By Laura Sanderson
More than 500 people showed up Monday to audition for “The R.M.”, an upcoming film that parodies post-mission adjustment.
Halestorm Entertainment, the film”s production company, had expected 100 people to attend the open call. Popularity of the company”s last film, “The Singles Ward,” drew the additional crowd, said Jed Ivie, 23, a public relations representative.
Aspiring stars waited for up to five hours to audition for 60 available roles.
“It”s really a waste of time,” said Dave Boud, 27, a member of the comedy troupe, The Skinny Lincolns. “In my six years of auditioning, this is the worst audition I have seen.”
His frustration was common, but a spirit of enthusiasm seemed to prevail. Fans of “The Singles Ward” were willing to wait for a chance to be a Mormon celebrity, said Fox Ellis, 21, from Dallas.
“It is great to have people who are so comfortable with their faith that they can poke fun of themselves,” Ellis said. “That”s really not me, but I”d like to be a part of it.”
“The R.M.”, opening in January of 2003, is the story of a returned missionary (Jared) who comes home unprepared for what he finds: His family has moved, his girlfriend is gone, and his old friend is up to old tricks.
Familiarity with the subject matter made many hopefuls perfect candidates, said Ivie, a junior from Farmington, N.M., majoring in communications.
“My friend, Jared, came home from his mission and wanted to marry me, but I was dating another guy,” said Jennifer Turner, 21, a junior from Mount Olive, N.C., majoring in film. “Just like the movie-right down to the name.”
“R.M.” joins a growing list of LDS genre films that includes “God”s Army” and “Other Side of Heaven”. The difference, said Dave Hunter, the film”s producer, is that “R.M.” is a comedy and not a conversion tool.
“We are catering only to Mormons,” he said. “If you want to be entertained, see this film. If you want the doctrine of the church, call the missionaries.”
Hunter, 32, a BYU graduate, said that the popularity of “Singles Ward” took him by surprise.
“We just hoped that we could get it into one theater,” he said.
After 5 months of limited release in Utah, Idaho, and Arizona, “Singles Ward” has made over $775,000 at the box office. For a film that cost $500,000 and revolved around an LDS divorcee, that was no small feat, Ivie said.
Motivated by the success, Halestorm Entertainment hopes to bring “R.M.” and future project, “Church Ball”, to the big screen within the next year.
“These movies are like a big inside joke,” said Carolyn Lundberg, who played a bishop”s wife in “Singles Ward”. “They really are worth this wait.”
Hunter echoed that sentiment. Despite the long lines and agitated actors, he hoped that Monday”s audition would be a success.
“We are looking for a needle in the haystack,” he said.