The Cast List: What to Say Before, During, and After Auditions

posted on Dec 14 2021

by Courtney Cook Naftz, Director of Programming

The cast list is up and…uh oh. The sad reality is that for every happy child, there are probably at least five or six unhappy children when any cast list goes out. This is simply logistics: no version of The Little Mermaid is going to cast eight Ariels.

Most parents of little rising actors have had to deal with a devastated child on the day the cast list is posted. How to respond? What to say to make their child feel better or help them put the casting decisions into perspective?

Here’s the GOOD NEWS! Every mainstages production is designed to give every child the ability to shine. Whether they have a solo comedic scene, or vocal solo, or special bit of choreography that allows them to take center stage…EVERY ROLE IS AWESOME! The majority of the cast are featured in every musical number, allowing all participants ample stage time.

From our 10+ years of running production programs, we have a few tips for helping to ensure a positive theater experience, no matter what role they're cast in.

Before The Audition:

Oh My Goodness, it's a Show...

Encourage general excitement about the opportunity to perform in the show itself, rather than focusing on a particular desired role.

Have Fun...

Encourage them to do the best that they can and have fun. That’s what’s most important, anyway!

After Auditions:

Fantastic Job..

Commend them on putting themselves out there and doing their best. Highlight the personal achievement of just going out and giving it their best shot.

It's Going to be Awesome...

Remind them that, no matter what the casting outcome, they're still going to have an amazing, fun experience doing the show.

After Casting:

Celebrate the Positives...

Emphasize the amazing opportunities that their role provides. What are the biggest perks? Do they get to work closely with other people? Is there a lot of cool dancing involved? Is the costume amazing?

Be the Best Ever...

Encourage them to push themselves to be the best they can be in whatever role they are cast.

Recognize the Bigger Picture...

Remind them that casting is like a big puzzle: all the pieces have to fit right. If they didn't get the part they wanted, it doesn't mean that they're not talented or that they wouldn't have been fabulous in the role they desired. It just means that they weren't the right fit for the part in that particular rendition of the show.

Wait Until Day Three...

Ask them to wait until at least the third rehearsal to make up their minds about their role. Chances are there is a lot more to the part than they realize, and if they just get into rehearsals, soon they will be having so much fun, they don't even remember if they were initially dissatisfied with their part.

The audition process is vital to a child’s theater experience as it challenges them to take risks and elevates their self-confidence. Ultimately it encourages them to adopt a team mentality. While none of the suggestions above are guaranteed to instantly erase tears and completely transform a child's mood, they will promote a healthy perspective and positive attitude toward the casting process and assist them in ultimately embracing their role in the show.

Courtney Cook Naftz

posted on Dec 14 2021

by Courtney Cook Naftz

Courtney brings her passion and creativity to the role of Director of Programming, where she leads the programming division overseeing and creating innovative year-round school and nationwide summer camp programs. For the past 15 years, Courtney has worked as a professional actress performing and touring with Regional Theater companies, has worked Off-Broadway and in Television and Films. She has developed virtual and in-person Theater programming for children, worked as a Teaching Artist within the NYC School District and is an Acting Coach for both youth and adult actors. She is excited to bring her experience and passion for children's theater education to mainstages. Her main goal is to create inclusive and engaging programming that creates a safe space for children of all ages and backgrounds to expand their creativity and imaginations.