You stand, gazing nervously at the audition signup sheet for the winter musical, Guys and Dolls (Feb. 23-25). You sign your name in the 4:42 time slot – you grab an audition packet – you walk away. And then you dash back and erase your name and toss the packet into the nearby trashcan. Nerves just got the better of you.
I am often asked about the audition process and how cast members are selected to play the various roles. Although it is often a challenging task, it is truly one of my favorite parts of the show process. It all starts with the audition signup…
If the show is a non-musical, students are provided with a monologue or two that they must then prepare. They sign up for a four-minute time slot, fill out the required paperwork and audition for the director and perhaps an assistant. It can be intimidating, but the better prepared the student is, the more comfortable they will feel.
If the show is a musical, students must also prepare a song to sing, in addition to the monologue. Again, the song is provided to them, and often an Internet link to the song is given to them as well, so that they can practice at home.
After the initial auditions, callbacks are held. These callbacks provide an opportunity to hear people read together and get another chance at some of the dialogue. This is a very necessary part of the process, as it allows me to see people together on stage and to see how “directable” they can be. Usually just those people who are being considered for the leading roles are asked to come to this part of the audition.
The last step is to place actors and actresses in their newly assigned roles. I go back and forth with different combinations, comparing the various talents each student will bring to their role. So many factors are weighed as the decision is made. Is this person reliable? Do they take direction well? Did they have good chemistry with the other actors in their scenes? Are they believable in this role? Sometimes the decisions are fairly easy to make; sometimes, I make a cast list at night and change it after sleeping on my decisions.
The last step is to post the cast list on the bulletin board – and run and hide!
You come back and look at the cast list, seeing that many of your friends have been cast in the show. You hear all the stories about how much fun this show will be. With a sad shrug, you walk away, vowing that next time, you will audition!