“Hi James, we would like you to come back in a see us again” I nearly swallowed the chop stick!
Did they call the wrong number? Had Big Dave put them up to this? Was it some kind of sick joke, but no it wasn’t.
So three days later I went back in, but this time, there was no queue outside the door, it was just me…
We had a chat and I read with the Actress some of the lines, trying my hardest to speak slowly so they could understand me. All the time thinking, “WHAT THE HELL AM I DOING HERE!” I was then excused and asked to wait outside.
The wait outside on the hard wooden bench was excruciating, it felt like an hour but must of only been about 5 minutes, I had no nails left, my throat was dry, in fact I didn’t even have any phone battery, probably that was the worst thing. And then I was called back in….
They offered me the lead role! I know!
Apparently the Director fancied a bit of a challenge and in I’d walked.
And that’s where the hard work really began. In fact, in truth, I didn’t know what hard work was until I undertook this. Over the next 6 weeks, we rehearsed 12 hours a day.
In person, I very rarely shout, or get angry, unless you overtake me on a track or sit in the fast lane at 50mph or don’t say Please & Thank You or push passed me on the tube when I’m waiting patiently trying to help the old lady off first before boarding, or you try and steal my girlfriend, but other than that….
But in the play, I had to do some quite heavy stuff. They had to beat it out of me. There were tears! Yes they made me cry. There were many a day when I would wake up thinking what they hell am I doing. How the hell am I going to pull this off.
“Don’t just say the lines, Don’t pull your model face, Don’t speak too fast, feel the lines James; Feel them, don’t think! JUST DO!” All very confusing messages as you understand.
I mean on a film, if you mess it up, you can stop and start again, You have to learn 4, sometimes 5 lines of dialogue at a time, not an hour and a half and even then with theatre; this was a two hander, there was only me and the actress on stage and I was ON the whole time, there was no breaks, I couldn’t nip out for a can of coke and a quick glance at the script halfway through.
There was no safety net, I had to get it right or I would crash and burn. It wasn’t an easy thing to do if you had been acting all your life, let alone if you had only been acting since July.
Now just think about that for a second…… The consequences, being out there on stage, with how I speak, having to change everything, slowing everything down so I could be understood and articulate, all the blocking; being in the right place at right time on stage, and just for good measure ending up, on a sex scene, right there on stage in front everyone.
In front of my Mum!
Until last night finally the time came, there was no more rehearsals, no more prompting, no more room for error. It was the opening night!
As I approached the Theatre, with the lights lit up above the door, Starring James Lee Taylor. Wow!
If you had told me this two months ago, I wouldn’t of believed it. Me in a big Off Broadway production, you could actually see Broadway from my dressing room window, it was that close. You could smell it.
I can’t sing to save my life and Broadway is more that way inclined, but OFF Broadway, Yes Off Broadway is were the serious acting is. The straight acting, no signing involved! (I’m told it’s much cooler, maybe in the same way they say Brooklyn is too New York I guess)
So there we were. Plane loads of friends and family arriving into JFK, my first Agent Edward from when I was 16, my Mum, Shaun, my dancer friend, it was a star studded packed house, even the prime minister of Serbia had called the director to wish her good luck.
10 minute warning, 5 minute warning, 1 minute warning, BLACKOUT!
Sink or Swim Taylor!
I see now, why people love the theatre, the feeling as you finish and you realise you pulled it off, I didn’t even know how to bow properly, I was that new to the whole thing, but I knew then, this is me, this is what I was born to do, to be an Actor, and I just proved it! I nailed it!
I can’t explain the feeling to you, I even got over the fact I just had to have pretend sex, right there in front of my parents. I lead the show for an hour and half, I articulated, didn’t pull model face and I felt every line.
I had pulled it off, I was an Off Broadway star!
Well for about 3 hours, as just as I was saying thank you and receiving my 5th bouquet of flowers and champagne and nut free chocolates, the producer pulled me to one side to have a quite word in my ear.
The show had to stop, there would be no ten day run as first planned, as he had failed to ask the writer how he would feel about us doing his play and didn’t get the rights to do the show…
You could hear a pin drop.
There are no words……