BLOOD BROTHERS BLOG #7: Actor Rowan Michael Meyer
"Adventurous theater in Astoria"

-- The New York Times

BLOOD BROTHERS BLOG #7: Actor Rowan Michael Meyer

Never Judge a Basement by Its Color.

The night I auditioned for Blood Brothers, the stars could not have been less aligned.  I was on the subway… to Queens… for a 9pm audition… in a church basement… for a musical I’d never heard of… directly after a cruise line audition that was a solid medium-rare.  The doubts especially began to creep in when I entered the church on Crescent Street through a blood-red set of doors, and descended a set of stairs leading to a large basement whose walls were the color of a yellow I could not name.

The usual gaggle of young men, fresh out of their impressive BFA programs, and impressively trying to impress each other by talking about their impressive “process”.  Cut to me, standing in the corner, quietly warming up, and feeling rather old two years out of my MFA program.  A 22 year old ingénue I am not.  Had I made a mistake?  Should I have prepared more for the chilly cruise line audition?  Did I bring my pore minimizer?

I listened to talented leading man after talented leading man belting their hearts out to Broadway standards and favorites with anxious gusto, their vocal cords ringing with the bright, unknowable quality of stardom.  Finally, I step into the audition room, fumbling with my songbook, and telling my story with an understated selection from an Off-Broadway musical no one had ever heard of.  The creative panel listened politely and warmly, but I had no expectations of a callback.

I got a callback!  The casting director sends me three scenes and a song to learn.  I notice quickly… this writing is good.  No, this writing is superb.  I know next to nothing about this musical, yet it hooks me from one page of text.  I learn the song – a quiet and subtle anthem of longing, exactly in the same vein of my original audition.  Excitement seeps in.  I realize… I WANT this.

The callback arrives. I leave my sides in my bag, refusing to hinder myself with paper when I know this text backwards by now.  Once again, an impressive selection of talented young men… but the role of Mickey Johnstone is mine.  I claim very few things in my life, but I staked this claim with a ferocity that surprised even me.  I read with the amazing actors who will soon become my beloved cast mates, Simon Pearl and Kayla Wickes.  The chemistry is tangible.  The energy quick and light.  The creative team smiles, laughs, and grunts in that affirmative manner that all actors love to hear.  Nothing had ever felt so right.

10 AM the next morning, the offer is made, and I am ecstatic.  Script received, music sent, and I gobble it up like a delicious meal. Rehearsals begin.  I am one of few newcomers in a cast of APAC veterans – a VERY good sign that this is a company in which to make a home.  Our director Tom explains his vision of keeping the entire cast onstage throughout, as active spectators, and I positively melt. Genius, and perfect.  We are shown the space: a small and rather uninspiring gymnasium.  Cut to tech week when it is TRANSFORMED into a beautiful performance space, a feat that my mind could not conceive of until I’d actually seen it.

Every rehearsal is a dream. We are given freedom and permission to play.  Egos are left at the door.  We are all here for one reason: to tell this story.  I am reminded, after years of disappointing work, why I gave my life to the theatre.  I absolutely DETEST my days off, waiting impatiently for tomorrow when we get to stage my favorite musical number, or block my favorite scene, or merely work on simple transitions with these people I have quickly come to love.

We are now going into out third week of performances and I already ache at the prospect of closing. Sold out performances with better responses than any of us had hoped for.  There is magic in this show, and in the walls of this church that now seems more beautiful to me than any Broadway house ever could.  Who knew such bliss could have grown out of one grin-and-bear-it trip to Astoria?

Thank you to Tom, Christine, Julianne, Taryn, the designers, the crew, my cast/family, and all supporters of APAC for reminding me why I can’t live without this.  And for allowing me, even for a brief moment, to once again be seven years old… though I’m nearly eight.

RowaninShow RowanatCastParty RowaninRehearsalLeft to Right. Rowan as Mickey in rehearsal – Photo by Bradley Hawks. Rowan with castmates Simon Pearl (Eddie) and Kayla Wickes (Linda) – Photo by Matty Baker. Rowan as Mickey in performance – Photo by Jen Maufrais Kelly).


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