“Bad Auditions…On Camera” is just fun. Sheer, uncomplicated fun. It has an amazingly large cast — 19 in all — that manage to create their characters and have fun with them, in about three minutes each. This is a perfect show for an on-line environment and for a comedic actor. Each gets uninterrupted time to be funny.
This show delivers something rather important right now — laughs.
…Spend an hour laughing and you’ll be glad you did.
The premise is simple. A casting director has one day to fill a role for a hit TV series. Back in the office, his rather loquacious assistant, Regina (an increasingly addled Betsy Hansen), has set up the appointments, sent out the monologue, and is trying to keep things moving.
Betsy Hansen understands comedy with an edge. An ebullient and driven assistant (who’s not quite as organized as she believes) on the surface, she is actually reaching the “I don’t care” stage of dealing with her boss who is known as the Casting Director (played by Stub Estey, who is resorting to a flask and eventually the bottle). You can watch Regina start checking out when he starts begging her to help him save his job. Regina doesn’t care who gets the job. She just wants the casting director to make a choice.
While watching the credits, you will notice that Estey, in real life, is the assistant to the assistant director, who happens to be Betsy Hansen, who as Regina, plays his assistant. This cast and crew obviously enjoy games within games.
Then the parade of hopefuls start. This cast obviously had fun with portraying insecure, needy, condescending, confused, perfectionist, clueless, and, in a couple of cases, seriously unhinged, actors. What made it particularly funny is that everyone starts out with the classic, thank-you-so- much-for-this-opportunity schtick and then, they just go off the rails. The rails were pretty shaky to start with.
A couple of standouts included Sarah L. Hoy as the perfectionist Phyllis. She is talented but so insecure and anxious that her meltdown was frightening. Then there is Gloria, whose persona is in the form of a funny-but-scary cheerleader puppet (voiced by director Sonia E. Bronder). Bill Kaffenberger plays Ret. Sgt. Roger Grievous who tried to stage a military coup over Zoom. The prize for best deadpan performance, on and off screen, should go to Micki Lindquist as Rory. She channels Marie Antoinette, including the powdered wigs. Do not suggest it’s only a costume, and make sure you really end the call before you talk about her.
The entire cast deserves kudos for bringing to life their characters in just a very few minutes. These include Sonia E. Bronder as Gina Marie (she might be abandoning her child — hard to tell); Jeff Walker as Kellin, an over-the-top “theatuh actuh;” Kateri Davis as the fast-speaking Tandy; Joe Barbee as Jeff; Greg Leggott as Greg who couldn’t stay on camera to save his life; Danette Illig as Wendy, who was at the wrong audition; Jennifer Thomas as Erica (life is literally a musical to her); AJ Ruhnke as EB and Karishma Ruhnke as Kat, a teenage brother and sister — actor and dancer, respectively — who have a sibling rivalry demonstration during the audition; Diana Sage as Juliette who just loves to cook; Marianna Ban as Carmen; and Jenna Rose Stein as Uma whose strongest gift is malapropisms.
All the rehearsals were held online. The cast took care of their own clothing, set dressing, hair, and makeup. Director Sonia E. Bronder kept things fast-paced and on point. Bronder took care of multiple aspects of the production from casting and directing, to film production and editing. This is a seamless show technically.
The play was written by Ian McWethy and Carrie McCrossen, with some additional scenes written by Sonia and John Bronder, Debra Smyers, and Betsy Hansen. This show delivers something rather important right now — laughs. It’s fun, charming, and fluffy as a delightfully warm comforter. Spend an hour laughing and you’ll be glad you did.
Running Time: Approximately one hour and 10 minutes without intermission.
“Bad Auditions…On Camera” runs through February 27, 2021, in a virtual environment, by Fauquier Community Theatre in Warrenton, VA. Once you purchase a ticket, you will have full access for 24 hours through Broadway on Demand (sign up is free). For more information, please click here.