Still, good actors want good roles, and judging by the quality of those whom we auditioned, our show was sufficiently attractive. But before we found our cast, we had to endure the EPAs—the Equity Principal Auditions. For any show staged under an Equity contract, audition time must be reserved for the EPAs, which allow any member of the union to stand in line to wait for the chance to perform for nanoseconds in front of your casting director. Your “breakdown”—the list of roles published on backstage.com and elsewhere—might call for a zaftig 60-ish Jewish man, but this does not deter lithe 26-year-old Latino men from showing up. Curious, I sat in on the EPAs. We asked each candidate to tell a joke, and oh, how they tried: the ancient chorus boy who last appeared in New York in the original production of Zorba and had never, even then, had a speaking role; the guy carrying a ukulele who seemed intent on using it as a weapon; the seven different aspirants who, to demonstrate their appropriateness for Old Jews Telling Jokes, told … Irish jokes.
But, eventually, we ended up with a cast we’re very happy with: two older men, one older woman, and a young couple so cute you want to pinch their cheeks. Wonder why we have young actors in a show called Old Jews Telling Jokes? Then tell me: Who else could play the youthful hotel clerk in that great epic saga “The Drobkin Fart”? We’ve reformulated it for our show as a four-character playlet: Audrey Lynn Weston narrates. Lenny Wolpe plays the famous Dr. Drobkin. Bill Army plays the hotel clerk. And Todd Susman, in the role of a lifetime, plays the fart. I know, it’s hard to explain.