The Amateur Actors of Orange County

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Abby's first audition after turning "amateur".

Chapter 3 (v.1) - Don't Mention the word Halibut

Submitted: August 05, 2016

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Submitted: August 05, 2016



Her first audition after turning amateur:

“Before for we begin Miss Shields, may I call you Abby?”  asked a very elated and excited Darla Lankershim, interrupting herself at the same time. 

Crap she knows who I am, thought a very disappointed Abby Shields, just before her Thursday night audition for the Drama Time Playhouse’s revival of “Little Women, the Broadway Musical”.  This was her first audition after she ended her professional career in acting and embarked on her brand new career, in amateur acting. 

She had just, 20 minutes prior, arrived at the playhouse wearing sunglasses, even though it was dark outside and donning a new hair style, in an attempt to change her basic appearance so she would not be recognized.  When she filled out a short application on a clipboard handed to her by one of Darla’s lobby assistants, she put down her name as “A.B. Shields”, not “Abby Shields”, in a vain attempt to further obscure her identity.  She figured she had a reasonably good chance to tryout as a complete unknown; she was only semi famous, no where near Marilyn Monroe famous; in fact, not even approaching Scott Baio famous; which was just as well, because she wanted to be judged just like any other actress at the audition.  She wanted to win the part of Marmee in the musical based solely on her talent.  Not on her now defunct professional reputation. 

Unfortunately, the lady producer/director sitting before her had to ruin everything by being cognizant of her identity.  Abby had hoped, against all hope, that someone connected with the amateur stage would not have any interest and/or knowledge of primetime television celebrity; hoping that such a person would be too busy to watch television on week nights in the first place.  Unfortunately, this was not to be the case with Darla Lankershim.  Darla not only knew immediately who Abby was, despite her not so clever disguise, she was a fan.  Crap, Abby thought again to herself.

“By the way”, beamed Darla, “I am such a huge fan of ‘Fortress’”.

“Really?  How disappointing is that”, mumbled Abby under her breath, while she stood on the small stage before Darla.

“I’m sorry; I didn’t catch what you just said.  The acoustics in here are terrible.  This place really forces an actor to develop his or her projection skills”, complained Darla.  The acoustics weren’t top notch at the Drama Time Playhouse, but not that terrible.  She actually heard what Abby had mumbled and was just pretending not to. 

“My bad.  TV actor.  We’re trained to actually keep our voices down”.

“Well, we’ll soon unlearn you out of that technique”, beamed Darla with a very broad smile.

“I assume you mean if I win the part?”

“Abby, I’m prepared to offer you any part you want in the show right now on the spot.  Unfortunately, it being community theatre, we won’t be able to pay you anything.  I take it you wish to perform here on an Equity waiver?”

“Lets see if you really want me first, before we cross that bridge.  With all due respect, this was not what I was hoping to hear from you”.

“What were you hoping to hear from me?  You don’t want to be in the show?”

“No ma’am, that’s not the problem.  I want very much to be in the show, but..”

“Call me Darla”.

“Yes, Darla.  I want to be in the show.  But quite frankly, I am rather disappointed that you already know who I am.  Believe it, or not, most people on the planet do not know me from Eve.  Usually only avid primetime television viewers know who I am, unless they are fans of one of the other network shows in our time slot.  So that being the case, I’m known only in certain circles.  And I was hoping that this wasn’t going to be one of those circles”. 

“You have nearly half a million followers on Twitter.  I’m one of them”.

“Oh, dear”, now sighed Abby. “Yes I have half a million followers on Twitter out of how many billions that aren’t following me?”

“So you prefer a certain anonymity?  That would explain your sunglasses and is that a new hair style?”

“Yes, I’m cutting my hair shorter now that my show has been cancelled.  It’s surprising what a difference a new hair cut can make to your basic appearance”.

“Just out of curiosity, were you planning to audition wearing those sunglasses to further conceal your identity?”

“No ma’am”, she answered while removing her glasses, revealing her large, dark, brown eyes.  “I was going to take them off when my audition commenced in earnest”. 

“Remember, my name is Darla.  By the way, you have an absolutely beautiful face young lady; a terrible shame to conceal it behind sunglasses”.

“Not if you’re being stalked, it is Ma’am”.

“Are you being stalked?”

“Not at the moment, thanks partly to my handy dandy disguises and my driver who is very good at taking evasive maneuvers.  He can spot a tail a mile off”. 

“Then you are being stalked sometimes, as in frequently?” now asked Darla, trying not to show her alarm.

"They’re not called 'The Stalkerrazzi’ for nothing ma’am”.

“Oh, yes of course.  Once again my name is Darla”.


“Well, let’s hope they don’t have the gas money to stalk you all the way out here, in Orange County”.

“One can only hope. Thank you for the compliment about my looks, but can I act and sing?  That’s the question you should be asking yourself”.

“I already know you can act.  I am a fan remember, and if I am not mistaken, I saw an episode on ‘Fortress’ where you were actually singing a few bars from a popular song”.

“Was I singing good enough to carry a Broadway musical revival?”

“Good enough to perform on the amateur stage here in Orange County, I shouldn’t wonder”, now mused Darla, while putting on her reading glasses to look over Abby’s résumé. “Oh, this is interesting.  I’m looking at your bio and you list a Fullerton address”.

“Yes, I would appreciate you keeping that very confidential for the time being.  I was born in the City of Orange, however.  I’ve just moved back to Fullerton from Beverly Hills.  I used to live in Fullerton when I was a teenager”.

“I did not know that.  Did you go to Fullerton High School?”

“Yes ma’am, four years.  Are you a local too?”

“Again, remember my name is Darla”, she again reminded. 


“Yes, I lived in Placentia.  I graduated from Valencia HS”.

“Anyway, getting back to my original point; and thank you very much for your following me on Twitter.  However, just between you and me, I wish you were not a fan of the show.  In fact, I wish you didn’t even know who I was”.

“Tell me again, why?”

“I wanted my audition to be judged solely on its own merit.  Not on whom I am, or was, on television”.

“You don’t want your prior acting experience on television to be considered.  If that is so, that explains why there is nothing in your résumé that reflects your professional experience.  If I didn’t happen to know who you were, I would suspect, based on what I am reading off your bio, that you are an amateur who hasn’t acted in anything since you left Fullerton College seventeen years ago.  Not someone who has been continually working as a professional since then”.

“Yes Darla.  That was the plan”.

“Okay”, acquiesced Darla, “let’s see how well you can sing a show tune”.

Twenty minutes later:

“Well, now that we have established, that which we both already knew”, proclaimed Darla Lankershim, “that you can both sing and act.  Which character do you think that you would like to portray in the show?  You are right for every sister, except the Amy March role”.

“I was thinking that I was too old to play any of the sisters.  I was more or less thinking along the lines of playing the mother”.

“Marmee?” puzzled Darla.

“Yes, I’m 38 years old, too old to play any of the sisters, at least in the first act before they grow older”.

“You are a very young 38.  Perhaps you are being a little too hard on yourself”.

“I prefer the term ‘realistic’”.

“This is not primetime TV.  We don’t do ‘realistic’ that much here.  Trust me when I say this, you’ll be surprised how willing our audiences are to suspend their imaginations in this regard.  And trust me again when I say this once more, and not to flatter you either; you are a very young 38.  May I suggest that you play Jo?  She’s the second oldest of the four and the main character”.

“Well, since the audience imagination suspension is so easily accomplished here, why not Beth then?”

“Jo is a much bigger part, why Beth?”

“I love her duet with Mr. Laurence, ‘Off to Massachusetts’”.

“I do too.  Beth it is then and let it be known, far and wide, that this decision was made and decided solely on the merits of your audition”, only half lied Darla Landershim, as she knew quite well that having Abby Shields in the show would sell tickets like hot cakes. 

“No need for a call back?” now asked Abby.

“No need for a call back.  We will begin rehearsals next Monday night, here at 7 PM, sharp”.

One hour later:

“Who’s next on the list?” asked Darla Lankershim of her assistant director, Lonny Balou.

“I can’t believe it”, exclaimed Lonny, without answering her question.

“You can’t believe what?”

“Off Book Rook.  It’s still summer, why would he be looking for a part in early September?”

“Maybe the tides aren’t right for the Halibut in early September?  He must be auditioning for Mr. Laurence, correct?”

“Yep.  I wonder how those two will be interacting with each other in their duet ‘Off to Massachusetts?’ Hope she likes to clean Halibut?” posed Lonny Balou in regards to Abby Shields, who had left an hour earlier, after landing the role of Beth.

“The mind boggles”, mused Darla Lankershim. 

“Are you going to make him go through the formality of an audition?”

“No, he knows the part”.

“Have you directed him in Little Women before?”

“No, but he wouldn’t be here, if he didn’t know it already, inside and out.  He hates sight reading cold.  On top of that, there’s that steel trap, freak of nature, memory of his.  Don’t repeat anything I just told you, to him, or to anyone”.

“Repeat what?”

“Exactly, now go out into the lobby and whisper into his ear, without alerting anyone else within earshot, that he has the part.  Be sure to tell him to keep that little tidbit under his hat.  Oh, also tell him that he is to report back here on Monday night for the first read through. And most importantly, when you are talking to him and this goes for anytime you are talking to him, be sure to avoid the topic of ‘fishing’, any kind of fishing; especially Halibut fishing.  Don’t even get him started by asking him the following question, ‘How’s the Halibut fishing?’ Trust me you will regret it dearly if you do so”.

“Understood”, answered her assistant director with a nod. 

“One more caution.  If you ever need him to do a really big favor, and someday you probably will; don’t ever offer to drive him to the pier as payment for said favor”. 

“Understood and I will absolutely draw a line in the sand when it comes to cleaning fish”. 

“Now go tell him he has the part.  Hopefully, if you play your cards right, you’ll then be able to get him to leave quietly”.

“So you have said, so shall it be done”, responded Lonny, as he left the audience section of the house, to fulfill that exact responsibility. 

After Lonny left the house, Darla craned her neck backward to ask the sound tech if he could search on Google to see if the Halibut would be running off the coast of Southern California anytime soon, hoping in her heart of hearts that they wouldn’t be.










© Copyright 2018 Jim Pack. All rights reserved.


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