This Sunday, the newly-reopened Yucca Theater will host the kickoff party and auditions for Summer Mummers. It is, without a doubt, one of my favorite days of the year.
In some ways, it's a reunion. We all run into each other from time to time, but this is the first time that we are all in the same place at the same time. In other ways, it's an opportunity to meet new people. New friends, new potential castmates, and new romantic partners often find each other at the kickoff party. All of these bonds are formed over a couple of hours enjoying BBQ and beer.
After the party ends, the auditions begin. People get onstage and read scenes from the melodrama. They show off their goofiness in the Olio auditions. Dancers stretch their legs and the limits of spandex during their auditions. Sexy ladies strut the stage in hopes of being the next Card Girl.
As you can imagine, nerves are fluttering for many. It's especially tough for first-timers. They walk in the door to see droves of people who are all old friends. First-timers may even notice people walking around who have been seen on the Mummers stage for years. Thoughts go racing through a first-timer's mind. "These people are funnier than me." "Everybody knows each other." "I have no shot."
Yes, you do. You have a huge shot. How do I know? Because all of us once had a shot. At auditions, it's a clean slate. A first-timer has just as much of a shot as a veteran. Believe me, there have been many times where a veteran was not cast, and a fresh-faced auditionee has gotten the chance to shine. If you are thinking about auditioning, please remember this simple fact: you have just as much of a chance to get on the cast list as the next guy. Take that spot.
Nerves are also a factor for veterans. As I said before, nobody is guaranteed a spot. Over time, though, certain people have been fortunate enough to play the same part multiple times. They associate those roles with good times, and don't want to let those roles slip away. So they are fighting for those roles, just to get up there for a little while longer and make a few more memories. I've had dear friends audition for roles that they have mastered, possibly even redefined, and end up absent from the cast list. That's a tough pill to swallow for many.
If I am lucky enough to be cast, this will be my 14th year in a row to play the Hero's Sidekick. Although I love the role, nerves are no longer an issue. Don't think that I'm going into this thinking that I've got it in the bag. I don't. I never will. I wouldn't want it that way. Nerves are no longer a factor, because I've realized that life without Mummers exists. If I don't see my name on the cast list, I will be the first one to go to the new Hero's Sidekick, shake his hand, and offer any guidance needed. In a weird way, I WANT somebody to take that spot. Why? Because if he beat me for a role that I've had since 2002, he must be one entertaining dude. And if he's funnier than me, I want to be front-and-center opening night to watch him kick some popcorn-covered booty.
This Sunday, it all begins again. Earn a spot. Work hard. And most importantly, have fun.