Audition of her lifetime
Photos and Story by James Hill
McKenna Twedt waited a lifetime to do this.
Twedt, a theater arts student at Portland Community College’s Sylvania Campus, was alerted to a casting call for the Broadway production of "Rent" in New York City last Thanksgiving. Her parents gave her the go ahead and she quickly booked a flight with a friend to the Big Apple.
"It was unbelievable," remembered the 20-year-old Tigard native. "We had to be at the theater at 9:30 a.m. and we got there an hour early and there were 400 people in line. We waited and made some great friends standing in line. We met professional actors who told us what not to do and what to do when auditioning for this type of musical."
In total, Twedt and her friend, numbers 497 and 498 in line respectively, spent 4.5 hours in line. When they finally entered the theater, they were ordered into two sets of small lines and brought out onto the stage. Each person in line was selected based on looks and picked to go downstairs to singing auditions. Unfortunately, Twedt didn’t advance in the auditions, but says she wouldn’t have traded the audition experience for anything in the world.
"It was a fantastic experience," she said. "I’d never been to New York and our hotel was a half a block from Times Square. I got to talk with a lot of people."
Twedt had never acted until she reached PCC. Her first play was last year’s "The Diviner’s" and she followed it up by getting involved in "The Vagina Monologues" and working in all aspects of production in last spring’s "Student One Act Plays."
"In high school I was too shy to do theater," Twedt said. "But I wanted to break out of my shell so I took my first acting class from (retired faculty) Sue Parks-Hilden and she was so supportive. I want to learn as much as I can and take in as much as PCC has to offer."
You can see Twedt in action in the upcoming production of "Urinetown: The Musical" at the Sylvania Campus Performing Arts Center. Twedt is playing a police officer and the role of Tiny Tom in the play, which runs from March 9-11 and 16-19.
"McKenna is one of our finest students," said Michael Najjar, theater arts instructor and "Urinetown" director. "She has played many major roles in our main stage and student one-act productions, has worked closely with me as a student assistant in my acting classes, and has been involved in nearly every aspect of our program. She is one of those students who really believes in the theater and wants to pursue it as a career. We feel that it’s our obligation to help students achieve their dreams, and we hope that we can help McKenna achieve hers."