Auditioning is always a scary process even when you are a seasoned performer. You show up, stand on the X, and essentially say, “Hi! I think I’m amazing! Please tell me you think I’m amazing too! I’ll check my email incessantly until you do!!!” No matter how many times it happens, if the email you get starts with “Dear auditioner” and continues with how much wonderful talent they saw (and wonderful talent wasn’t you), it is a punch in the gut. Like OOOOOOF, seriously!? If you get the callback but not the role, at least you have the solace of knowing how close you came, and that you did your best, they’ll remember me next time, etc. No such luck when you don’t get a call at all. Self-doubt whispers in your ear, “they don’t even want to see me? Did I sound BAD?”
Not gonna lie or sugar coat — if you didn’t get a callback at all, especially if you are flexible to take any role, it could very well be that others are more talented. But it’s not ALWAYS the case. I really do believe it’s more a matter of “fit” than talent. A director is going to see his or her show in a certain way. They are looking for a certain person, and if you don’t look, smell, act and sound like that vision, there is probably not much you can do. Even if literally NO ONE ELSE is “better”, they may still not consider you. I auditioned for 42nd Street a few years ago where they called me back for the second of the two roles I’d written down. Then they reposted on social media that they were still seeking people for the other role (Dorothy) — the role I really wanted. “Why not sing me for it?” I said, but I got a firm no. They didn’t see me in that role, and it wasn’t going to matter how good I sounded singing it.
I think one of the things that’s toughest for me is just that disconnect. I’m really choosy about the roles I go for. I won’t ever show up at your audition saying “so I don’t know much about this show — what’s it about?” I’m a research nut, and if I’m there and wrote a role down it’s for good reason — I think I can kill it! So when a director feels the exact opposite, and that I’m totally the wrong fit, it shakes me. Coupled with my, ahem, healthy ego, I usually have to talk myself off the ledge of “what is WRONG with them?!” But I know that I’m setting my sights SUPER HIGH. Really good theatres, many of whom cast Equity leads. Wide range of ages and types. Sopranos! Altos! Tenors! Killer lead roles (see my rejection list below — I KNOW there are long shots on there — D’Ysquith Family is expected to be played by a DUDE, for goodness sake). I should expect this to happen regularly. Yet every time I feel surprised. I’m ridiculous!
So if all of this sounds like a really fresh wound — uh — yup. I went to an audition last week for my absolute favorite new show (A Gentlemen’s Guide to Love & Murder), wrote down two roles only, and didn’t get a callback. I get it for D’Ysquith Family, I’m not a dude, and while the role plays multiple roles one of which is a woman, it’s only ever been done by a man as far as I know. But I can only speculate for Sibella, and you never know exactly why you got passed over. Front runners for the “why not me” this time include voice type (the audition announcement had noted they would love to see people with opera experience) and age. I think I have a legit voice, and I have legit roles on my resume (Guenevere in Camelot, Antonia in Man of La Mancha), but I do not have opera training. I think I’m looking pretty good for my age, but I am not 30. But DAMN, I still know I’d be a saucy minx of a Sibella.
Sigh. And on to the next. And I know I’m not supposed to be auditioning for 2019 stuff right now, because I’d be borrowing against my 2020 shows. But I really wasn’t that excited about much of what’s been announced for 2020, so I took a shot here. It was my first audition in 2019! But I just saw an interesting announcement earlier this week, so maybe another shot is imminent…you never know.
REJECTION LIST — Shows/roles I’ve auditioned for in the last few years where I didn’t get a callback at all:
Jekyll & Hyde/Lucy and Nellie
Bridges of Madison County/Francesca
Million Dollar Quartet/Dianne
Billy Elliott/Dead Mum
Bullets Over Broadway/Helen and Ellen
Guys and Dolls/Adelaide
Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat/Narrator*
Sweeney Todd/Mrs. Lovett
Mamma Mia/Donna* (2x!)
A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder/Sibella and D’Ysquith Family
*role was cast with an Equity contract