GARY DE MATTEI as “MAX BIALYSTOCK” — AUDITION REEL (2009)
Some Actors will travel great lengths to land a job! Especially if it’s one of those huge roles from a Broadway blockbuster that keep our phenomenal regional theaters across the country solvent. I am one such actor. I even remodeled my apartment once to audition for a role because thanks to technology, there is now a virtual casting couch.
In 2009, when Dr. Jay Manley of the award winning Foothill Music Theater in Los Altos, CA announced they were doing The Producers, I let him know I was interested in the role of Max Bialystock. I had worked with Jay throughout the late 1980’s and early 90’s and as directors go, I consider him to be one of the best in the business. Jay had cast me as Joe Josephson in Merrily We Roll Along; Guido Contini in Nine; Fiorello H. Laguardia in Fiorello; and Alfred P. Dolittle in My Fair Lady; and so he was very familiar with my work. But, that was almost 20 years ago so naturally he wanted to see what kind of shape I was in today. And for me living in New York, there was an obvious distance problem which made it impossible for me to get to his auditions. Never the less, I was relentless and determined to be considered so I asked him if I could send him an audition reel and to my delight, he said, “Sure”, as long as I understood that he could only consider my reel after he had auditions and callbacks in California. I let him know that I completely understood and that I knew not to get my hopes up because he was probably going to be seeing every character actor in the Bay Area for Max and whether I received the role or not, I was looking forward to seeing him in New York in April when he was going to be out here on business.
Then I went to work remodeling my apartment in order to build a sound stage which consisted of rearranging the furniture and taking a blanket off of my bed and duct taping it in the corner of where two ceiling joists meet creating a “cyclorama”. Thanks to some excellent camera equipment, several remote controls, and a wonderful karaoke track, I filmed and edited an 11 minute reel in my apartment in New York City and then Expressed Mailed a DVD to his home in Northern California for his consideration should he not find what he was looking for. He had his auditions. He had his callbacks. He watched my DVD. And I got Max.
When he came to New York in the Spring, we took some pictures of me as Max, again in my apartment against my blanket as a backdrop, so he could take them back to California for his Marketing and PR people to ‘Photoshop’ me in to the poster and publicity shots.
The following text is from a cover letter I sent to Jay to use as a guide while watching the DVD:
RE: Audition Reel Enclosed
Per our conversation, the enclosed DVD is my audition for your production of THE PRODUCERS. As I mentioned: I am campaigning vigorously for your consideration as “Max Bialystock”; therefore:
• In the “Introduction”, I give you me as I am “normally”.
• In the “Screen Test”, I give you my transformation.
• In the “King Of Old Broadway”, I give you my voice.
• In the “Channeling Max”, I give you my process.
• In the “Full Body Shot”, I give you my body.
• In the “Body In Motion”, I give you my blood.
I look forward to breaking bread with you in April.
Bless you my son,
P.S. And I’m not even religious…>:-)