We’ve been busy auditioning and will have call-backs for Pirates of Penzance this week. The first thing we did when we started meeting in September was to watch the Joe Papp version with Linda Ronstadt, Kevin Klein and Rex Smith. Then we worked on some improv games so everyone could get to know each other. In a class of 46 that’s a real feat but because we’re in a co-op that meets each week most of the students are already acquainted with each other.
Auditions have included readings, movement rehearsals, learning some of the songs, improv and solos. All those who wanted to audition for a lead were able to prepare and perform a one-minute piece last week and we saw so many wonderful possibilities. Those that decided to audition for leads were also asked to answer some questions concerning characterization. Everything becomes an audition because you want to know how an actor thinks and if they are willing to put in the work it takes to make a show live up to it’s potential.
How does a director cast? There are so many factors! It’s about what’s best for the play as a whole, not just individual actors who can pull off a song or two. Who comes out to audition and how they might fit into the director’s vision of the show becomes a puzzle – the director has to fit all the pieces together just right. Couples (like the ingénues) may be cast not only according to how they sound, but how they look together (could this be a real-life attraction). And in musicals, it’s also about who can hit the notes, who can move to the rhythm (with grace or without depending on the number), who can act the words and if they can play OFF each other, not just spout words and notes. If you work with students this age enough and give them the confidence that they CAN do it, they will rival the pros. If you get an actor that sings, dances AND acts you are triple-blessed (especially when you’re working with high school students). And this director feels triple-blessed because we have so much talent this year it’s difficult to make hard choices. But something always presents itself that just makes sense for the show. These are just a few of the considerations that go into casting a show.