It was early evening when I awoke as I often do to a full bladder, that was soon met with a knock on the bathroom door that was yet again occupied by one of my roommates. I pee pee danced up and down the hall to keep from expressing myself. The past few weeks had been a blur as I had just returned from a year long tour of The musical production of Dreamgirls, had a few weeks to catch my breathe and was back on the grind rehearsing a flash mob for the famous clothing brand Montclair and auditioning for a new musical, Priscilla queen of the Desert.
I always attribute my musical success to open calls. Don’t knock em. I’ve technically booked both of my shows through open calls.
A few days earlier, I saw on playbill an audition for this musical that would require me to perform in drag. Fortunately for me, The only requirement I needed was to bring a pair of heels cause I knew nothing of this world. I arrived at the audition, being 1 of about 7 guys. The dance captain, a short, energetic musical theater queen with hair down to his shoulders spat out combo after combo of the routine that all seemed like a blur. My friend Eric who was the partial male swing on Dreamgirls, standing around 6’4 stood next to me and seemed to have a better handle on the movement. The audition ended quickly and Eric was one of I believe two guys asked to stay. He and the dance captain seemed to have also known each other from working on something previously. I was happy for him. I always said, if I couldn’t get the job, I’d hoped it went to a friend especially since there were so few of them for black men at the time.
The weekend of the flash mob crept up quickly. We had been rehearsing in an open warehouse far out in bk that literally everyone got lost finding the first day of the rehearsal. My agent at the time got me in for the invited call of Priscilla and I knew this was my chance.
I’m not quite sure where it came from but I always had a natural flare for drag. From a young age, I remember in my dance classes, my teacher would teach us how to walk across the floor, men had to walk like men and women like women but before I learned how to walk like a man, I would let the girls have it. My teacher didn’t mind. I’m pretty sure he knew I was gay and was waiting for me to figure it out. He would say, “you have such a beautiful quality.” I was so good at it that when Miss Sherri started taking classes with us she would ask me instead of my sister to teach her how to do the walks. And the catwalk would commence in our two bedroom apt living room.
Anyway, we were a few days away from performing the flash mob at grand central and every moment Luam wasn’t using me, I was in the corner going over all the choreo I learned from the Priscilla open call.
That weekend the Moncler show went off without a hitch, playing the center ballet boy in a bulky Moncler snow suit with ski goggles was probably the most unique performance combination I’ve experienced.
Our compensation, $150 and a Moncler jacket. We were randomly given one in concealed bags and the bag I received contained a bright red puffy coat. It was the only red one in the bunch and it took me a second to love it because I didn’t want to stand out but In that moment, I decided to own it and embrace the Leo within.
The next morning was the invited call or what felt like a callback for me. I arrived at the audition, this time with at least 20 other black guys in heels auditioning for the part. My first pair of heels were an open toe Payless with maybe a 3 inch heel. Wasn’t nearly high enough. Lol. And yet, there were guys in one inch church heels toppling over. I had no idea, the advantage so many years of ballet had given.
The audition progressed and I stood in the middle pretending to learn all the choreo for the first time and when we broke into groups, I was no longer thinking about the steps and was able to shine. What was so great about the audition was having to jump back and forth between playing a male and a female. We had to showcase both and it’s honestly where I felt most comfortable. I exuded a very clean and crisp masculinity in it’s raining men followed by a very elegant and poised female for what I would later come to know as the stairs sequence.
A few call backs in which I had to sing and read sides. Eric was there along with me and definitely outshone me in the acting but fortunately for me, I could sing, dance down and was the right height and body type.
The bathroom door at my apartment finally swung open and I hurriedly ran in and sat down to relieve myself. You’re probably wondering why I sat. Well, usually when I had to go that bad I wasn’t sure if it was just coming out of one end or both so I didn’t risk it. 😂.
A small pang of disappointment crossed my face as I returned to my bed. I’d quickly glanced at my phone in hopes of receiving a message from my agent about my audition but alas, it was empty. I laid back down on my bed facing away from the dresser where my phone sat. A little voice whispered checked again and so, I looked one last time. Again, nothing...
Then two seconds later as if I were in a movie, a voicemail popped up on the screen from my agent. I shrieked! Like a panicked little girl. I fumbled with the phone and finally got the voice message to play on speaker. On the other end I heard my agent say, “Amaker, I’m so glad I stayed late to get this cause... you booked Priscilla!”
I immediately screamed, jumped for joy and took off running down the hallway to tell my roommates. I banged on each of their doors barely speaking coherent sentences. “I got it! I got the part! I’m gonna be on broadway.” I couldn’t believe it. At 26, I was going to make my broadway debut.