Drama and passion abound at soap opera tryouts on campus

Ryan Dionne

Four hours after running through the same dialogue with 118 students, Marnie Saitta and Keith Hamilton Cobb narrowed the competition.

Saitta, casting director for “The Young and the Restless,” and Cobb, an actor from the soap opera, auditioned students for the show Wednesday at Coffman Union.

“Anyone ever tell you you have beautiful eyes?” Cobb said, reading part of a scene for the auditions.

“Yeah, yeah,” said Meisha Johnson, a University student.

“I’m serious,” Cobb said. “A man could drown in eyes like that.”

Students read a scene segment with a member of the opposite sex – usually Cobb or Saitta – and waited, hoping to be called back hours later for a second audition.

“I was at work and I ran over to my boss and started jumping up and down,” said Nicole Theisen, a communication studies junior who made the cut.

Students who returned went through a process similar to the first audition, but read a full scene. Their auditions were also taped for later review.

The University is the fourth stop on the soap opera’s five-stop national college tour.

“This was one of the most well-prepared and most evenly mixed (groups),” CBS publicist Lori Dellicolli said. “There was a lot of potential.”

Despite the talent, some students, such as David Holmes, had no previous acting experience and do not watch soap operas.

“I’ve always wanted to be known,” said Holmes, a biology senior. “There’s nothing to lose.”

Of the 118 students who auditioned, 22 were chosen to return for the more intensive read-through.

CBS’ “The Early Show” will announce the male and female finalist from each university live on Friday, May 14.

The following week, the 10 students will audition live on the show with an actor or actress from “The Young and the Restless,” Dellicolli said.

Viewers will vote online for the two overall winners.

Saitta said picking the University finalists will be difficult because drama and passion were abundant at the audition.

“When it comes to soap opera acting, it’s the drama I love,” said Johnson, a broadcast journalism junior chosen for a second audition.

Saitta was quick to offer words of encouragement to auditioning students.

It is much easier to continuously read the same scene when the actor or actress can assume the role he or she is playing, she said.