Auditioning Disappointment: You Can’t Always Get What You Want

November’s Bye Bye Birdie was my first stage production in almost two years, and only my second in more than six years. After Birdie, I decided I wanted to do another show, and soon. My deadline was made clearer by the fact that I have a baby due in June, when I’ll need to hang up my acting shoes for a while to play daddy.

I originally set my sights on Chicago at Theater Works. That show fit nicely into my window. Plus, c’mon, it’s Chicago. But Chicago up and got canceled. Instead of that theater’s replacement musical, I decided to go out for A Man For All Seasons, a straight play (non-musical) in the same time range put on by my “home theater”—if I have a “home theater”—Fountain Hills Community Theater.

Auditions consisted only of cold reads from the script. Basically, you show up, they hand you a couple pages from the script, send you to the stage with another actor who probably wants the same role as you, and watch you work.

I was asked to read just a couple of times. In my experience that means A) the director knows what I’m capable of and already has me slotted for a role or B) I’ve pretty much already been cut.

At the end of the night, I was thinking A, but as time went by the next day, after we were told we’d get a call, B lurked into the picture. You only get a call if they want you in the show. Like a boy who never hears from that girl for a second date, you’re left to wonder why. In fact, the cast is having its first meeting as I finish this post, so it looks like I have my final answer.

Am I disappointed? Yes. Rejection always stings. I don’t care how “over it” you say you are.

Am I OK with it? Yes. This is a new, more mature Matt’s answer. They tell you that if you’re not cast, that you shouldn’t take it personally. I used to take it personally—how could they not want ME?—but not anymore. I understand now that the director has a greater vision for the show, and for the actors who will bring it to life. The simple answer is that I didn’t fit into that vision.

Seems like I’ll slip into my acting sabbatical a little sooner than expected. I look at it this way: Instead of spending 120 hours at the theater over the next six weeks, I can have quality time with my wife as we get ready for the arrival of our first child.

Thoughts from an Occasional Actor (7 of 7)

This week I’m sharing some of my thoughts during a typical community theater stage production, from audition notices to stage strike.

Click here for Part 1. Part 2. Part 3. Part 4. Part 5. Part 6.

I think: How am I ever going to replicate this experience?
When: The morning after we take our last bows and reduce the set to nothing.
Because: This experience was incredible. Truth is, there is no replicating it. Each show—the cast dynamic, the backstage antics, the product we put on display every night—is like a snowflake; no two will ever be the same. And I suppose that’s the way it should be. It’s a new and different experience every production, with every director, cast and crew, which makes it all the more fun. It’s part of what keeps me coming back time after time.

I think: Matt feeling sad.
When: Between one and five days after the show ends.
Because: Each show carves out a special place in my heart, and each one leaves a hole after it’s gone. Social media has helped smooth the path back to non-actor-dom. I check Facebook every hour: Has someone posted about the show?! If so, I’m sure to acknowledge with a quick “like” or a clever comment. But, little by little, Facebook activity wanes. I click through pictures and reminisce. I look through audition notices to see what show I could do next. But, eventually, it stops. Hey, maybe I’ll blog about it! That’s what I’ll do! But, sigh, even that has to come to an end. Case in point.

Me as Mr. MacAfee, Bye Bye Birdie, Desert Foothills Theater, Nov. 11–21

Photos courtesy of Jeremy Andorfer/Vangelis Productions

Thoughts from an Occasional Actor (1 of 7)

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