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Worst Audition Experiences: The Real Tragicomedies

Amanda Charney asks fellow students to share their stories. logo

You know that saying, "Misery loves company"? For some reason, it's even more true of students. People get into "I'm more screwed than you are" fights all the time, listing out all of the things they have to do or that are going wrong in their lives. Yet for some reason, just hashing it all out makes you feel better!

Although it may take a while, after a horrible audition, you start to see the funny side of things. This week, I asked actors to share the worst audition they ever had, and got some great (and horrible) stories. Sometimes, talking about it can be therapeutic!

Theater student Dana Brown had an unfortunate experience with an auditioner. "I was auditioning for a scholarship here at USC and the woman was whispering loudly throughout my entire piece, and then in the middle of my second monologue, her dog started barking! I wanted to just stop and say, 'Are you finished? I'll wait.' I know that type of stuff happens all the time for TV/film auditions, but I've never had it happen during a theater audition. It left me with no confidence in the audition!"

Jennica Hill, now about to graduate, reminisced about an experience when she was first starting out in college. "It was my first audition for the Musical Theatre Repertory at USC, and I was an eager freshman. I had only ever been in one musical and really had no idea how to successfully prepare a musical theater audition. I found out about the audition for Hello, Again and went to the library to check out Rent and Wicked--the only shows I knew I would probably be able to learn songs from quickly. So I go to the audition, and the girl signing people in was really rude to me and quite brash. When I got into the actual audition, I forgot the words to "Popular" from Wicked...twice. People watching me actually had to sing along to help me with the words.

"I told the people outside trying my best to laugh it off when the mean girl who had checked me in said something along the lines of, 'never do Wicked for an audition. Oh my gosh, I can't believe you sang "Popular". They all know the song so if you mess up you're screwed.' I left the theater and ran into my acting teacher at the time. I immediately started crying and had to be comforted!"

Will Schroeder wins the award for most traumatizing experience, though. "When I was about 10 or so, I had just been in my first school play, and I wanted to be in a show over the summer. So I auditioned for Aladdin by the Children's Theatre Company in Minneapolis, which is a professional company. When I went to the audition I was horrified to find that not only was I the youngest person auditioning, but everyone else there had significantly more dance experience than me.

"The next hour was one of the most grueling, embarrassing experiences of my life. I struggled through a fairly complex combination, putting as much effort into getting all the steps as I was into not passing out. By the way, the man teaching us this was this enormous loud fellow missing a hand, in lieu of which he had a prosthetic hook. Now, not to sound insensitive, but holy god was this terrifying.

"Towards the end of the ordeal, my line was rotated to the front to run the combination again. I hadn't brought water with me, and was basically running on empty at this point. I bent down to tie my shoe just as the music cued up, so I shot up to my feet and I lost my footing and stumbled forward, right into the choreographer's hook hand, and it sort of bent to the right and made this horrible clicking noise.

"A wave of horror and nausea washed over me as I thought I'd basically further crippled my auditioner. The whole room went quiet. He just snapped it back into place and said "Don't worry, that happens a lot." I sort of just stared in dumb silence/numb horror. The audition went on. I wasn't cast. Years later, I auditioned for and was accepted to a musical conservatory program. Then I found out he was on staff as the dance instructor. It was the best moment ever."

It may seem embarrassing, entertaining, or silly to look back on, but I think what really defines people in the theater world is what they've overcome to get where they are today. If you can get through a horrible experience and still go back and audition again, chances are you're a pretty strong person with a bright future ahead. And having the ability to laugh at yourself? That's priceless as well!


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