If staging a full-scale musical in approximately 19 days, with costumes, sets, lights, a live pit band, and fifteen teenagers, sounds utterly deranged, it is. It’s stressful, exhausting, and demanding of constant love and attention. But. With all my heart and soul, I LOVE this job. I’m surrounded by an extremely talented, capable, and wonderful crew of creatives. And the kids themselves are what keep me coming back year after year. They are incredible.
So, auditions! The entire theatre department auditions on one day, with around 100 campers auditioning for roles in the eight day play -Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors (perhaps an even more epic undertaking than the musical), Rumors (a farce), Trapdoor Chekhov (three one-act Chekhov pieces), and the musical. For the musical we usually have the campers read short scenes, learn a dance routine, and sing any song of their choosing, acapella. I check their range, and ability to match pitch.
All the directors ensure auditions are welcoming and fun. This year, being Avenue Q, we also had campers work with some muppet-style puppets. It was astonishing to see the change in confidence with and without puppets in hand! Many campers had never held a puppet before, and were thrilled at the opportunity to speak and sing with one.
At the end of the audition day, all the directors, assistant directors, and musical team (we’re a small army this year - director, assistant director, choreographer, puppet master, and music director), compile their notes and assemble with the camp’s production manager to cast the shows. Every camper who auditions for all four shows, which is the vast majority of auditionees, is guaranteed a role. We take into account camper preferences (determined by a form that is filled in at the beginning of the day), how much time they want to give to theatre (a little, some, a lot), if they are auditioning for clown or dance the next day (mainly for rehearsal purposes), and how to balance the shows. It’s an epic evening of intense discussion, aided by a computer program that allows us to see who auditioned, and who has been cast. Cast lists are posted on the theatre call board, and in the morning, campers wake up and rush to see who is playing what role.
Our musical cast this year, much like other years, consists of a vast range of campers. Some have never sung/danced before, and are shocked to find themselves cast in a musical. Others have performed in the show at their schools, and for others, this is their fifth or sixth musical, (and counting)!
Check back soon for the next post on the rehearsal process!
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rehearsal & show diaries.
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