There I was, sitting on stage for a concert of Magnificats. First row, front and center, surrounded by a chorus and hanging over an orchestra, I had nowhere to hide and nothing to do. First was an a cappella setting by Tallis that I was not singing in, and then came the Vivaldi version. That was what I was there for. I had about a page and a half to sing, 45 seconds of music in the one hour first half, (I had more to do in the C.P.E. Bach Magnificat after the intermission) and so I needed to keep my ADHD self occupied.
Scanning the audience is always a good distraction tactic. Is there anyone you know out there? Anybody being especially funny-looking? Wearing a giant hat? Sometimes it can be difficult to see the audience clearly when the house lights are down and there are bright stage lamps blasting radiance into your eye holes, but in this case we were performing in a church. There was plenty of light for me to see all of the faces out there. As the singers made musical magic, my mind moved over the crowd.
Yeah, there were a few people I knew. Nobody too crazy looking. There was Wiggly Mumbles. He comes to every concert around here, sits in the front row, and then wiggles with excitement while trying to mouth the words along with the singers. It is actually very cute, but I don’t know his name so I call him Wiggly Mumbles. And then, there he was. Robert De Niro. Sitting on the stage left side of the audience on the aisle about halfway back. Robert freaking De Niro. The actual (not actual) Robert De Niro. If I was going to cast the movie version of this audience, I would definitely cast Robert De Niro as that guy. And then I came up with the greatest audience game of all time. Forget picturing them in their underwear! I was going to cast them all in “Audience: The Movie!”
That guy was definitely Robert De Niro, and I saw Diane Keaton down over by Wiggly Mumbles. Oh! Wiggly Mumbles! Hmmmm….. I think, probably, Brian Dennehy. No, not probably. Definitely. Brian Dennehy for Wiggly Mumbles. Kate Micucci for that girl. Jeff Bridges for that guy. What about that gentleman in the back? I think he will have to be played by my friend Norman, who is not an actor but who looks just like that guy. By intermission I had cast half the audience. I would be an excellent casting agent.
One problem with trying to cast an audience at a classical music concert is that you are generally limited to actors and actresses in the “elderly” age range, since young people do not attend these types of performances. Well, okay, some of them do, but the vast majority of people I had to work with were over 65, and the vast majority of Hollywood superstars are under 28, or at least say that they are. It got to the point where I was having to cast people like “older Justin Beiber” in some of the key roles. But you work with what you’ve got. That’s the industry these days.
I didn’t play the game anymore in the 2nd half, mostly because I was too busy singing, preparing to sing, or recovering from having just sung, but I still heartily recommend it. If you are ever stuck in front of a large audience with nothing to do, or you are feeling a bit nervous, just imagine that they are all super-powerful, mega-rich celebrities. That should get rid of any of those pesky nerves!