I’ve accepted a 31-day author confessions challenge. The day to day challenges are listed below.
I’ll begin with the first challenge-Who is your favorite character in your WIP?
My favorite character in my current work in progress is my main male, Roger Zellers. Roger has been a professional actor, singer, and dancer on Broadway for the last eight years. He was born and raised in upstate New York and spent his whole life taking dance classes, theatre training, and voice and piano lessons. He’s performed on stage since he was five years old and has earned a couple of Tony nominations, winning one for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical.
Roger is my favorite character in my current book for several reasons. First, he’s a down to earth guy who enjoys life and is fun to hang out with. He’s also multi-talented, has a playful sense of humor, and randomly blurts out showtunes or tap dances down the streets of New York City. Although he’s recognized for his immeasurable talents, he’s humble and goes out of his way to support other entertainers rather than promote himself. Most importantly, he’s benevolent and compassionate. It’s not unusual for him to donate large sums of money to various charities. He’s actively involved in the Broadway Cares Foundation, donates toys to the Toys For Tots program, and is often seen providing food, blankets, shoes, and jackets to the homeless. He sings Christmas songs with sick children at children’s hospitals or the children’s shelter and volunteers his time and talent to various fundraising efforts. He even adopts an abandoned dog to keep him from freezing to death.
Roger does have a past, however, which he doesn’t like to talk about. His biological father died before he was born, he had a bit of a reckless youth, and he’s been in his fair share of bad relationships. He’s friendly and kind, but has a hard time trusting people. It takes a long time to get him to open up to you. Once he does though, he’s loyal and supportive.
Roger is first introduced in the first scene of Center Stage, where he’s returning to the Ambassador Theatre to retrieve the cellphone he had mistakenly left behind. That’s where he encounters Lauren, one of the main female characters in the last book of my series. Here’s an excerpt:
Theater is a calling, an art, and the Juilliard School in New York City was one of the most respected and renowned places in the world to perfect this art. Known for its rigorous program and extensive admission requirements, Juilliard only accepted eight to ten new candidates into the actor training program each year. Ever since she was a little girl, Lauren Hanson dreamed of singing on a Broadway stage. Gaining admittance into Juilliard led her one step closer to fulfilling that dream.
This year’s incoming freshmen had the opportunity to go on an educational tour through various theatres in New York City. While touring the Ambassador Theatre, Lauren and her classmates were invited to act out impromptu or monologue on the stage if they wanted to. But Lauren didn’t do either of those things. Instead, she confidently stood before an empty house and belted out the song ‘Defying Gravity’ from the musical Wicked.
Roger Zellers, a professional Broadway actor, was backstage retrieving his cellphone when he heard Lauren’s heavenly voice echo through the theatre. He roamed onto the stage wing to investigate. Standing center stage, singing her heart out, was an incredibly attractive young woman wearing a Juilliard tee-shirt and jeans. He watched in rapt attention, mesmerized by the intense emotion she projected through her performance. He had to find out who this woman was.
When the class was about to exit the theatre, Roger intercepted her at the door. “Excuse me, Ma’am?”
Lauren turned around. “Yes?”
“I’m sorry. I know you don’t know me, but I just heard you sing, and you have the most beautiful voice I have ever heard.”
She offered him a small, shy smile. “Thank you.”
“I am correct to assume that you’re a student at Juilliard?”
“Yes, I am.”
He extended an open palm and graciously shook her hand. “I’m Roger Zellers, and if you’d allow me, I’d like to offer my assistance.”
“Assistance with what?”
“I would like to provide you with an opportunity that will help you gain exposure and allow you to meet and work with people in the Broadway community.”
She asked for clarification. “What do you mean?”
“I’m an actor currently doing a show here at the Ambassador. I happen to know that the manager of this theatre is looking to hire theatre arts students as interns. You’ll be behind the scenes during productions, you’ll get to work directly with Broadway performers, and you’ll learn a few tricks of the trade. It’ll get your foot in the door, and people will get to know you. I’d like to give your name to the manager. You certainly captured my attention, I know you’ll capture hers as well. You interested?”
The chance to meet and work with Broadway actors and be backstage during shows was a once in a lifetime opportunity toward fulfilling her dream of performing on Broadway. As excited as Lauren was about this opportunity, she was a bit apprehensive because she knew nothing about this man and didn’t know if she could trust him.
Sensing this woman’s reluctance, Roger offered her an alternative. “Tell you what, why don’t you stop by tomorrow afternoon and talk to her.” He pulled a business card out of his wallet and grabbed a pen to write something on the back. “We have rehearsal tomorrow at 3:30. When you get here, go around the back and enter through the stage door. Show the security guard this card and tell him Roger sent you.”
He handed her the card and she carefully examined it. Printed on the front in huge block letters were the words Roger Zellers, Broadway Vocalist/ Actor/ Dancer. A phone number and website followed.
“So will you stop by tomorrow?”
She smiled with satisfaction. “I’ll be here.”