It was around 1995-96. Les Miserables had been running successfully on Broadway since 1987. If I remember correctly, they hadn't had an audition for some time. And I think they underestimated. The auditions were held at the Equity (the stage actor's union) building. People started lining up EARLY. Hundreds of males showed up for the male call and perhaps twice as many females for their call later in the afternoon. How they were going to get through all of us was beyond me.
I signed up and waited for hours to be seen. Before they started, casting director Ron LaRosa popped out to apologize for underestimating the turnout and that they'd get to all of us as quickly as possible. Adding that we should have our standard 16 bars of a song to sing. If you don't know, that's a good chunk of time depending on the song.
After about an hour, LaRosa came out again. "Sorry everyone. We're way behind. I'm cutting it down to 8 bars". A few audible groans and shuffling of sheet music as people had to quickly reconfigure their 16 to the best 8 to show off their voice. Not necessarily that hard but still can throw you off.
Maybe another hour passes. You guessed it. Out comes LaRosa. "Sorry again. REALLY need to pick things up. You have 4 bars to sing". This time, the entire room groaned and many audible protestations were made. He put his hand up and the room silenced. He was, after all, one of the most powerful stage casting directors at the time. He says quietly and simply, "I can tell if you can sing in 2". DAMN. That's gangsta.
I was worried. I had a good 8 bar cut of "Gethsemane" from Jesus Christ Superstar that hit a high note and showed my range. Cutting it to 4 would be a challenge as I usually can build up to the high note but would have to hit it on the 2nd bar. Yikes!
Eventually, it was my turn. I was pretty nervous as this was a huge audition. I had auditioned for other Broadway shows before but never had felt this anxious. I walk in and say hello and walk straight to the piano player to hand my sheet music. Pointing out where I'm starting/stopping. I go to the center spot and introduce myself and the song and LaRosa nods. I sing the 4 bars and stop. It was an abrupt stop in the music, but he said 4 bars. As I stopped, I realized the piano player kept playing as there were only another 4 bars left to the music and suddenly LaRosa said nicely, "Oh, you could have finished." And I stumbled, "Oh, sorry. You said 4 bars, so I...sorry, I can..." and then he interrupts (again nicely), "Never stop unless we ask you to. Thanks very much!".
Curses. I had blown it. But I learned a valuable lesson. Never stop doing your thing until you're done. If someone wants you to stop, they'll ask or say so. Until then, as the wise Michael Jackson once said, "Don't Stop Til You Get Enough". Or even better, a great quote from Socrates, "Keep on truckin'."