- OnStage Editor-in-Chief
- Twitter: @CMPeterson81
Over the years, I’ve had the privilege of working with some amazing people in various productions; people who sacrifice so much time and always bring a positive attitude. I wouldn’t hesitate to work with these folks again.
Then there is the flip side—those who seem to ruin every production they’re involved with or ruin theatre altogether for others. I can’t stand these people, and try to avoid working with them as much as possible. So here is a list of the worst people in theatre who I’ve either worked with or encountered in some fashion. Some of these might sound familiar.
Since you seemed to have loved Part 1...here's part 2.
Some of these came from our readers themselves.
Yes, sadly there are more of these people....
"The Tomato Saucier"
We're told constantly not to eat in costume. If I had a penny for every time a stage manager told me that, I could fly myself to Vegas. It's almost unbelievable that some performers still do this. I call them the "The Tomato Saucier" because just like eating tomato sauce: actors eating in costume is always going to make a mess, either on their costume or worse yet, yours.
You worked hard to earn your theatre degree. You poured in hours and hours to pass each course, learn new skills, perform in a variety of shows. So why are there some people out there who enjoy telling you how much better their training was than yours? Your college did Crimes of the Heart? Their college performed The Cherry Orchard...in the original Russian. You worked with Fresnels and PARcans? They worked with equipment to project a Laurence Olivier hologram for their production of The Scottish Play. You got to work with former Broadway actors as guest artists? Their college had Lin-Manuel Miranda on retainer.
It doesn't matter how great of a college experience you had, or how in depth your training was, "The Valedictorian" had it better than you and has no problem telling you that.
Don't get me wrong, love can happen anywhere, even in the theatre. I've known dozens of successful relationships, marriages, etc, that began between two people working on the same show. But for every fairy-tale romance, there's the flip side. For every gentleman, there is "The Assanova".
"The Assanova" is the person who would rather spend rehearsal time looking for their next lay than rehearsing the play(ooh that rhymed). It would be one thing if "The Assanova" wanted something truly substantial but all it's looking for is some action. It doesn't matter if "The Assanova" is married or has a significant other, they will use the same tactics, lies, stories and methods to prey upon naive cast/crew mates. Even worse, they have the same routine and it usually works. So if you see "The Assanova" in the beginning stages of their story about how they once understudied for Matthew Broderick or showing their scars from a set building accident, run for the hills and take whoever their talking to with you.
"The On Again-Off Again Showmancers"
Overhearing relationship issues unfold in the most dramatic fashion is bad enough. Now imagine it happening in a small confined space such as a rehearsal or dressing room. And instead of irritating your circle of friends, it disrupts people trying to their job to the point that it hinders them from effectively doing it. That's the impact of "The On Again-Off Again Showmancers", people who can't help but bring their relationship issues to rehearsals or backstage with them.
"The Simpleton Critic"
As a theatre critic, I consider myself very lucky. I get to spend a lot of my time watching theatre, the ticket is usually free and most times the cast I'm watching, does amazing work all the while knowing that I, and every other critic, is in the audience on that particular night. So the very least I could so is give their performance a thorough and professional review. Too many times I've seen critics give the most simplistic, usually negative, reviews that look like they took 5 minutes to write.
A recent critic of the new musical Anastasia, called some of the design work simply "ugly" and then moved on. While he was not only wrong in his perception of the design, the fact that he didn't even go into more detail was disrespectful to the artists themselves. Performers and creative teams deserve thorough reviews from the people who were given free tickets to see them. Even if the work isn't great, it at least warrants more than one word descriptions.
"The Row-F Tony Winner"
Thank you to Kyrra Gelinas for the idea for this.
Have you ever gone to a musical and throughout the performance, the person sitting behind, aside and in front of you, is singing along with the folks on stage? It's incredibly annoying and disruptive and ruins the experience for the people around them, every time.
"The Row F Tony Winner" is someone who memorized these lyrics so well, they want everyone around them to know them as well by singing along during the show. I went to a performance of Fiddler on the Roof and sure enough, there was a woman behind me who felt she could play the role of Golde just as good as the person on stage....she was incorrect in that assessment.
Broadway shows aren't concerts, they're not children theatre sing-a-longs, they're not late night karaoke sessions. Unless prompted to sing along in numbers like "In Just No Time At all" from Pippin, please shut up. We paid $100+ plus to hear Leslie Odom Jr. sing, not you.
I wrote about this a while ago, but something that annoys me in college/community theatre, is when actors who are expected to help out with strike, bolt from the theatre or refuse to help out. I understand that in some cases this is good thing for safety and organization reasons but in smaller companies and programs, help during these strikes is sorely needed.
"The On-Striker" is someone who despite your requests, SM assignment sheets, etc, will skip out on strike simply because they feel it's not their job and they've done enough work already. Require them to help out at strike? You're now Joseph Pulitzer and they're singing "The World Will Know". Asking them to pick up a screw gun is like asking them to pull the sword from the stone. Sweeping a stage or cleaning a dressing room is an easy task to you, but to them it's Jean Valjean's prison camp and you're Javert. I've got 24601 problems and one of them is the "The On-Strikers".
"The [Director's Name] Community Theatre Touring Company"
In my area there is a director who will consistently cast the same group of people in every single one of their shows. It's gotten to the point that most in the community call it "The [Director's Name] Touring Company", because it's a given that they will cast their small group of friends in every show she does. I hate this practice because I feel it cuts off opportunities for other actors to play great roles. I don't mind if a director wants to cast their friends in their shows, just be honest about it or start your own company. Don't bring your favoritism to every theatre you work at.
I'll be doing more of these, so please keep your suggestions coming!