Jim's Richard III Blog

What had started as a blog of Richard III rehearsal process at Cal Shakes has now evolved or devolved into a small novella. The author is petrified to change the name for fear it'll disappear, and wouldn't know what to call it anyway. Many stories are included and questions are even answered sometimes!

Monday, February 25, 2008


One of the little absurdities that occasionally happen in this business recently got tossed my way; I received a call from the casting director at Berkeley Rep, who also does casting for other projects not connected with BRT, asking me if I would be interested in auditioning for a show being done down in Monterrey; it was a large role in a 4 week workshop and included housing and a serious offer money-wise, and it was to be possibly targeted for off Broadway. The name of the piece?

Zombie Voodoo Scream Party.

No you aren't developing cataracts or retinal thingies. Zombie. Voodoo. Scream. Party. -- hereafter to be known as ZVSP. Did I audition, you ask? You bet your ass I did. How could I NOT? How could you not audition for something with a name like that?

I was given my "sides"--the dialogue that they wanted me to read--but not given a full script. The characters name was Cosgrove -- a self-described former Archaeologist who had been working in Egypt many years ago where he was cursed by demons who stole his soul (causing amnesia), then forced him into a ghouls body, instilling in him a deep hatred of all monsters and demons and a seething desire for capture and revenge. In a nutshell.

He appeared to be the Master of Ceremonies for the evenings entertainment, which included exhibiting such monsters and spooks as Madame Draculina, Babyhead, The Hitchhiker and a host of Ghoulish others, all in cages of unusual strength and protected by "de-naturizer" units-- utterly safe --unless of course there was a power failure and said cages failed in their function. I somehow got the feeling that those suckers were going to have problems.

I was also requested that I have at least one song prepared. A rock and roll song.........................
Now, I am not a singer but I do know a lot of Rock and Roll, AND I do (if I do say so myself) a wicked Tom Waites impression. So I went through some of my faves and picked a few. Mustang Sally (the Commitments version) being at the top of my list, and Just a Gigolo (I thought the refrain "cause I ain't got no-body" might get a laugh, and did.) for my top two oddball choices.

I had a lot of fun at home being silly, finding a "voice" for the character, making goofy choices, laughing at myself, and alarming my neighbors and their dogs. Now for those of you who've never worked with me I'll tell you that I'm an admitted Comedy Slut, a shameless hussy proud of his cheap tricks and lifestyle. But though slut in spirit I faced long ago the actors reality that I actually look more like a King, a Cop, a Doctor, a Marine, a Businessman, or a Nazi. There being precious little comedic opportunities in roles of that nature, I long ago wistfully relegated myself to the position of straight man in any comedy duo, locked my slut up and threw away the key.

But ZVSP called to me with a Siren Song............... There must have been a "power failure" since every sluttish part of me seemed to burst from its cage in unison and I pretty much pegged the needle on the Overthetopometer. I had a great time, they seemed to thoroughly enjoy the audition. We'll see what happens.

King Lear, Prospero, Hamlet, Henry V--these are all shows that most actors will get a chance to do at sometime in their lives; What are the odds for a ZVSP?

Once in a lifetime.