As a theater pro, you probably already know that casting for a production is simultaneously one of the most fun and stressful bits of your show’s journey. But you can increase the joy and decrease the panic by enacting a few smart casting strategies during this phase. On The Stage offers a few tips. 

8 Casting Strategies to Enact

Come prepared.

During auditions and casting, you need to be on the ball. This isn’t the time to play it by ear, go with the flow, or see what happens

After all, smooth audition and casting processes have one thing in common: everyone is prepared. The best way to be prepared? Give yourself and those around you the tools they need to succeed. The more specific requirements you give, the more likely you’ll find what you’re looking for… and the more likely you’ll have confident, moving auditions.

Ideas to stay organized include:

  • Utilizing an audition sign-in sheet that requires contact information for all auditionees 
  • Using a casting sheet – this will log detailed personal information on each actor – from necessary attributes to vocal range and danceability 
  • Sticking to the schedule  – make sure to plan ahead for breaks, meals, and snacks
  • Prep headshots/resumes – if you’re requiring all actors to bring physical headshots and resumes, make sure they’re organized well and stored in a safe place. A convenient (and green) alternative is having all actors send high-resolution, digitized versions to a specific casting email address

Keep it fair. 

Auditions and casting are not the time to play favorites. Even if you think you know who you’ll be casting in a role, it’s not ethical nor fair to the rest of the actors to give someone preferential treatment.

Make sure your auditions are set up so each actor receives the same amount of face time with you. And leave your bias at the door – people may (scratch that, will) surprise you! 

Record everything. 

Even if you think you have the memory of an elephant, you’ll forget things. That’s why having the entire audition process recorded is crucial. Upon playback, you may notice things in an audition that you didn’t during the moment.

Take notes.

Along the same lines, you won’t remember the way an audition made you feel if you’re seeing 100 auditions or more in a day. Make sure each person who auditions with you has their own set of notes – with both stand-out moments and critiques you can look back on to jog your memory. Combine this with the recorded video elements, and you’ll have everything you need to make an informed decision about your cast. 

Don’t give anything away. 

In short, you need to keep things professional before, during, and after auditions. Keeping feelings out of the audition room and staying professional until the last actor leaves the building means you aren’t making anyone feel embarrassed, or giving anyone false hope with a standing ovation or gasps from your seats. 

A few ways to stay professional include: 

  • Practicing the way you’ll interact with those who are auditioning
  • Keeping your expressions neutral during auditions – if you plan to clap after a performer is finished, ensure your reaction is the same across the board
  • Giving clear and concise direction and feedback if you want an actor to take a scene or song again

Make sure callbacks have paired scenes. 

The nightmare scenario: Two actors are brilliant on their own but fall flat when it comes to interacting with each other. If your musical or play requires two or more actors to have multiple scenes with one another, you absolutely need to have paired scenes during callbacks. Much of the magic of theatre is in the chemistry between the actors – make sure you aren’t forgetting that and being blinded by an actor’s vocal range or depth of emotion during a monologue. 

Have a backup. 

No, no one likes to be called a backup or a spare. But understudies are incredibly important members of a cast and can often save a show from canceling just by being there and being prepared. All that to say don’t put all your eggs in one basket when it comes to a lead or critical part of your production. Make sure you’re keeping options open and preparing other actors to step up if need be. 

Watch out for egos. 

Although we may be taught so, talent isn’t everything. During the audition process, one important casting strategy is to make sure to study the actors you’re considering for leads off the stage as well as on. Are they respectful of others’ time and space? Are they on time? Do they get along well with the other actors? Are they willing to take constructive criticism? If you answered no to any of these, you may have an issue on your hands. Remember that hard work and passion often weigh out talent when it comes to theatre. 

For more helpful resources and expert advice on casting strategies, be sure to download our latest guide, The Art of Auditions: How to Successfully Cast Your Next Show, developed by New York-based performer, playwright, and educator, Lisa Clair.

Enter On The Stage

When it comes down to it, casting is one of the most important parts of any showcase. But you won’t be able to focus on what matters if you’re also worried about ticketing options, marketing strategies, fundraising elements, streaming technology, and so much more. That’s why partnering with On The Stage is so beneficial – we’ll take care of the logistics, and you can focus on what matters: creating great art. 

If you’re ready to elevate your experience for everyone involved, book a personalized demo today.

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