What if you got the lead role in a play? What if in that play was a plethora of cursing, a choreographed flip-off, and staged sex?
And what if your entire family was hell-bent on coming to the University to watch you in said play?
Last semester, Nicole Boyd ’18 found herself in that predicament when she appeared in a production of “American Idiot,” the gritty musical based on Green Day songs. It’s not necessarily the kind of show you’d invite your parents and family to come see, but, alas, sometimes families do not wait to be invited.
“I was fine with my mom coming, because I talk to her about these things all the time,” Boyd said. “But my dad, on the other hand, wasn’t too keen on it. Just because I watch shows with him all the time, and we can just be flipping through the channels and usually we come across some sort of program that might have a seductive scene in it, and he’s awkward about it.”
And then there was another thing.
“My grandparents also wanted to come, and they still think I’m five at heart,” she said.
Boyd was so worried about having her grandparents in particular attend that she attempted to get her mother to talk them out of coming.
“I tried very hard to convince my mom to suggest otherwise,” she said. “My mom’s argument was that their brains are slower, so they were just going to be entertained by the dancing and all the other elements of it.”
Tesheia van der Horst ’19 has been in many similar situations.
“In high school, I was in a production of ‘Metamorphosis,’ and there was a small pool on stage,” van der Horst said. “In one scene I was supposed to be a evil water nymph, and I had to splash around in a nude body suit and make scary faces while pretending to drown a ship. Another time, when I was 12, I was in the ensemble for ‘Rent,’ and I played a prostitute and a drug dealer. Needless to say, my parents were very proud.”
Even before opening night, the road to stardom is paved not only with hard work, but also with awkward situations. Will Bosha ’19 dealt with a particularly uncomfortable situation when he played the role of Seymour in “Little Shop of Horrors” in high school.
“The girl playing Audrey, the female lead, had hooked up multiple times with a kid that I was really into in high school, and she was the worst,” he said.
As Seymour, Bosha had to kiss her, which led to some complications.
“It was like this very awkward mushy peck on the lips,” Bosha said. “It was horrible for me because the kid that I was into that hooked up with her was also in the play. At the time he didn’t know I was gay, and was jealous of me because I got to kiss this girl. So I’m on stage furious that I’m kissing this girl because she kissed this guy that’s jealous of me, [whom] I’m into. It’s like the most awkward horrible love inverted trapezoid.”
To make matters worse, the aforementioned furious antagonist acted strongly as though he wanted to either become Bosha or take his part—perhaps both.
“I was kissing this girl who I wanted to throttle, and then this kid wanted to become me because I had gotten this part,” Bosha said. “It was like that film ‘The Roommate.’ My friends started to joke, but it seemed like a real reality that he was going to murder me and say, ‘Oh I know all of his parts, you should make me the lead.’ It was so weird.”
Another behind-the-scenes element of is how an actor or actress’s relationships outside of the show come into play, particularly relationships with significant others. Aaron Joseph ’18 had the pleasure of experiencing this firsthand.
“One time I was in a play, and at the time I had a girlfriend,” Joseph said. “I kissed a girl in the play, and my girlfriend came to see the play. Upon her seeing the play I discovered that the two of them knew and hated each other. So that was awkward.”
Despite the drama and the awkwardness of parental attendance, Bosha and many other actors find the troubles they have gone through to be worth it.
“There were several incidents where, because I was in a lot of satirical plays about my old high school itself, I had to impersonate teachers or make fun of different students or faculty members who were really grumpy and not enthusiastic,” Bosha said. “You had to do that basically to their face because they’re in the audience. While it made things kind of awkward, it also made them more fun.”