At the Huntington Theatre Company, we're taking on a wild adaptation of "M," the old German Fritz Lang movie that launched Peter Lorre in the role of a child serial murderer. Although in the hands of its playwright, Ryan Landry (who once wrote a version of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof titled Pussy on the House), it may look a lot different once it arrives at the other end.
The folks in our artistic department were having trouble finding a little girl to show up at the end of the play. That's when I ran into Ryan at our office. He called me a Queen and asked what was new. I was telling him about my new twin babies when he cut me off. "Wait a minute. How old is your oldest daughter."
Seven, I said.
"She should totally be in 'M.'"
The idea of Eva, our seven year old, appearing in a Ryan Landry play was beyond funny to me. But I promised Ryan I'd pass along his interest to her.
I did that very night but I resolved to undersell it to Eva. You'll have to audition. You may have a rotten audition. You may have a great audition and still not get cast. I won't be in there for the audition. I won't see the show more than once. And so on. And then, I figured, if she asked about it more than a couple days later, she was interested in she'd audition.
She was interested.
When I first laid out the whole project for her, she asked, "What's it about?"
"Well," I said. "I haven't read the script so I really don't know. But I think it's about a guy who kills kids."
"Well, that sounds interesting," she said. "Who would I be?"
"You'd, uh...you'd be a kid."
"He'd kill me?"
"Again, I haven't read the script so I really don't know but, um...yeah."
"Then I'd just go....uggghhh." You'll have to imagine a comically drawn out death face.
The columns had categories like, 'Was I pulite?' and 'Did I mind my own bisness?' Categories by which we should all measure ourselves.
The day of the audition, I brought her in. I gave her only two pieces of advice. One was, Shake hands with as many people as possible. The other was, They're going to be looking for someone to be scared, not someone to be happy.
"But I've never been scared," she said.
I asked her what's the scariest movie she knew.
Raiders of the Lost Ark.
And what's the scariest part?
When their faces melt.
So, just think about that.
The audition was in a Huntington conference room. There were four women at one side of this table and Eva at the other, her hands folded like she was addressing her board of directors. I made introductions and then left . . .
To Be Continued!