I was in NYC for 5 years before I got a real job there. I had worked in regional theatre and in Canada off and on for 8 years. I was afraid to come to New York after I graduated from school. I thought it would eat me alive. But after several years of working, I had enough confidence to try to make it in New York, I moved to the city when I was 36. I had a friend who worked for a fairly small agency, and they were kind enough to send me out once or twice. I still worked in plays that were offered to me regionally because It was so hard to get a job in New York.
Percy Granger was a friend of mine that I had worked with in Canada— he was an actor then. Now in New York he was a playwright and had written a play that was being done at Circle in the Square. He and I were out with a bunch of other folks one night after seeing his show, and I was talking about how hard it was to get an audition for anything.
On a Monday morning in May he called me and woke me up — I sleep late. He had recommended me for an audition at Circle in the Square and my appointment was at 2 PM. I jumped out of bed, showered, rolled up my hair on hot rollers, and borrowed a dress from the person I was renting my spare room to. All I knew was that it was a Noel Coward play, and I didn’t have a sophisticated dress to wear. So I pulled myself together and raced out to catch the subway. It stopped at a station and went out of service, so I raced upstairs to catch a cab. I got out of the cab on 9th Ave and 50th St— not realizing that the theatre was a very long block away. So by the time I got there I was sweating and feeling a little frazzled. I was given sides and sent to a room that had two other women in it. Both looked very chic and I felt a twinge of despair. Then I reminded myself that I knew how to do this stuff. I had studied in England, I had a good accent, I knew how to do “Style”.
I went into the audition, did the reading, and the director asked me to read another scene. I said it would be an ice-cold reading since I hadn’t seen it. He gave me a few minutes in the hall to look at it and then I went in and read — with the stage manager, Michael Ritchie, now the Artistic Director of the Center Theater Group in LA. The director was George C. Scott, and he was starring in the play as well.
I went home, changed, and was about to go down to Drama Book Shop to buy the script because I was sure I would get a call-back. But the phone rang before I could leave. I was offered the part. And I was to start the next day at 10 AM. Wow. I was over the moon. I had to call the agency that had sent me out a few times to have them do the contract. And during the previews I asked other members of the cast to ask their agents if they would be interested in talking with me. I wanted a good agent who was willing to sign me and work with me. During the run of that play I had interviews with three agencies and settled at STE, which became Paradigm. So I got a foot in the door in New York and an agent from playing Monica in Present Laughter.