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My First Audition: Christian Patterson – ‘I used to suffer from ‘Elvis legs’’


After my college showcase in 1995, I met a lot of agents and decided to join Elspeth Cochrane. Mack and Mabel was the first job she put me up for. When she sent off my CV and photo, I was called in to audition for the role of Fatty Arbuckle. I can safely say I have never been so nervous before or since.

The casting was in a room at Her Majesty’s Theatre and I swear I can still describe the walk to the audition. How did I cope? I used to suffer with what I used to call ‘Elvis legs’ – my legs would shake uncontrollably while I sang. When I didn’t get the part, I thought my agent was going to dump me (advice to younger actors: that generally doesn’t happen). Although I didn’t get that part, I did meet Jerry Herman at the audition, as well as director Paul Kerryson.

When Paul contacted me later in the year to offer me ensemble and first cover for Nicely Nicely in Guys and Dolls, which he was also directing, I was pretty happy.

If I could go back in time now, I would first remind myself to breathe. Air is important. Secondly, auditioning is pot luck. You can be the best prepared or the most talented but they might just be looking for someone else.

After that first let-down, my agent told me: “Don’t take it personally.” It takes a long time to master this but is vital for survival in our business. In the meantime, just try to keep things in perspective. It’s an audition panel, not a firing squad. They want you to be ‘the one’ as much as you do. They are on your side. If it doesn’t go your way, maybe the next one will.

CV: Christian Patterson

Age: 45
Training: Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama (1992-95)
Theatre includes: My Country (National Theatre), The Secret Garden (RSC, West End), Ying Tong – A Walk with the Goons, Macbeth (West End), Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Guys and Dolls (national tours), Insignificance, All My Sons, Under Milk Wood, Glengarry Glen Ross, Twelfth Night (Theatre Clwyd), Blasted, Blackbird (Other Room)
TV and film includes: Mr Selfridge, Krod Mandoon and the Flaming Sword of Fire, Doctors, Holby City
Agent: Roger Charteris at the Artists Partnership

Christian Patterson was talking to John Byrne