Stephen Cerf (Jersey Boys), currently playing Zach in A Chorus Line at the Arvada Center, shared this story on his Facebook page today. We share it with you on our blog with his permission.
Exactly six years ago today, while in Whole Foods on my lunch break during the first day of rehearsal for the non-union Rock of Ages tour, I looked down at my phone to see a voicemail from a 212 number. It was strange, because my phone didn't ring. But I had been in Chelsea Studios and the reception in that building on 26th Street was spotty at best.
The last few weeks had been really crazy for me: Hurricane Irene, my Grandmother's passing and another slew of appointments and call backs for Jersey Boys, this time for a second tour they were mounting. You see, I had been going in for Jersey Boys just about every six months for the past year and a half, losing out in the final round each time. Even as I write "losing out" it's funny how inaccurate that statement actually is. I wasn't losing out, it just wasn't my turn yet. Most of the guys I spoke to while waiting to go in the room for our final callbacks had been in finals three and four times. I was learning the importance of perseverance and patience.
Back to Whole Foods. At the time I had no agent, but that morning I had been texting my friend an agent for one of the top talent agencies in NYC, who I knew had a few clients up for this production of Jersey Boys. He had been vague in his responses to my inquiries about the offers going out, which did little to boost my confidence. But now I had this voicemail staring up at me from the checkout line in Whole Foods. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't sweating as I pushed play. You would think that the fact that I had a voicemail at all would've been a good sign, but because of my lack of representation and her general awesomeness, the Jersey Boys casting guru, would notify me after each final callback with the production team's decision and a word of encouragement for next time. As her voice began to relay the news that my time had finally come and I would be receiving an offer to join the original company of Jersey Boys Tour 2, my jaw slowly began making it's way towards the floor. This didn't go unnoticed by my friend who was waiting in the checkout queue next to me, and he knew that I had just heard something big on the other end of that line.
Flash forward six years later: I've been having trouble getting out the last two lines Zach has in A Chorus Line. Every time I start to cut the dancers I don't hire I get a lump in my throat. I know it's because of what we give every time we audition, the sacrifices and struggles we make to do what we love. I also get equally choked up giving the good news to the dancers I do keep and I know it's because I can't help thinking about how I felt that day in the Whole Foods checkout line.