I just finished a run of Bye Bye Birdie at Desert Foothills Theater, and I’m settling in to the relative normalcy (Thanksgiving notwithstanding) that was my life before I accepted the role. It’s got me thinking about what a roller-coaster ride it’s been. We tend to use “roller coaster” to describe the ups and downs of an experience, but this acting action adventure had screaming and blood pumping and adrenaline surging to boot. It always does. And the people you’re in the car with, well, they form a bond with you that’s difficult to replicate. That’s one of the many reasons I love performing on stage.
For the next week, I’ll be sharing some of my thoughts during a typical community theater stage production, from audition notices to stage strike. Here we go! Hope you’re buckled in. Click click click click click …
I think: Hmm. Should I? Could I? I’m really busy.
When: I see an audition notice for a show that sounds interesting.
Because: It’s been a while since I’ve done a show. (Almost two years this last time.) I hear and read about all the wonderful things my acting friends have been doing, and deep down I miss it. It doesn’t help that people ask, “So, are you doing any shows lately?” and I have to spin some yarn about how I’m taking a break and blah, blah, blah. I feel so out of touch. I miss stretching my brain and my boundaries to learn new roles. I miss the quirkiness of rehearsals. The camaraderie of actors. The buzz of backstage. The unparalleled thrill of being on stage. But I just don’t have time. Still, I put a feeler out to some friends who know more about the show than I do and get their advice. “Go for it!” they say, not surprisingly. I have good friends.
I think: Omigosh omigosh omigosh I’m gonna die.
When: I finally decide to audition.
Because: Auditioning is one of the single scariest things on Earth. Even seasoned actors I know feel this way. I realize I need to brush up on the monologue and song that I’ll present to the director and whoever else’s smiling face is on that side of the table. I hope what I’m doing is what the director is looking for. If I’m lucky, I stumble through some cold reads from the script. I make a mental note to take a class to start improving this for next time.
Me as Mr. MacAfee, Bye Bye Birdie, Desert Foothills Theater, Nov. 11–21
Photos courtesy of Jeremy Andorfer/Vangelis Productions