Musical Theatre

Let’s talk about musical theatre and its role in perpetuating identity and inadequacy complexes in people who are already unhinged.

Every year at the Newman Center in Columbia, Mo., we put on a fundraising musical. The whole musical is student-written, produced and directed. I have been involved in the musical since I came to college. I was in it when I was a freshman, I wrote/adapted it when I was a sophomore and I was also in it. Last year as a junior, I co-wrote it and directed it. This year, I co-wrote it again and I am going to direct it as well. So it’s safe to say that I have a very long history with the Annual Newman Week Musical. I have been a part of it’s preparation and production for the past three years and a part of its leadership for the past two.

In addition to my experience with the Newman Musical, I have a fairly extensive theatre and acting background. I have been taking musical theatre, acting, and vocal lessons since I was 6 years old. I’ve been going to auditions for as long and I was in a commercial when I was 8 years old. Suffice it to say, I know my way around theatre, I know my way around public speaking and I know my way around auditions.

That being said, I have been rejected more times than I can count for all sorts of roles. I’ve auditioned for so many commercials and plays, I don’t remember half of them. I landed a few roles. Most of the time I didn’t. It was difficult the first few times, especially since I was 6 years old, but I gradually learned not to take the rejection personally. Hell, my freshman year when I auditioned for the Newman Musical I didn’t get a role until one of the original cast members dropped before winter break. Sami had to call me the week before I left after the first official read-through to ask me if I would step in instead. So trust me, I’m no stranger to rejection.

And let’s be honest. Rejection sucks. It makes you feel small, inadequate and all around not good. And, if you get rejected enough times at an early age, it can cause all sorts of complexes that will manifest themselves in awkward and kind of creepy ways when you get older. And that was me. I was all sorts of rejected when I was only 6 years old. I know what it feels like. I’ve felt it more times than I can count.

That being said, I thought that the receiving end was the worst. Little did I realize that the giving end was just as bad.

Last year, just enough people auditioned that we were able to give everyone a part in the musical. Alas, this year was not the case. Seventeen people auditioned for an 11-person cast. There are six women in the cast. Guess how many women came to audition this year?


And it wasn’t like in my sophomore year when just one extra woman came to audition. They didn’t want to have to tell her no, so the directors called me in (I was the writer that year, remember) and asked me to create a new character on the fly. So I sat down with them as they made their casting calls and created a new character out of thin air. That was easy because it was just one extra person.

We couldn’t do that this year. We’d have to create six extra characters to accommodate everyone and I don’t know if you’ve seen Newman’s stage, but it is minuscule. Not to mention, it would completely screw up the entire musical structure.

So it was obvious that we were going to have to make some pretty substantial cuts, bigger than in years past. We had to cut six girls and unfortunately since I’m the director, I was charged with the happy task of calling them and letting them know.

What was worse was that some of these girls are my friends. I had to tell my friends (even people who were in it last year) that we couldn’t offer them a role. I could practically feel the disappointment radiating through the phone.

You know how much that sucks? It might be worse than being rejected.

But THE absolute worst is when people get angry with you for the rejection. Which is what I feel is happening right now. I seriously don’t know how people can do this all the time. If being a director was my main occupation, I’d literally rip my hair out. I’d be bald by now.

I guess I have to remind myself that this is just a CHURCH FUNDRAISER. In the grand scheme of things, IT REALLY SHOULDN’T MATTER.

And I hope that others can remember that as well.


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