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The Big Audition
ery actor has one. Maybe it's a casting war story or just the worst workshop experience imaginable; you know, the one at which you realize within moments that the only headshots with a prayer of being cast are those of Washington, Lincoln, and Hamilton. Now imagine Tony 'n' Tina's Wedding meets Waiting for Guffman. With twisted homage to both, this environmental showcase dropkicks its audience into a world of sidesplittingly rotten community theatre and auditions gone awry. Director Chris Berube's alter ego Skip Malone--an acting coach, formerly a child TV star of the 1970s--offers horrendously overpriced classes, including "Acting with Props" and "Intro to Jazz Hands" as part of his Showcase Hollywood Independent Theatre Ensemble, or S.H.I.T.E. Act One unfolds as various students in Malone's workshop take to the stage, rendering monologues borrowed from well-known film scripts, each more horribly hilarious than the last. There's Russian muscle thug Ilia Palinsky (Jonathan Kowalsky), Fargo-accented Jackie Niecekowski (Bess Harrison), perky infomercial babe Tammy Gapstretch (Lauren Wylie), her painfully shy intern Nicole Olson (played by Kristi Fowler on the night reviewed), teddy bear?toting Martin Applebaum (Jason Bowers), the boa-adorned Polly Plunkett (Felicia Tamika Sheppard), and theatre custodian Nimberto Gnrckmnzx (Fred Dekom). Standing out, however, is Beth Devakul as oversexed Kim Chang; her Asian take on The Blair Witch Project is performed in complete darkness with only a flashlight. And for showstopping fun, nothing tops Ethan Mechare as Sheridan Spleeth, who shares the stage with a blowup doll while using prerecorded dialogue and music for his geeky montage of scenes from Dirty Dancing. Meanwhile, Berube heckles everyone as the show takes on a Rocky Horror-type atmosphere in Act Two when unsuspecting attendees are called upon to cold read scenes with each of his students. Not as finely tuned as the monologues, it's a logical extension to the proceedings. The downside to audience participation was unfortunately illustrated by a trio of vociferous spectators who on the night reviewed came annoyingly close to crossing the line with disruptive catcalls. Berube's piece stumbles at times in the characters' needlessly raunchy banter while seated among us. The theatre's intimacy brings a feeling of embarrassment as timing lags during these exchanges. So, too, is confusing denouement sluggish, as each actor makes some life-altering discovery involving fame or fortune. Though uncredited, a functionally well-lit stage houses multipurpose wooden cubes and three doorways. Appropriate costumes appear to have been pulled together by the company. With this technical sparseness as a backdrop, Berube and his company would do well to tighten their material, perhaps making periodic revisions, thereby translating the show's noticeably cult-like feel into repeat attendanc
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