Hit or Miss

I auditioned for GREASE the other day. I wasn’t expecting much. I just hoped that I would at least get cast in the chorus and have the chance to sing and dance (which I love to do).

But no. The cast list went up tonight and I was cast as Eugene, the “class valedictorian.” That’s right — the school nerd. As immortalized by Eddie Deezan in the film version.

I’m been running from the image of Eddie all my life. One of my favorite movies as a kid was Midnight Madness — I longed to be a member of the cool, regular-joe Yellow Team, but I knew people saw me as a member of the White Team, the moped-riding geeks. That’s the kind of guy I was as a kid and I hated every minute of it. I cringed everytime I saw a movie featuring Eddie being made fun of, because I saw myself and the way that I was treated by others.

But then I discovered theatre and things changed (a little, but enough). I got cast against type. When I acted, I was able to show my peers that I could actually do something that they thought was kind of cool and that I was kind of good at it. It was theatre that lifted me out of the depression of my adolescene and gave me the strength and courage to grow up and face the world.

I’m sure that Eddie is a nice guy in real life and he’s made a nice career for himself playing an easily-recognizable type, but I don’t want to be that guy again. I haven’t done any theatre in four years, and I miss it enormously. But I don’t know that I could go through all the psychic and emotional baggage that playing that role might dredge up.

Maybe I wouldn’t be so upset if I was getting the chance to sing and dance. But I don’t want to be that guy who dances awkwardly for a laugh, and Eugene is reportedly not a singing role (if nothing else, I found this great theatre role resource, stageagent.com).

Maybe I’m making too much of this. But I couldn’t bring myself to initial next to my name on the cast list. I’m probably going to call the director tomorrow and ask her if I can just be in the chorus. I’ve just got to figure out all this stuff going on in my head before the first rehearsal Wednesday night.

Update inside.

5 responses so far (Respond)

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six degrees of dlevy:
Midnight Madness was written (and directed?) by David Wechter.

David Wechter co-wrote the original story that became The Faculty with Bruce Kimmel.

Bruce Kimmel employs dlevy.

dlevy | 13 Jun 2001
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Hey, I played Eugene in a high-school production of “Grease!” I know I was worried about the nerd thing, too.

Roll with it, hon. Play it for all it’s worth. Be the best nerd you can be.
“But I don’t want to be that guy who dances awkwardly for a laugh”.
That depends on your director. I don’t recall there being anything scripted that said Eugene was to dance awkwardly…but, then again, it has been almost 20 years (!) since I did the play.

mattee | 13 Jun 2001
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I called the director today and turned down the part. She was surprised, but she understood. She’s letting me just be in the chorus, so I’m happy.

I think what I was really worried about was not the past, but the present. I’m an adult and I still get made fun of all the time by my coworkers. Since they all said they wanted to come see the show, I didn’t want to give them any more ammunition for teasing me.

Matt | 13 Jun 2001
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I know I am a little late on the board but…

I directed GREASE last year with a youth group that I help out with. And unfortunately didn’t have enough guys to play all the parts so had to take on one of the roles.

However, they way I got rid of one of the characters and the way I know that the new Broadway cast did it was to have Eugene sing au la Elvis one of the versus to “Hand Jive” it was funny and very cool and the kid playing Eugene (even though he really wanted the part) was hyped to play the other side of it too.

I have been in theatre a long ass time, and gotten some roles that I just didn’t want to play. But if you really want to get a better role later, take the crap role and make it bigger then life. Show them that that part isn’t as small as they think.

It sounds hockey but upstage every no talent actor that got to be a T-bird by being that good.

Trust me it works. I went from a froo froo director in “Singing in the Rain” to Pseudelus in “A Funny thing Happened on the way to the Forum”.

Sorry from being back in Highschool I always hated those girls that would be crying over a highschool musical when they didn’t get the lead and dropped out because they didn’t want chorus. And yet had the nerve to still expect the lead the next year. IF THE DIRECTOR DOESN’T SEE YOU AT ALL, HOW ARE THEY GOING TO KNOW YOU CAN DO A BETTER JOB?

Just a personal beef of mine. I am glad you stayed in the show though Matt. I hope things went well for you.

Teddy | 7 Aug 2001
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As a profesional tech all over the country for over 20 years [and an actor early on] I understand the problem, but take any roles you can get. that’s how you get to hone your craft so you have the ability to prove in auditions that you have the ability to make yourself the roll: the nerd rolls, bad guys, handicaped, ect. are the hard ones and the ones that hone your skills. Good luck If you want it go after it and work hard at what you get. If you feel you would be better at one roll than another ask to audition specificaly for it but be prepared. any experience at all adds to your resume. that alone makes producers and directors look at you.

tim | 13 Jan 2002