The fall of 2000 I was called by the director of Sinclair College, asking if I would consider auditioning for Into The Woods, a delightfully dark musical by Stephen Sondheim. This musical brings together all the characters from beloved fairy tales and proves, in the end, to be the ending to the fairy tales. What a wonderful show!
I agreed to do the show, thinking I would be cast as the Baker, a wonderful role. When I walked in for the call-back auditions I sat down next to this attractive couple. She quickly introduced her self. “Hello, I am Sue McDonald, and this is my husband, Brody.” Dear Lord – it was the Kettering High School choral director who was known for having such a fantastic voice. I quickly scanned the room and discovered he and I, though about seven years apart in age, were about the only ones in the same age category. I knew there was no way I could compete against Brody – he was 6′-5″, dakr headed, handsome, a tremendous personality… I suddenly felt small. I also did not wish to have others see me flounder in an audition, especially with my solid career as a performer and director as hovering over me.
I was pulled from my thoughts as Sue continued talking. I did not realize, until we were well into the production, that Brody was on the other side commenting on my resonant speaking voice and also worried about me as his competition.
The auditions continued and finally, twelve men were called up for the two princes, Brody and my self included. I figured this was just a courtesy on the director’s part as the other en actors were young, princely looking individuals. He divided us into two groups of six and had us go down the line, singing with someone from the other group. Having completed that, we were dismissed to our seats.
“Just a minute… may I see Darin and Brody sing “Agony” together?” asked the director.
Brody and I looked at one another and smiled. I asked Brody how he was at comedic timing and he said, “Let’s rock.” And rock we did. It was the first time in all my years of directing and performing that I ever witnessed a standing ovation in a call back audition. As Brody and I returned to our seats I said, “We are the princes.” He asked if I was sure, and I reminded him we had a room full of witnesses.
Although I do not enjoy performing any more, I must say that was one of the best experiences of my performing career. I had performed 28 productions as “Joseph” in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and a host of other musical leads, but this one was my most favorite. Brody and I had a blast in rehearsals and out of rehearsals. While burning up the stage, we were also becoming devoted friends. What a wonderful experience.
Opening night, the conductor decided to toy with tempos during our first “Agony.” Back in the dressing room, I ripped off my body mic from my temple and tossed it back over my shoulder and leaned over to Brody. “Was he conducting with a corn cob shoved up his ass?” Brody and I proceeded to moan and complain, furious that the conductor would depart from something too solid. Suddenly, the director burst through the door.
“Brody! Your body mic was still and it went all through the house!”
Brody was mortified that the audience had heard all he had said. I sat back, relieved that for once, I had remembered to take off my own mic after several embarrassing experiences… “Oh, no! I sat up and looked at Brody. It occured to me that I had been leaning over and talking directly into Brody’s mic.
The next evening’s vocal warm-ups were almost hilarious. The conductor warmed us up, conducting with the ear of corn, a prop used in the show.
Each performance, our work became tighter and tighter. The last four or five shows, Brody and I were stealing the show – as most princes do in this production – but we were getting standing ovations after our songs. It was a wonderful experience. Finally, the show came to a close and I was so sad to see it end. My run as a prince was finally over…