The Value of a Smile.

Briefly watching yet another TV programme made cheaply from a compilation of footage shot for another purpose I discovered that I was viewing a selection of old auditions. I paused for a moment and found that the exact point of the show was hard to ascertain but the auditions themselves were interesting. Photographed in wide screen format there were always two actors in full costume (both auditioning it appeared), in a wide shot and with a reasonable semblance of a set. This was Hollywood. The auditions, it turned out, were for "Hello Dolly". At the head of each take the actors identified themselves by stating their name. One young man stood out. In the ten seconds he was on the screen while he and his fellow actor introduced themselves a number of things were instantly plain. This actor was enjoying himself. He was not however a "show off" driven by ego and over-excited energy. This was an actor who was relaxed and happily sharing in an open generous and very engaging way. All this communicated in just ten seconds.

It was interesting to see that when the audition itself was screened it wasn't in fact a boisterous scene nor was it a particularly energetic or vigorous performance. So the ambience generated in that moment of introducing himself was nothing to do with preparation for the scene that was to follow. And in fact the audition itself was not memorable. At the time of writing I can remember nothing about the performance in the audition - but I obviously can remember his smile. His name was Ron Rifkin, I think.

Making a Positive Impression
It reminded me of a comment made by Mike Bishop in part two of his interview with The Rehearsal Room - "You don't get given work, you have to earn it. You have to earn it by making a positive impression on the people who are watching." (Part Two of the interview with Mike will be published soon).

Ron Rifkin made a very positive impression. His name does not appear on the cast list of Hello Dolly but I am sure he was remembered for the way he used that brief introduction.

June 2002

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