"Are you here to audition?"
Not unless you have to audition to be an audience member, I told the woman at the table with the clipboard.
Actually I was there to get on-stage seats for "Spring Awakening" at the Empire Theater, four blocks from my house.
Once I'd learned that there were a dozen seats available up close and personal with the cast, I was determined to plant myself in one of them.
Well, that and the fact that stage seats are $5 and regular seats are $44, well out of the range of this poor writer's pocketbook.
We were escorted to our seats by the House Manager who instructed us to sit in any seats except those that had drawers on the back.
It wasn't long before two cast members took the seats with drawers next to us and the play was off and running.
What I hadn't realized was that the cast members next to me were going to be singing from where they were,
Sometimes sitting ("Mama Who Bore Me"), sometimes standing on their chairs ("The Bitch of Living"), they were performing inches away.
It may have been the coolest theater experience I've ever had.
And just for the record, while the on-stage seats were not as comfy as the regular theater seats, they were located directly under the box seats, always the priciest seats in the house, so the view was spectacular.
Frankly, for a play dealing with child abuse, masturbation, abortion, suicide and sexual abuse (not to mention a bare male butt), I want a good view.
Of course I was going to love a musical with an alternative music score by singer/songwriter Duncan Sheik, but I was equally as enthralled with having a band (guitars, bass, drums, cello, violin, viola, keys) accompany that music rather than an orchestra.
The story of hormone-driven teenagers ("Why am I haunted by the legs of a woman?") living in repressed 1890s Germany (but one with neon shoelaces, wildly gelled hair and jeweled sandals) took its spark from the energetic young cast, many of whom couldn't legally buy a drink during intermission.
But wow, could they ever dance and sing. And they nailed teen angst magnificently.
From "My Junk" to "Totally F**ked" and whether they were laying on stage singing to the rafters or pulling a mic out of their pockets to sing rock star-style, you really couldn't take your eyes off of them.
During the ensemble numbers, the actors were literally a couple of feet from my face.
I don't want to brag, but I could see them spit. And, yes, I like that.
And John Mincks, your ability to spring from stage to mid-air (mid-note) was nothing short of breathtaking from where I sat.
During intermission, I heard a woman tell someone that she'd seen "Spring Awakening" at a Broadway matinee a few years back and had been so impressed by it that she'd gone back that same night to see it again.
Pshaw. I'd realized that I would do the same before the first act was even over.
And at five dollars a pop, I can easily afford to see it again.
Fortunately, I think I passed the audition to be a stage-sitting audience member.
Pardon my enthusiasm, Virginia Rep, but there's nothing quite like the view from the cheap seats.