Letting Go of the “Dream Role”

Christina Giannelli

Like most performers I too have, the list. You know what I’m talking about. If you are a performer, you have it as well. I’m talking about the “Dream Role” list. Those roles and characters you dream of playing. Those roles you drool over and would probably give an arm and a leg to play.

While there is nothing wrong with this, it can be inspirational and for those of us who have the chance to play those roles, amazing. It can also just be more of a hindrance. To see yourself as only these parts and to base your success on whether or not you are cast in them is really a disservice to yourself. And sometimes, no matter how much we may love a certain role it just isn’t for us and can really become a problem if we are not able to objectively see that. Plus, think of all the missed opportunities!!

I was recently in a production of “Shrek; The Musical”. I love this show, as corny as it is. I have children and they also love this show. It is fun, it has a great message and some really great moments. One of the roles on my list is Princess Fiona. She’s spunky, she’s funny, she’s a little dorky, she’s a princess!! I completely see myself as these things but when I walk onto a stage it is not what others see. So,I did not play this role. I played the Wicked Witch and it was great. I would have loved to play Fiona, I would still love to play Fiona but I probably never will and it makes me a little sad, of course, but it’s the truth. While I do feel like I could bring so much to the part, I am not what anyone would picture her to be.

There is another group in my area who will soon be auditioning for this show and every part of me would love to go out for it but I know I’m not “right” for the part, no matter how much I love it. I may still try for it but knowing that it is a long shot. And that’s ok. It is ok to love a part and to fantasize about playing it but to also realize that it may never happen and to make peace with that. You are not a failure if you never grace the stage as “Fantine” or “Maria” or whatever other iconic role you have stuck in your head. I am not a failure if I never get to have a “fart-off” alongside an ogre. I played a kick ass “Wicked Witch” and I am good with that.

I’ve seen people become so fixated on a certain part it begins to ruin the experience. They see an audition notice for a show with a role on that list and become so intent on living out that fantasy they can’t see straight. They don’t take the time to objectively decide on whether or not this is a part that actually suits them and end up broken-hearted when it doesn’t happen. Or they are well matched for the role and don’t wind up with it because someone else was just better suited for it and are now angry that they were robbed of their dream. So they will walk away from the show and all the opportunities there may have been there for them.

Another part I’ve always dreamed of playing is “Maureen” in Rent but guess what? I’m thirty five with a total “mom body”. It’s not happening. Ever. Oh, and “Roxie Hart”? I freaking love that role but there’s a tiny problem...I can’t dance. At all. So there goes that one too. Oh well. I may never play any of those roles I’ve dreamed of but I am still a talented person who can have valuable, worthwhile experiences on the stage.

It is okay to dream. It is okay to fantasize. It is even okay to go for that role should you get the opportunity to do so. You may get it or you may not. Whether or not you ever check off any roles on that list….repeat after me….it is okay.

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