Auditions (Doo Wop blog #2)

I hope you’re all excited to be working on Doo Wop Wed Widing Hood this fall! It’s such a fun show with lots of great music and I can’t wait for everyone to read through the script and start working on it Saturday.

By now, I’m sure you’ve all seen the cast list. Please remember to reserve judgement until you get a script in your hands. Keep in mind that the number of lines is just a small part of what your role will end up being.

Casting this show took a little bit longer than it has the past couple of years – we had a lot of tough decisions to make. And now I will attempt to explain that process.

As I say every year, casting is like putting a puzzle together. Each actor, each role, is a different piece and if you cast it one way versus another, the pieces might not fit together so well to create the whole. As we cast we really are looking at the big picture at the same time that we’re looking carefully at each individual piece.

Think about your group of friends and your favorite television show or movie. I’m sure it wouldn’t be the first time that you’ve tried to “cast” your friend group in these roles. Let’s start very simply by looking at the popular TV show “Friends.” Would you consider yourself to be a Monica, Rachel, Ross, Joey, Phoebe or Chandler? You might have a favorite character, but which one would you be able to play most convincingly? And keep in mind, as you cast your friends in these roles, you can’t have 2 Rosses and no Joeys.

For me, I would love to be Rachel, but I know that I would be a much better Monica or Phoebe. Both of these roles would have their challenges for me, but I could play either. That being said, when push comes to shove, I’d probably make a better Monica – unless of course there isn’t another person in my friend group who could pull off Phoebe’s amazing and cool weirdness – then that part would be mine.

And that’s the trick. We might have 5 actors who could all play the same role – let’s call it role A. Each would bring something a little different to the table, but if we pick one actor over the other and he is also the only one who could convincingly play a different role, let’s call it role B (even if he’d be better for role A) that makes a huge difference.

As you cast, you can’t leave any holes. If you have someone who could play role A, even if that actor makes sense as role B, you have to really think twice before casting, whether that means that you use that actor to fill the casting hole (in a good way) or you decide to cast said actor as role A and leave the hole (role B) for someone to fill that might be less convincing. It really is a conundrum.

Okay, imagine this: Mickey Mouse is auditioning for our play with all of his friends. How do you cast?

Here’s one scenario:

Loud Frank – Mickey

Strong Justin – Donald

Wise Jason – Goofy

Little Red – Minnie

Medium Purple – Daisy

Big Green – Tinkerbell

Wolf - Pluto

Here’s another:

Loud Frank – Donald

Strong Justin – Pluto

Wise Jason – Mickey

Little Red – Tinkerbell

Medium Purple – Minnie

Big Green – Daisy

Wolf - Goofy

How do you know which scenario is best? Mickey Mouse is the obvious choice for Frank because he’s Mickey, but his voice is high pitched and won’t get as much volume as Donald Duck would. I think Mickey would actually be better playing the wise prince. Ditto for Minnie – do you give her the role of Little Red because she would do it or do you give it to Tinkerbell who’s worked really hard for it and has the right amount of teenager-ness to pull it off? And then again, there are many more combinations of actors and characters that you might have to try out to get just the right fit. One way will work just fine, but the whole picture – the final product – may not be as clear as it could be.

So now imagine yourself again. Who can you play? Is it the same as your dream role or is it your dream role’s best friend or foe? What do you bring to the table? What does the role require and who are the other actors in the mix? If you have 5 Phoebe’s in your friend group that’s great, but an episode of “Friends” with 5 different Phoebe’s and no other characters just won’t work.

And that is what the casting process is all about. I am curious though – how would you cast yourself in “Friends” (or another show/movie)? Let me know on Saturday!

See you on the flip side,