Mrs. Brittany’s Corner – Auditions

Prepping for “After Auditions”

As audition season is starting to gear up at PA Theatrical Arts and The Vault Theater Company – I thought it was important to go over how to prep yourself for the “after auditions” part. I hope you enjoy my first blog post in “Mrs. Brittany’s Corner”! I am looking forward to writing posts for parents, students and families!

-Mrs. Brittany


I’ve definitely been there. In my program, I was lucky enough to have our Director choose my favorite show of all time. In that show there was a part that I was DYING to play. It was my dream role. Well, the cast list went up, and I didn’t get that part. Even though I had gotten another role, I was quite upset.  I was crushed. I was in disbelief. I didn’t understand why this had happened when I knew I was so perfect for the role.

But now that I am a Director, I know why. And, in fact, there is a very good reason. Casting a show is like fitting together a giant puzzle. All the pieces, with all their different facets, have to line up to make one beautiful work of art which we present to our audiences.

As actors, I think we are often limited by our own perceptions of ourselves. We think we know what roles are right for us, and we get really attached to them. We tend to call these our “dream roles.” And when a show comes around that has that “dream role,” we, of course, audition. We think the director would be crazy not to cast us in that role because we are just so perfect for it. But, when we get ourselves thinking like that, we are limiting ourselves to other possibilities. Maybe this Director thinks that we would be perfect in a different role, based on their vision and their perception of us actors and on their vision and perception of the show as a whole.

You might argue that they are judging you unfairly, that they are the limited ones. But, I challenge you to think about this differently. What if the Director sees something in you that you don’t? Couldn’t it be fun to see what different people think you are capable of?! Maybe you never thought you could play a love interest, and that’s what they see you as being. And isn’t that fascinating and exciting? Let yourself be stretched in ways you didn’t think of.

But then there are times when the Director thinks you actually would be perfect to play your dream role; however, there may be two other people that can play it equally as well. And, what if those two others would not be as good in a different role as you would. Remember that puzzle metaphor? Sometimes our puzzle piece just doesn’t fit right for our dream roles in this particular puzzle. In another show, it could fit beautifully where you want it, but in this one, maybe it fits better somewhere else.

I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, “there are no small parts, only small actors.” It really is true. Playwrights don’t write characters into plays or musicals if they don’t need them there to tell their story. Every character is important. Every character works together to tell the story the playwright set out to tell. Where would Dorothy be without the Wizard? A small part, but critical to the entire story!

So instead of being sad or resentful that you didn’t get the role you so badly wanted or thought you would get, embrace the role you did get! Throw yourself into it, have fun, and discover something new about yourself! After all, you get to do a show! You get to help tell a story. You get to perform in live theatre. Without you, the story we tell, or the puzzle the audience sees, just wouldn’t be the same.

When we cast the shows we are looking at the following:

  • Numbers. Do we have the right number of actors to fill each show?
  • Skills. Who can play these parts? Who has the range to sing each role? Who has the emotional depth – or the comedic timing? Who has the physical qualities that are required? Who is right, in a variety of ways, for which part?
  • 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, when they are cast in a show together.
  • 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?
  • 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. We must do what’s best for each individual actor, as well as what is best for the play as a whole. An actor may wish for a bigger role but if the requirements of that role are going to present challenges that the actor, at this point in her process, 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. It is our job in casting to always stretch our kids 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. Do these actors fit together—will they all work well together and will they sound or look right together.
  • We do NOT look at who has been in the program the longest or “paid their dues” – that has no part in casting.