Casting is a careful and thoughtful process. The goal at CCPAC is to place every participant into roles he/she is ready for, create a nurturing and safe environment for young performers to grow as artists, serve the integrity of each production and tell each story according the vision of the authors, composers and CCPAC’s creative team.
We hope this helps to give you some context for the email you and your child will receive from us regarding casting, as well as some guidance on how to support your child as we head into rehearsals.
When we cast the shows we are looking at the following:
Skills. Who can play these parts? Who has the vocal range to sing each role? Who has the emotional depth – or the comedic timing? Who has the dance training required for a specific part? Who is right, in a variety of ways, for particular roles?
Age. Different roles or shows may require different ages. Some shows are not appropriate for younger kids, in which case they won’t be cast in them. Some shows are not appropriate for older kids, in which case they won’t be cast in them. Older does not mean a better actor. Some of our youngest students are working at the same artistic level as our oldest students. Actors of all ages learn from each other, and become friends.
Gender. Is there a gender requirement – does the role need to be played by a boy or a girl? Or can we mix it up and cast non-traditionally? We have mixed gender roles in the past and will continue to do so when appropriate.
Who needs to be challenged in a specific way and what challenge is each actor ready for in this moment? Some actors may play two leads in a row. Some actors may often be in the ensemble. Casting is much like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. The creative team knows what the final picture needs to look like. Each actor is a puzzle piece and has to be placed in just the right spot. EVERY ROLE IS IMPORTANT!
An actor may wish for a bigger role. The creative team respects that and wants to make every child happy. However, if the requirements of a particular role are going to present challenges that the actor is not ready to tackle – on a stage, in front of an audience – we will find a role that will challenge, but not defeat that actor.
Example: would you want your child to pitch the final playoff game if the only position he has ever played was catcher?
It is our job in casting to always stretch the students as far as we can - to challenge them as much as we can - without ever crossing the line and casting them in a role in which they will not be successful.
The ensemble. At CCPAC we believe that the ensemble is an essential part of the fabric of every production. Being in the ensemble is just as important as being a principal or featured role.
Type of show. Has an actor been primarily only in one type of show – a musical, a large cast, a comedy – and do they need to have the experience of another type? We often give opportunities for new challenges and for performers to gain experience in new areas. Embrace the vision of the creative team and trust that the outcome will be in the best interest of everyone.
When we cast a show, we do NOT pay heed to the following:
“My child has paid her dues…” If a child is participating in the program, we assume that she is doing her best, working to hone her creative skills so that she will grow as an artist and best serve the play in which she is appearing. They have all paid their dues.
“My best friend is in a different show” or “I don’t have any friends in that show!” Make them. This is the safest place to make new friends and to develop lasting relationships. Be open to meeting new people and having new experiences.
“My friend got a good part and I didn’t. That’s not fair.” Actors get cast in the roles that will challenge them and in the roles we feel they can accomplish well and to best serve the production. Good actors/dancers/singers who prepare excellent auditions may get cast in the ensemble every single season. Smart actors/dancers/singers know what roles they are right for based on vocal range, dance ability and acting skills Ensemble roles are as much fun and as challenging as “lead” roles…and can steal the show when played well!
What to tell your children when they are upset because they didn’t get cast in the role they wanted:
Talk about what is good about how they were cast…a new challenge, a great director, old and new friends in the cast. Find the “known” positive aspects of the casting and focus on those—the “unknown” positives will reveal themselves throughout the process.
Remind them that just because they may not have gotten the role they wanted does not mean they weren’t great or right for the role. There are many ways to cast every part…keep in mind that we are casting many shows that need to match the artistic vision of the authors and composers as well as the directors here at CCPAC. Holding onto that artistic integrity is necessary and essential to great story telling.
Emphasize that we look out for all the actors, no matter what their role may be. Just because they don’t have lines does not mean they won’t have plenty to do or that they won’t have a great time during the process. We work to feature everyone in the result, but it is the process that is most important. Actors cannot possibly know based on casting what the process is going to be like – they have to experience it to know how much fun it will be! And the truth is that the amount of fun an actor has in a show has absolutely nothing to do with the size of his part.
Speak with them about how they felt their auditions went. Talk about possibly preparing better or taking more creative risks the next time. Make sure they also think about what they did well at their audition – about what went well! Remind them that auditioning is a skill, and actors get better at it each time they do it!
Our mission at CCPAC reaches beyond just putting up shows or creating good actors. And of course we hope that if a career in the performing arts is what a child is dreaming of that they “make it,” we also want to develop skills that will be used in any career. We hope that the actors come away having a greater sense of themselves, buoyed by a healthy self-esteem. We hope they feel comfortable expressing themselves, and trust that their ideas are important and worthy of being heard. We hope they feel strong and brave enough to take risks on stage as well as in the world. We hope they can work well in an ensemble with humility, while retaining their sense of individualism. We hope they can learn from others, regardless of age, and respect them as creative beings. And when they hear the applause after a performance at CCPAC, after personal successes at school or within the community and along their life journeys, we hope they can take a moment to revel in their success, and then smile and thank their audience for supporting their efforts.
We hope this helps smooth out any bumps that could arise during the casting process. We want everyone to have a great time here at CCPAC and know that there is a method to this casting madness. And the best of intentions is behind every decision.
The CCPAC Creative Team