Audition Season Silver Linings

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They are the words every actor dreads hearing. The half-hearted “Thanks . . . that’s all we need to see today” or “Unfortunately . . . we cannot offer you a role, but please do audition for future productions.”

A working actor is only such when we are, well, working. And rejection is never easy to take. However, as I was once told, there can only be so many redheads in one show. But are there silver linings that can lessen the blow of those “no thanks” that we all at some point in our early careers are bound to encounter? As a young actor in a new market just getting my feet wet in the community, I have had to discover a few of my own silver linings.

First, I can finally cut my hair! In every acting contract there is a small addendum stating that an actor may not alter their physical appearance during production without express permission from their director, or conversely, must alter their physical appearance per production needs. This includes your hair. I have shared many laughs with fellow actors walking into auditions with peroxide blond hair when their headshot shows they are a natural brunette or another actor who was waxed bald for a role though he usually sported a full head of curly red tresses. Lately I have grumbled about needing to keep my own hair long for a subtle but important gesture made in the second half of my current show, a length I would have had to maintain had I landed a role for which I was recently called back. But with a disappointing “no thanks” from that callback and a lull coming between full productions, I can finally call up that favorite salon for a much-needed trim.

Second, my diet will once again consist of more than chocolate, coffee, and carbs. It often begins in tech — the shift from healthy eating habits and daily exercise to grab-and-go tendencies. Maintaining a rigorous 16 to 20 hour tech rehearsal schedule followed by weeks of day job hours and evening performances might turn any tea drinker to the “dark side” and a good high-test brew. And while a sit-down Gorgonzola and arugula salad with an orange-infused vinaigrette would be perfect after a long day of data entry, there is no eating on the Metro!

And lastly, of course, there is always the opportunity to learn from missteps and mistakes. The idea of rejection in my opinion is the impetus to do better. Yes, the old adage proves true, we can always learn from our past. After months of devised work and contemporary straight plays before that, it had been quite a while since I had pulled out my musical audition book. With audition season beginning again in the Washington area, I found my go-to favorite 16 bars were no longer quite in the comfortable range they had been more than a year ago — the last time I auditioned for a musical season. Additionally, I found my book woefully lacking a pop/rock cut that many companies were asking to hear. Walking away from those auditions with “that’s all we need to see” ringing in my ears, I returned to the drawing board. I dug through piles of sheet music, asked friends for suggestions, listened to hours of musicals and pop/rock, and most likely drove my roommates and neighbors batty belting out showtunes in the shower until I finally had an updated audition book to be proud of.

So while it is never easy to put your whole heart into an audition and not be cast, perhaps it is best to take a note from Jerome Kern’s Sally, “Just look for the silver lining, and try to find the sunny side of life,” or in this case, the sunny side of audition season.