There are few things in life of which Teddy Sharpe is absolutely certain, and he’s absolutely certain this audition is going to be a train wreck.
At least, that’s what’s running through his head when he bursts through the front doors of one of LA’s fanciest office buildings, scaring the receptionist and a security guard half to death along the way. Teddy’s had to run into last-minute auditions before, yeah, but never one he learned about an hour ahead of time. Never one he’s had to go into completely blind because he hasn’t seen the script yet. And never one that could launch his acting career into the stratosphere. He’s a little on edge.
“You said you’re here for the Parachutes auditions?” the receptionist asks, pulling her hand away from the button that releases the lobby’s turnstile to smooth her hair. She looks unnervingly like Jennifer Coolidge. “Call times for those auditions started at seven a.m. I’m sorry, I can’t let you up if you missed—”
“I just got the call from the casting director an hour ago,” Teddy rushes out, a little out of breath and holding up his phone. It doesn’t help that he came straight here from an early morning shoot for his TV show. He’s been awake since midnight and probably looks as cracked out on caffeine as he sounds. “She said if I got here by nine, I could have the last slot of the day.”
The receptionist looks unconvinced. “That’s not how things are run—”
“I know,” Teddy cuts her off again, then tries to cushion it with a smile. He gives her both the casting director’s and the director’s names. “My booking agent’s been trying to schedule an audition time for me all week. We just confirmed it this morning.”
“Let me see if I have a note about it. Just a moment,” the receptionist says, typing something into her computer. Teddy checks the time on his phone, sees 8:56 a.m., and starts to panic all over again. He rubs a hand over his jaw and makes eye contact with the security guard sitting at the desk on the other end of the turnstile.
“I’m not seeing anything,” the receptionist says slowly.
“Is there any way you could call up there? Tell them that Teddy Sharpe is here? They know I’m coming,” Teddy tries one last time, subtly reaching around to unstick his T-shirt from his back. At least the Testing Wyatt stylist dressed him in mostly black this morning. Teddy’s been stress sweating since his manager, Rita, picked him up from set and rushed him across LA to make it here on time.
“I’m sorry, sir, but auditions are still going on. I can’t call to interrupt. This is why we have the call times policy—”
But see, the thing is, Teddy knows about policy.
He also knows he’s been waiting for a shot like this for two years. So instead of listening to whatever boilerplate technicality she’s going to pitch next, Teddy backs up from the desk, gets a running start, and vaults over the lobby’s turnstile, earning himself a startled shriek from the receptionist as he sails by.
“Sorry!” Teddy yells over his shoulder. The security guard scrambles after him, sending an office phone clattering to the ground behind him, and Teddy definitely doesn’t have time to wait for the elevators now. His foot slips out from under him on the marble floor as he bolts right, barely catching himself before slamming into the concrete stairwell.
So here Teddy is, sleep deprived and soaked in sweat, taking the stairs two at a time to get to the most important audition of his career with the building’s security guard chasing after him. This is not the way he anticipated his day going.
The security guard is wheezing behind him in the stairwell, but Teddy’s got him by at least two floors now. His legs, however, might give out before he makes it to the eighth floor, and every time he grabs the railing to swing himself around on a landing, the palm of his hand keeps less and less traction to curb his momentum. Finally his hand slips and he almost goes face-first into a door with a large number six painted on it. Luckily his shoulder is there to break the impact.
The eighth-floor door comes into Teddy’s line of vision and he makes it up the last flight of stairs in three strides. He spills out into a long, carpeted hallway with a dozen doors on each side. His audition is supposed to be in the eighth-floor conference room, and Teddy checks the plaque next to each door as he sprints by. He comes to another hallway running perpendicular and makes a snap decision to go left, sucking wind and silently praying he made the right call. This hallway leads to several sitting areas and a couple of rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows.
“Excuse me, sir?” someone calls out. Teddy whips around.
Christ, it’s another receptionist.
“Yes, hi, I’m, uh—” He takes a deep breath in. “I’m Teddy Sharpe. I’m the last scheduled Parachutes audition today?”
The woman smiles warmly at him from behind her desk. “Great, they’re expecting you. The audition before yours just ended, so you can head straight in. The conference room is the last door at the end of that hallway,” she says, pointing to Teddy’s left.
“Awesome, thank you,” he says, like his lungs aren’t about to implode. Why the hell couldn’t it have been that easy eight flights of stairs ago?
Teddy checks his phone again as he breaks into a speed walk back down the hallway. With how fast everything happened in the past hour, he didn’t exactly have time to dwell on what this audition could mean for him, so of course now is when his brain chooses to fully register the gravity of the situation. Waves of nerves hit him hard the closer he gets to the conference room.
This is big.
No—this is huge. And Teddy is hyperaware of how unprepared he is when he knocks twice, then twists the doorknob after someone on the other side calls to come in.
There are three people sitting behind a table in the middle of the room, a camera operator set up next to them—which is standard. There’s also a small group of people sitting in the back corner—which is not standard. When Teddy walks over to the table to introduce himself and get his script, he’s unsure if he should introduce himself to the group in the back as well.
“There’s a red dash next to the monologue on page seventeen we’d like you to read,” the casting director tells him.
First rule of auditioning: Don’t waste any time, under any circumstances.
Teddy walks to his blocking position in front of the camera.
“Awesome—thanks so much for scheduling me. I’m Teddy Sharpe, auditioning for the role of Jack O’Heinessey,” he says, and oh, dear God, please let that be the way the name is pronounced. No one corrects him, so he puts on his most charming smile, pretends like he has the slightest idea about the character he’s auditioning for, and … points a thumb back over his shoulder and says, “I’m sorry, but just as a heads-up—a security guard might bust through that door in a second.”
* * *
“Seriously, this could be your Hun ger Games, Ted,” Rita says for the third time since picking him up from the audition. She’s driving Teddy back to the Testing Wyatt set to pick up his car and has spent the majority of the trip giving him another rundown on how crucial this could be for his career. “How are you feeling about it? Do you think it went well?”
“Sure,” Teddy lies. He sits up straighter in the passenger’s seat of her fancy sports car and doesn’t mention that the audition happened so fast, the only thing he remembers is not feeling good about it on his way out.
“Come on, Ted! You gotta give me more than that.”
Teddy glances over. Rita’s been his manager since before he landed his Testing Wyatt gig three years ago, back when her hair was dark brown instead of platinum blond and when Teddy never went into auditions unprepared. Rita’s one of the main reasons Teddy is where he is right now, and even though he can’t stand lying to her, he doesn’t have the heart to tell her he blew the audition she and his booking agent worked so hard to get him.
“No, I mean—you know how it goes,” Teddy skirts, rubbing his hands over his jeans. He still hasn’t stopped sweating. “They had me read a two-minute monologue, then I read a scene with one of the PAs.… Then they had me do some improv.”
“Oh, thank God—you always kill it with improv. Did they say anything before you left?”
“Not even about scheduling a second round?”
Teddy shakes his head (further evidence the audition didn’t go well), then realizes what a shitty job he’s doing of putting up a front here. “Well, they mentioned something about the audition process being a little unorthodox because of preproduction conflicts, and that if I get the role, we should hear from them soon—what’s been going on with preproduction?”
“I haven’t heard much. Just that the script initially got held up getting green-lit and that the director is eager to get the ball rolling to make up for time,” she tells him, turning into the Testing Wyatt set parking lot and pulling into the spot next to Teddy’s car. “I don’t think it’s anything to worry about, though. It happens a lot with book-to-film projects. Especially in YA.”
Teddy nods again. “I appreciate the lift today.”
“Of course.” She smiles and holds up her hands. “By the way, that receptionist thought you were on something when I came in to fill out paperwork during your audition. Did you jump over the turnstile to get to the elevators?”
“I didn’t have time to wait for the elevator,” Teddy says. “Had to take the stairs.”
Rita laughs. “That’s the commitment a manager likes to see.”
Teddy shoulders open the car door and steps out into the Los Angeles sun.
“Wait, wait, before I forget,” Rita says, reaching into the backseat and presenting him with a Barnes & Noble bag. “For your flight to Miami this afternoon. In case you’re in the mood for some light vacation reading.”
Teddy peeks inside and forces himself to smile at the hardcover copy of Parachutes at the bottom.
Copyright © 2018 by Alex Evansley