Notes from an Undercover Stage Mother

Last week I went undercover as a stage mother.

Assignment: accompany Hannah McEachern, age 16, to a commercial audition at 5:20 PM on a Wednesday afternoon in New York City.

Details: Young actress to be picked up from Bolt Bus arriving from Boston at 3:30 PM and dropped off at Penn Station for Amtrak train back to Boston, departing at 7:45 PM.

I got this.

First step: Meet young actress at the bus at 11th Avenue and 33rd Street.

I decide to follow my own audition advice to “leave early and bring a raincoat” from my new book Confessions of a Casting Director. I pack an umbrella in my purse (note for next time: pack a LARGER one) and arrive twenty minutes before the Bolt Bus was to arrive. Check.

Bus arrives at 3:40 PM, ten minutes late thanks to a Brooklyn detour: Really? Young actress steps off the bus, Burger King bag and backpack in tow. She’s tired and dazed. I hug Hannah. Suddenly rain begins to pelt down from the sky. Neither of us are prepared: Hannah doesn’t have a hat and I’m wearing a wool coat. I reach for that small umbrella. Our immediate life raft.

We can’t find a cab (natch) and decide to hop the 34th street crosstown — that bus where you pay on the honor system and are supposed to keep your tickets in case they ask for them. We get off the bus at Park and 34th and of course we got stopped by the bus driver. Neither of us could find our tickets. Less then one hour as an undercover stage mom and we’re already in trouble. Hannah quickly pushes me forward, and we dodge the mean bus driver. Cool! I feel a rush of my former adolescent rebellion!

We have an hour before the audition and two options to take shelter from the rain: Le Pain Quotidien, or the 33rd and Park Avenue Equinox location. I’m a proud ten-year all access Equinox member, so I grab Hannah and usher her into the serenity and quiet of Equinox. I tell the front desk staff she’s my niece, just off the bus from Boston for a huge audition. The entire Equinox reception desk staff are all actors and welcome her to the club.