Auditions are in 2 days, which means everyone is existing in a swirl of the usual pre-audition emotions: hope, fear, dread, uncertainty, anxiety, excitement, and again hope. Hope that they don’t screw up the audition — that their voices don’t crack, and they don’t stumble over their feet in the dance part or over their words in the scene reading. Hope that that girl who always gets the lead has a bad day. Hope that they’ll get to act opposite a hot guy instead of a creepy one.
Everyone is casting the show in their heads, plotting people into the roles they look like, sound like, or can handle. Once they’ve got the perfect cast set in their minds, they shuffle the deck and start all over.
But most of all, everyone is daydreaming about getting the lead — the Holy Grail of theatre.
Why does being the lead matter so much? Well, most people willing to stand on a stage in front of an audience don’t mind the spotlight. And most people who like the spotlight, really like the spotlight. They want to be in it as much as possible. As Sadie says in Bit Player, Bullies and Righteous Rebels:
Half the fun of being the lead is the build up: acting the star at rehearsals, having your cast mates look up to you, even if they’re actually criticizing you behind your back…When you’re the lead, you own the show. You’re at practically every rehearsal. If you’re not in a scene, it’s to give others a small chance to shine; it’s not like you were overlooked. After all, you’re integral to the plot.
I know, there are plenty of good parts that aren’t the lead. Every drama teacher or director I’ve ever known says every part is important, even the ensemble, and there is no such thing as a bit part, only bit players. Well, I’ve had plenty of bit parts and believe me, being the lead is a hundred times better.
If you’ve ever had the lead in a show, you know exactly what I mean.