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Embracing the fun challenge of my first leading role

Austin Wells, Editor

(ROCKWALL, TX – April 7, 2017) The Rockwall Community Playhouse’s next production of the season is a play called Pillow Talk, and last weekend they held auditions for it. So I decided to go out for one of the lead roles. Not the lead role, mind, but one of the main characters in the show.

I was coming off two days of feeling flat out miserable, having caught some sort of illness that had my entire body feeling like it had been crushed by a boulder and battling a dreadful fever. It was not fun times, for sure. I worried that I wouldn’t recover in time to go audition, because I had really been looking forward to this play since I heard about it last year. I felt I had a decent shot at getting a role, but I was never too sure about it.

I went up to audition on Sunday night, feeling semi-confident but mostly just nervous with excitement and anticipation. I ended up reading for the part I went out for only once and several times for the actual lead role, which surprised me because twin brother Preston, who has much more stage acting experience than I, was auditioning alongside me for the lead. At the end of it I walked away feeling like I would be offered a role, I just wasn’t sure what that role would be.

But wouldn’t you know it, I got offered the lead!

It’s my first ever lead role and I couldn’t be more exhilarated at the opportunity. And what’s even better is Preston ended up getting the part I went out for, and his wife Victoria, my sister-in-law, even got a couple of minor roles in the play. So I get to do community theatre again with family! The last time we were in anything together was the spring of last year, in a play called Love, Sex & the IRS. Some of you might recall the hilariously flashy ‘70s costumes and décor from that show if you saw it. And you might’ve recognized Preston and Victoria on stage, but most definitely not me, as I was decked out in a curly wig, sunglasses and an orange suit with leopard print platform shoes in my role as Arnold Grunion.

Pillow Talk is romantic comedy set in 1950s New York, so the costumes will be a little bit more elegant this time around I suspect. I’m already having a lot of fun with it, but it’s been a bit of a learning process for me in trying to memorize my lines and blocking. And the character I’m playing – a songwriter named Brad Allen – is really nothing like me at all. But that’s the challenge in acting that I’m growing to love, trying to set myself aside for 4-5 nights every week and engage in this fictional character’s lifestyle, his attitude, and his motivations.

I’ve picked up a few helpful methods to get me through the whole nerve-wracking memorizing lines process. I read through the entire script several times to get as familiar as I can with the story, the characters, what’s going on in any one scene. That way when we rehearse a scene, I at least know the context of it and what my character’s motivations are in that particular scene, or what he’s trying to accomplish in it. I’m finding the toughest part about line memorization is that you not only have to know your lines, you have to be familiar with your line cues as well – what another character says or does to prompt your next line. And when you have a lot of lines like I do in this play, it can get overwhelming at times. But like I said, I revel in the challenge.

We’ve only been rehearsing for a week now, but I can already tell this is going to be an amazing show! The show opens May 12 at RCP, and will run through three weekends with the last performance on May 28. Showtimes are 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 2 p.m. on Sundays. Tickets will be on sale soon, and I highly recommend you get them when you can! They’ll be available online at rockwallcommunityplayhouse.com.

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