Jelle de Jong, currently playing as Fred van Houten in Soldaat van Oranje , had to audition a total of eight times before he was given a role in the success musical.

32-year-old De Jong says that in the early days of the musical, which is celebrating its nine-year anniversary this year, he already auditioned for the lead role of Erik Hazelhoff Roelfzema.

"I was much too young, too busy and brash; it didn't fit. Still, the creative team, including Theu Boermans, the director, thought I could be a Erik," De Jong tells in conversation with PS Het Parool .

Several auditions followed, with the actor always being rejected because he was not strong enough vocally. "I was getting more and more nervous, but it was my honor not to go to the auditions. The last time they called was around Christmas 2014, a few weeks after my father's death. Again I didn't get the role."

De Jong indicated that he no longer wanted to go on an audition, but took the initiative in 2018 to contact the Soldier of Orange team himself, asking whether he could audition for another role. The actor noticed that he got more confidence from De stormruiter , a show in which he worked with horses.

"It went terribly bad. You didn't see a note, you really saw people looking away, so embarrassing. But everyone had seen me in the horse show, so I got the part anyway - provided I would take singing lessons."

De Jong notices that he is now "singing better every day". "I really enjoy it."

305

Backstage at Soldaat van Oranje: 'baldheads' and insights