Garrett Deagon is one of the lucky ones.
By his own estimation, for the better part of three years, he took part in up to 400 auditions in New York City. And he certainly heard a lot of the following: “No thank you,” or “Don’t call us, we’ll call you,” or even, “You’re just not what we’re looking for.”
Auditioning for a job in the world of theatre is the ultimate gamble. You may be pulling on the slot machine for one year before your big break. Heck, it may even be two, five or ten years. Yet more than likely, you might never hit the jackpot at all.
When Deagon hits the stage at San Francisco’s Golden Gate Theatre on Wednesday, June 3rd, it will be another day to celebrate the day he hit the big one. A starring role on a major national tour in a year when he told his dad he was about to do what many actors ultimately do – give it all up.
“I can’t even talk to my dad about it without him tearing up,” said Deagon.
The story goes like this – New Year’s Eve, just hours before 2014, Deagon was home with his dad down south in Santa Clarita, enjoying the holiday away from his New York apartment. Deagon was about to start year three of pounding the pavement, looking for a gig. The grind of auditions started to wear on him after the first few years of his efforts, so it was time to talk to his dad.
“I came home and said, ‘Dad, this is it, my last six months. I gave it three years, and I’m getting out of here,’” said Deagon. “Declaring that kicked my butt into full throttle. I told myself that if I’m quitting, I’m going to give it my all.
“That’s when I booked it.”
The “it” Deagon refers to is a big fish in the Broadway landscape – the venerable musical “Annie,” playing at the Golden Gate through June 14th. Deagon’s new role was that of Rooster Hannigan, the no good louse brother of orphanage dictator Ms. Hannigan. Rooster and his vixen girlfriend Lily St. Regis make efforts to implement a plot in order to acquire a major reward for those who can find the orphan Annie’s birth parents.
It’s a popular and sunny score to say the least, featuring hits such as “Hard Knock Life,” “Maybe,” and “Tomorrow.” There have been multiple film versions of the show, which is set in the Depression era. Those productions featured television and Broadway stars such as Albert Finney, Carol Burnett and Audra McDonald, and a recent film update hit the theatres in 2014 with movie stars Cameron Diaz and Jamie Foxx.
But “Annie” has always found its strongest home on the stage. Since its Broadway premiere in 1977, the play has been produced numerous times on every level of theatre, including countless national tours throughout the world.
For the 25-year-old Deagon, playing the role of Rooster has definite perks. For starters, his signature song, the jazzy and upbeat “Easy Street,” sounds different than most of the other songs in the show.
“It’s the funnest part, because the first scene I come into is an hour into the show and I’ve really built up steam,” said Deagon. “When ‘Easy Street’ comes on, it’s a jazzy New Orleans sound and a show turner.”
Deagon is also pretty fired up about the creative team on this production, which includes the lyricist and original director Martin Charnin, returning to direct the piece for the 19th time. Deagon is certainly hopeful that he continues onto the next project with the team, and is doing everything in his power to keep the momentum going in his favor.
“I have total faith that whatever happens is going to happen,” said Deagon. “I’m doing everything on my best behavior, and hope and pray I can go with these people for the next leg. If I have this credit on my resume, hey I have that for two years, and that means something.”
After everything Deagon has been through, just moments away from throwing in the towel on his acting career, he is deeply appreciative of the opportunity and good fortune he has earned. To put it in a way Annie fans may understand, when times are tough, he relies on the belief that despite the gray and lonely skies of today, the promise of tomorrow is only a day away.
“Sometimes I look back and think about the connectivity of it all, the serendipity of declaring it with my dad, and reflect on it,” said Deagon. “I think about it even more now that we are coming to the west coast, and now I finally get to share it with my family and my teachers. It makes it feel so real and so special.”
More on the web:
WHAT TO KNOW IF YOU GO
SHNSF presents “Annie”
Book by Thomas Meehan
Music by Charles Strouse
Lyrics by Martin Charnin
Choreography by Liza Gennaro
Directed by Martin Charnin
June 3rd – June 14th
The Golden Gate Theatre
1 Taylor Street, San Francisco, CA
Tickets range from $40 – $160
For tickets, call (888) 746-1799 or visit www.shnsf.com