by Raymond J. Lee
In December 2018, I went to one of the strangest auditions I had been to in a while. I was told I was going in for a "Winter Live Industrial" and to prepare a few scenes as well as a "Drew Gasparini"-esque song. I was also told that they might switch roles on me in the room and that I might also cold read sides. (A cold read is when you are given sides right at the audition, given a few minutes to read and prepare, and then audition in front of the team.) My agents and I had no idea what we were going in for, but hey, the gig paid and Daddy Ray has a college fund to save up for.
I am so grateful that the creative team chose me to be in the cast of what would become Skittles Commercial: The Broadway Musical. Skittles wanted to do something different for its Super Bowl ad and what better way to break the advertising mold than to create a one-performance-only Broadway musical and to donate all the proceeds to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.
The cast and I had no idea what we were in for, but we all embraced the wackiness of this whole process. Our creative team and all the behind-the-scenes people involved knew that this would be a one-of-a-kind experience. We all ended up trusting each other and going along for the ride. And what an amazing thrill ride adventure it was. In a matter of three weeks, we rehearsed, teched, shot a commercial, recorded a cast album, and opened/closed our show.
Thanks to Skittles Commercial: The Broadway Musical, the entire cast learned to work fast, be flexible, and just go with the flow. I know that sometimes as an actor, I am so focused on getting everything perfect from each word to each dance step, but because this project was a hybrid theatrical and commercial world baby, we had to be comfortable with change and also with not knowing exactly what was going to happen next. That was the biggest lesson and exercise I took with me from this entire process, and it has made me a much more flexible and stronger artist.
Our cast bonded together and really trusted each other to make this show come alive. And man we shared in all the laughs. A lot of the people on the commercial end hadn't ever put a live theatrical piece together; It was so much fun to show them what WE do as theater actors, how we create together, how we trust each other and work off each other's energy, and how much fun we have together on that stage. Plus we got to actually destroy a set during our one and only performance - how many times do we ever get to do that on stage?
I am lucky to have been involved in several shows in my career, but it is always so humbling and rewarding to embark on projects that are completely new, unpredictable, and groundbreaking. In the end, I know we are all very proud of the work we did together. And to top it all off, I have a huge Costco bag of Skittles to enjoy for the rest of this month.