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The Industry
A theatre director, actor and actress rehearsing on stage A theatre director, actor and actress rehearsing on stage

Image Credit: LightField Studios / iStock

Our favourite audition stories submitted by Spotlight members for World Theatre Day

Every 27 March, the performing arts community celebrates World Theatre Day, a time to commemorate the art of theatre. Initiated by the International Theatre Institute back in 1961, World Theatre Day commemorates its importance to the arts, not just to performers, but people and audiences around the world. 

The origins of stage performance are said to be traced back all the way to Ancient Greece, around 2,500 years ago. Civilisation has obviously evolved massively in that time, along with the artform spreading all over the world, but the rules of theatre have remained largely the same. From the Athens ‘Theatre of Dionysus’ to the London Palladium, there is something remarkably romantic about performance and spectator theatre elements that have stood the test of time. Theatre remains a huge part of our industry, and as our members always testify – there’s no feeling quite like being on stage. 

If you’ve ever auditioned for a theatre production as an actor, chances are you have a memorable audition story to tell. To celebrate World Theatre Day, Spotlight asked our members to share their happy and hilarious tales from the audition room.

Now, from the brilliant to the bizarre, here are some of the best replies to inspire and entertain you:


I once had to do an audition fully dressed as a cat – I’m talking a full cat skin outfit. Suddenly, we get a knock at the door of the studio from ARMED POLICE asking us, with no explanation to, “Stay away from the windows in case any shots were fired.” Completely shocked, we carried on with the rest of the audition, and I spent the rest of it wondering if I was going to die or not! – Lisa Lynn

Don’t Forget to Bring a Tissue

Way, way back in the 1980s, I was auditioning for RADA and decided that Falstaff was the way to go (for an 18 year old skinny girl… What was I thinking?!). I gave the performance of my life, or so I thought, adding a forward roll at the start to add a punchy entrance. Of course, doing a forward roll on a solid wood floor was not a good idea, and as I rolled forward into a cross-legged sitting position, I promptly had a huge nosebleed which proceeded to pour down my face and into my mouth.

The auditioning panel didn’t react at all, just continued staring at me in silence as I carried on, terrified, wiping the blood away until the speech was over, ending with a huge, blood-soaked, sticky smile and a bow, as if I’d planned the whole thing! What a professional! Most embarrassing moment of my life and – shockingly! – I didn’t get a call back. – Sonia Dynevor

Musical Directors Have Mood Swings, Too

I travelled five hours to get to an audition in London and walked into the audition room, having been asked to prepare four songs (and learn both tenor and bass harmonies for three of them). I got five or six seconds into the first song, and the musical director pulled me up for singing the word ‘wind’ instead of ‘winds’. The musical director stops playing, rolls his eyes, and says, “There’s more than one wind,” then played the rest of the song at double time. I was a bit thrown to say the least!

He finished by going, “Have you even looked at the song?” The director, who was clearly a little embarrassed and trying to keep the tone positive, said, “Do you want to hear anything else?” and the musical director says, “No,” and walked out. I did the rest of the audition – the monologue and such – and shook hands with the audition panel as I left. I found the musical director sitting in the café outside and went to say, “Thank you.” He dropped my hand immediately and walked away. – Liam McGrath

Can You Fix It? Yes, You Can!

I smashed through the floor with a huge hammer whilst auditioning to be a builder. They loved it and gave me the job! – Anonymous

We Just Can’t Tall-erate That

I once auditioned for S Club Juniors and, unbelievably, at 5ft4, I was told I was too tall! – Anonymous

That’s Not the ‘Roll’ I Wanted!

One time, I put on roller skates for Starlight Express and went right off the stage into the stalls! Mark Binmore

Of course, it’s not just those starting out who have unforgettable tales from auditions. Matt LeBlanc (‘Joey’ from Friends) had a rather strange experience when he showed up with half his face missing for his final callback for the hit show:

“I remember I had gone in a bunch of times and I think it was on the final callback, I had gone with a friend of mine to run lines,” LeBlanc recalled during the Friends Reunion in 2021. As the show was about ‘a group of friends’, Matt’s friend suggested going out drinking to get into character.

“To make a long story short, I woke up in the middle of the night at his apartment and had to go to the bathroom,” LeBlanc explained. “I got up too fast and, I can’t believe I’m telling this, but I kind of blacked out – as you do – and fell face-first into the toilet, hit my nose on the bottom of the toilet seat, and a huge chunk of meat came off my nose. And I’m looking in the mirror, it’s bleeding, and I’m like, ‘Oh, my God. I have to go in for the big callback and [there’s] a big ugly scab on my nose.’”

Despite LeBlanc thinking he’d ruined his chances, the creators of the hit show thought it related so much to the character of ‘Joey’ being cast, they decided to give him the role! Proof that you just never know what’s going to happen in an audition!

A big thank you to everyone who shared their memorable audition stories with us! Take a look at the other theatre news and advice on our website.