Believe it or not, this coming January marks the 25th Anniversary of the indie classic "Waiting for Guffman". The mockumentary from the genius that is Christopher Guest, centered on an aspiring director and the marginally talented amateur cast of a hokey small-town Missouri musical production.
What made this film so memorable, and required viewing for any theatre person, is not only the humor but also how well they nailed the culture that is small-town community theatre. Here are 5 of the many things that this movie got completely right.
1. The Auditions
Community theatre auditions can range from brilliant to downright terrible. And while the overwhelming majority of auditions I see are well prepared, there are some that make me wonder if the person auditioning, knows what they're doing.
This scene, which doesn't even include the hilarious/all too real one-man version of "Raging Bull" perfectly demonstrates the variety that can be seen during some of these auditions.
2. Community Theatre Divas
One thing I can't stand are community theatre divas. Don't get me wrong, I have no problem with self confidence, but when it gets to the point that you think you're better than everyone else and treating them that way, reality needs to trump delusion..
3. Asking For More Money
It happens. You're in the midst of trying to produce a local show and you need more money. Asking for more money from a board or town is never easy. It's also never fun when they say no. I've bitten my pillow too on many occasions.
4. Original Productions
Purchasing the rights to do shows is expensive. So if budgets are tight, many community theatres will produce their own original material. Some of it can be great, other times, not so much. Either way, it's great to see people's creativity when funds are tight.
5. The Dreamer
One of the sad and realistic story lines in the movie is Libby, the Dairy Queen girl who has dreams of getting out of her small town and making it to Broadway. When that doesn't pan out, Parker Posey's performance is all too real. But within every small local theatre company, there are people who dream of making it big, And if those lofty goals spur on hard work and dedication to this thing we call theatre, that's not a bad thing at all.