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The Realities of Casting

It’s that time again! Casting time! The time when everyone works their butt off to prepare for the audition, come in, give a great audition and then wait for the cast list to be posted. It’s a stark realization that with every cast list I post, I have 3 happy students and 20 other students facing disappointment.

Act Too Players is listed as a training school which primarily means that we don’t audition kids to get into a program or a show. If they have the desire to learn, then we have the desire to teach them. Our auditions are for placement within the show which is something I remind them during auditions! They already get to have the fun of learning a new show! It is also important for you as the parent to understand and trust our process. Because we are a teaching facility, it is vitally important that we train our students in several different ways. We try very hard to cast your child in the best place, for the best experience. We do our best to mix up the roles, thereby mixing up their experience and learning. A lead role in a show is no more important than an ensemble role. It is important for you to realize this, so that you can help your child realize and understand this as well. We look for the opportunity to push, challenge, and strengthen your child’s ability. This may come in many different forms. We ask that you do not become combative toward the casting process. Looking to other students for inspiration is good; however, making negative comparisons distracts children from focusing on becoming stronger performers.

Casting is hard. Really hard. If you put seven people in the room watching the same auditions you will end up with seven different cast lists. Casting by its very nature can be very subjective and is the reason I often have other auditors in the room with me. (I also record every audition so that I can revisit them over the next couple of days.) There are a multitude of reasons that casting is so hard. I have found that casting is difficult because we usually have two or three people that could be cast in all the lead roles. I could have two kids up for the lead and when I decide on one, the other often gets placed in an ensemble role…not because she didn’t do well and not because she’s not talented. It’s the nature of the beast. I am very clear about one thing. A performer must be able to play multiple types of characters if they want to get work in the real world. Explaining this to young performers and at times parents is the challenging part. For some reason, people get it in their head that the lead must be the best performer. Truthfully, it is the strength of the ensemble that makes the leads look so good! As cliché as it sounds, every part really does matter. The lead plays one character, the ensemble member, swing, or understudy must be able to play several. (The quarter back couldn’t do his job if the fullback wasn’t there!)

Do I like casting? Not really. Do I like watching auditions? Definitely. The thing I enjoy the most about watching the auditions is seeing the progress in students from semester to semester. I feel proudest when I see a student who wouldn’t even open her mouth to say her name in an audition get up in front of the class and sing out for the first time. She may be pitchy. She may be meek. She may not smile. But She Sang!

What does Act Too look at when casting?

· Where will this student be the most successful?

· How has this student improved since the last semester?

· What did this student play in the last show, and how can they be challenged?

· Was this student just a lead? How did they handle that leadership role?

· If the student was just a lead… how do we challenge them in the ensemble?

· Is the student about to age out of their age group?

· Is this student really ready for a lead role and what it means to take that on?

· What have their leadership skills been like during the current class and past classes?

· What steps, if any, has the student taken to improve and help encourage others?

I hope this blog gives you a different insight into the casting process. I always want to make every student happy and I understand the hurt they feel when the casting isn't what they had hoped. Casting is a necessary evil in the theatre world. If you or your child is struggling with the casting decision you are welcome to email me to schedule an appointment to review your child's audition (with your child). I want you or your children to feel confidant and empowered.

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