Heritage High Thespians Explore Challenges of Virtual Life in ‘Bad Auditions’

By Katelyn Preble, Heritage High School

“A plague,” ham, and Vanilla Ice, what couldn’t go wrong? Freedom High School’s original piece, “Bad Auditions,” pays homage to the many technical issues students face every day in virtual school while also showing us that maybe not everyone is meant to play “Romeo and Juliet.” 

“Bad Auditions” was written entirely by students collaborating virtually from a distance. It follows Director Rebecca and Assistant Director Christie as they conduct auditions for the community production of “Romeo and Juliet.” Many different people come to audition, and their performances are far from perfect. The play was not only extremely captivating but hilarious throughout.

Many of the actors showed phenomenal versatility as many played multiple roles. Specifically, Jacob Neale, playing Jacob Squat and Albert, committed fully to his odd characters with exquisite attention to detail. Accents, physical mannerisms, and even camera angles, the two wildly different characters were skillfully kept separate yet both so entertaining and humorous. Christian Jarwa, playing Arlo, showed amazing characterization. Even as he repeated “Can I start over?” again and again, Jarwa said it differently each time making the scene flow well and continue to be entertaining throughout his character’s audition. Finally, Ivy Ridenhour did an exceptional job of ending the piece. Her character Jenna finished off the auditions by performing the assigned monologue, memorized, with great acting, and took the director’s notes. It was the perfect way to end the piece.

Another pair of actresses to commend was Maiti McKenna and Shannon Herrmann, playing Director Rebecca and AD Christie. They played so well off each other. The many students working together to create the script made the wonderful choice for the two characters to have opposing character traits: Rebecca being more pessimistic and impatient with the auditionees and Christie being optimistic and making humor of the situation. Seeing as they were constantly on the video, McKenna and Herrmann’s execution of their lines and this relationship filled the space between each audition and kept the audience engaged. 

The production wouldn’t have been complete without the wonderful work executed by the different technical crews. For starters, the script writers did a wonderful job of creating a broad range of characters, each with their own quirks. Even though some characters were only on for a minute or so, the piece flowed seamlessly. The attention to detail was shown wonderfully with the costuming and backdrops. The choice to make the background and costume of each character’s audition simple and monochromatic kept the focus on the actor while each portion was filmed from the comfort of their own home. 

Freedom High School’s creation of “Bad Auditions” remarkably showed that it takes wonderful actors and actresses to perform the worst of auditions. In our current climate, it is the perfect show to lighten up your Google Meet troubles and satisfy your longing for theatre to come back to the stage.

From left, Maiti McKenna, Maeleigh Moore, and Shannon Herrmann perform in a virtual presentation of “Bad Auditions.”

[This review of the Jan. 16 performance of  Bad Auditions at Freedom High School is part of a series published in a partnership between Loudoun Now and  The Cappies, a writing and awards program that trains high school theater and journalism students to be expert writers, critical thinkers, and leaders.]

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