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(Washington Post) — At an audition last week at the Kennedy Center, Philip Ruxton felt as if he must have been the only nervous person in a waiting room full of seasoned pros. He paced the floor, focused on his breathing and, finally, with two minutes left before his turn, went over his music one last time before handing it to the pianist who would accompany him. That’s when he discovered the entire last page of his song was missing.

“Uh-oh,” he thought. “This is not good.”

Unlike the others waiting to try out for the chorus of the Kennedy Center’s coming production of “Follies,” Ruxton is brand new to all this. A year ago, the 45-year-old commercial real estate broker’s last theatrical experience had been in high school drama class. But like many struggling with the recession this Labor Day, Ruxton has found the time and incentive to explore his dream, a passion he’d stored in the back of his mind for decades.

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