Director’s Diary: On Casting

Director's Diary: On Casting

Dear Actors,
You know that horrible feeling in the pit of your stomach when you’re waiting for your casting to arrive?  The anticipation is gnawing at you… you just can’t wait to find out what part you’ll be playing in the show you just auditioned for!  You’re full of nerves as you scan the list, looking for your name.  You finally find your name and beside it holds your fate.  You may be thrilled… or you may be disappointed.

Well, I’m here to let you in on a little secret…

Directors go through that same horrible feeling… as soon as they hit that “send” button on the email.

Casting is a difficult process.  Directors are hoping and praying that the people auditioning for the show are going to be amazing.  Seriously!  TRUTH #1: Directors want actors to succeed.  We want you to get up there and blow us away with your talent and skill.  We want you to make us fall in love with you.  We want you to show us all the hours of work you’ve put into your monologue and song.

At OKTC, directors are assigned a cast of young actors, who will play the roles in the show.  These actors are lucky — they already know they’ll be playing SOMETHING in the show… but what they will be playing is largely determined by their audition.

For Peter Pan Jr., I have a cast of 30 young actors.  For at least half of them, this is their first full production at OKTC.  The rest of the cast have been in shows before, but many of them have never had leading roles.  And Peter Pan Jr. has a lot of big roles… Peter and Hook, of course, but there is also Wendy, John, and Michael Darling, Mr. Smee, and Tinker Bell, just to name a few.  There are over 40 different speaking roles in this production — every single actor has at least one spoken line.

While casting the show, I was quite nervous.  There are many things to consider when casting people into their roles…

  • Is there an actor in this cast who can perform each role?
  • Can they handle the vocal range?
  • Have they had a lead before?
  • Will they like the role they’re cast in?
  • Have they played a character like this before?  (I was hesitant about casting a certain young actor in the role of Nana, the Darling family’s dog, as I knew she had just finished playing an animal in Dr. Dolittle Jr.)
  • Will they be upset if they have too few lines… or too many?  (I’ve heard complaints about both!)
  • Will the girls be OK with playing boy roles?  (This is pretty much inevitable… if you are a young female performer, at some point, you will play a boy onstage.)
  • Are they too big (or small) to play this part?  Are they old (or young) enough?
  • Will they be loud enough onstage?
  • Will they be annoying in rehearsal?  (This does come into consideration when casting!)
  • Will they have a good experience while playing this role?
  • Will they learn anything, or will they just be bored?

We’ve been in rehearsals now for a couple of weeks.  Now that we’ve gotten into rehearsals, my fears have quickly dissipated.  My actors have been working their butts off in rehearsal and at home — it’s very evident that they are taking their roles seriously and are studying and practicing at home, which is amazing.  Every single actor is really rising to the occasion.

Casting is always a risk — but in this case it’s turned out to be a very successful risk.

Director's Diary: On Casting

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