Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
So you wanna be in show biz.
So do a lot of other people in Washington who turned out Monday to audition for a night at the opera or a day on the radio.
Here's what they had to do: For an opera role, make like a monkey, snorting and scratching armpits, arms swinging from side to side; claw like a leopard or stand zombie-like under hot lights with imaginary rifle/fan/spear in hand.
For the radio, wait two hours for three minutes of air time, reading a paragraph or two from a script they had not seen before, sitting, standing, squatting on steps with paperbacks, candy bars and Cokes, some of them comparing unemployment checks.
First, there was the 5:30 p.m. call for "supers" at the stage door of the Kennedy Center Opera House. Twenty-five extras are needed by the New York City Opera for its two-week run beginning yesterday.
Twice that many people - old, young, tall, short - showed up.
"I love opera," said Richard Boardnan, an experienced "super" who was trying out. "This is probably the only way I'll ever participate in it."
The pay is low - from $4 to $10 per performance - and your name isn't listed in the program (unless you have a line or two) but that's entertainment.
Costumer J. Edgar Joseph, along with "super" chief Jack Sims and assistant Joe Citarella set at a card table while the extras lined up by height.
"We need a monkey and a leopard," Sims announced at one point. The women (5 feet 6 and under) lined up for the part, and each gave her name, dress and shoe size - more or less! "We cast these people to fit the costume," said Citarella. "They don't know whether to up it (the sizes) or down it."
Make like monkeys, the women were told, and they scratched and snorted, arms swaying, bent from the waist. "Good, good. A little more scratching," Sims coached. The part is for "Le Coq d' Or," and, according to Sims, "It's a nice, juicy little bit." The winner was Susan Quinn, a 36-year-old librarian.
Do the supers ever get temperamental? Sims laughs. "They are human. But supers are seen, and not heard."
Not like Monday's radio tryout, where 200 hopefuls were heard, not seen. The audition was called for 6 p.m., and by 7:30, producers of national Public Radio had heard 30 versions of Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald.
"That averages one every three minutes," said manager Betty Rogers, who said they were surprised at the turnout. "We're looking for three parts, Zelda, Scott and the narrator," said Rogers of the NPR's forthcoming production of "The World of F. Scott Fitzgerald," a radio dramatization based on eight Fitzgerald short stories.
"What number are you? I'm 154. Oh God, they'll never call me," wailed one would-be Zelda. Terry Glaser, 27, fluttered her eyelashes like Vivien Leigh in "Streetcar Named Desire" and said, "I'm here on intuition."
NPR had already auditioned about 100 professionals for the three roles, which require three to five days of work for $200 a day. But they wanted to give the public a chance. By 11 p.m. the line was thining and the last number was called.
Inside the control booth, producer JoEllen Rackleff started and stopped the tape, cuing the Performers. "Dahlin heart owah fair-eh tayel is almost ended," drawled one woman, reading her lines with southern drama. Rackleff goaned and smiled through the glass. "That's all, thank you."