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Audition Horror Story: Stafford Arima

Broadway Director Stafford Arima Always Plays Safe

While holding auditions for his delicious 2012 Off-Bway re-imagining of Carrie, the legendary Stafford Arima will always remember a certain young man who was auditioning for the Male Ensemble.

Stafford: He came in and was so fantastically prepared. He began his song and started off with confidence and flair. He used his pockets — meaning he would stick his hands, sometimes just his fingers, in his jeans’ pockets. I felt that gesture or action was used to help create a physical life for the character. It really wasn’t necessary, and I will admit that it wasn’t distracting, until the last bit of the song. After having his hands in his front, right pocket for at least ten seconds, he pulled out his hand from his pocket and took with his hands two condoms (in the package) that were attached.

For a split second I felt that it was a prepared bit or a prop that he had rehearsed with. Sadly, it wasn’t.

The condom packages fell to the floor, and the actor did not use them or was even aware that he had pulled out the condoms. The team behind the desk unanimously felt that he was going to use them but he never did. He finished the song, said “thank you” and waited for the creatives to say something.

Even at this point he was still unaware what he had pulled out of his pocket. I didn’t know what to say as I didn’t want to embarrass the actor, so I said “thank you” and he left the room. I then asked the casting assistant to take the condoms out to this young actor, as I wasn’t sure if perhaps he needed them.

15 seconds later, we all heard a very loud SCREAM, which we later discovered to be the actor after being handed the two condom packages.

I guess the lesson in all of this is to be watchful what’s in your pockets as you enter an audition – especially if you’re going to use your pockets throughout your audition.

Instagram: @staffordarima
Twitter: @StaffordArima

Stafford Arima was nominated for an Olivier Award for his direction of the West End premiere of the musical, Ragtime. His production received 8 nominations including Best Musical. He directed the Broadway production of Allegiance starring George Takei and Lea Salonga.
Selected works include: Altar Boyz (received the Best Musical Outer Critics Circle Award, was nominated for a Drama Desk as Outstanding Musical, and ran over 2,000 performances Off-Broadway), Carrie (Off-Broadway revival; nominated for 5 Drama Desk Awards including Outstanding Revival of a Musical and an Outer Critics nomination for Outstanding Revival of a Musical; MCC Theater). Additionally he serves as Artistic Advisor for the Broadway Dreams Foundation.

UP NEXT: Stafford directing the world premiere of a new musical by Craig Carnelia and Joe Tracz called Poster Boy at the Williamstown Theatre Festival, July 27-August 7.

The Broadway Dreams Foundation is an international, multi-city traveling performing arts training program for all ages which is staffed with a faculty of Broadway professionals, casting directors, choreographers and agents dedicated to giving back to the theatrical community. Last week, Broadway Dreams took over Los Angeles with a faculty including Taye Diggs, Alex Newell, Ryann Redmond and Stafford Arima. To get involved visit,

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