It sounds counterintuitive, but it’s been true when it comes to me and Expressions Theater.
Years ago, I auditioned for Mind Over Matt and was cast in the main role. In the spring, I auditioned for Wage Warfare and got shut out. 50% success rate. That by itself sounds pretty good, right?
However, for this summer’s production of Everybody Loves Opal, we were scrambling for a cast: not enough people auditioned for all of the roles. I was supposed to be just an assistant director, but since I’d been reading the Brad role during rehearsals for everyone else’s sake, I ended up playing that part for the performances as well.
Then there’s the fall/Christmas show that Expressions is putting on stage in November. I was planning on taking some time off, just relax and enjoy the season without acting, working backstage, etc. I got an email about auditions for Trials, Tribulations and Christmas Decorations and promptly deleted it. Life was spiffy.
Then I got a random phone call one evening about a month ago. At least I thought it was random. Erin, the director from Opal and the assistant director for this show, was calling to ask if I’d accept a role in the play. (Cindy, someone who’s worked with Expressions in the past, was yelling in the background that I was accepting the role whether I wanted to or not.)
There are two males in the script: John (the main character) and his son-in-law, Dennis. John is supposed to be of grandfatherly age and four or five people auditioned for that role. With about an hour left of the second day of auditions, they were distinctly lacking in a Dennis. No 30-somethings showed up, so they called me.
I suppose I could interpret that as “We’re desperate, you’re at least a marginally okay actor and won’t make the show suck too bad.” I prefer to put a more positive spin on it: “We’re desperate, you’re a slightly-more-than-marginally okay actor and could make people not thoroughly regret the fact that they paid for their tickets.” It’s all about stroking my own ego, right?
And it turns out that my luck for lack of auditioning has continued outside of Expressions. I’ve mentioned playing trivia on Thursday nights here before, but I haven’t mentioned is that a lot of my teammates attend the same church. They’ve put on a production of Scrooge every year since… I have no idea how long. I’m guessing they started sometime after “A Christmas Carol” was written, but that’s the extent of my knowledge in that regard.
I also know that one of them is the director this year and she’s been sounding… reminiscent of Erin this summer when we were having trouble finding people to put Opal onstage. In this case, it’s because they’re having a problem finding male townspeople to sing and dance in the background for Scrooge. A MAJOR problem.
Because I remembered everyone’s distress this summer, I volunteered to help out. Up until the last few weeks before performance weekend, my rehearsal schedule for the show will entail about three hours every Saturday. Learning music and choreography… I think I’ll be okay. I hope. We’re doing this for a church, I’m sure God will forgive me if I totally screw up.
I discovered how big the problem was when I got to the church last Saturday. I had no idea where I was going, but I walked in the front door, followed some voices I heard in the distance, then got pointed in the right direction. When things finally got organized, we had all the townspeople in one room to practice choreography. There were 10, maybe 12 females there? And I was one of four guys. FOUR. When you need to have couples dancing and have to tell the girls, “Pretend there’s a guy here and a guy here”… that helps explain the tone of desperation.
So now I’m committed to two shows in the next few months when I didn’t audition for either. And if I could apply that luck to finding a girlfriend, I wouldn’t care nearly as much about what Cindy might be yelling in the background during a phone call.