Casting is a tricky thing. When Ms. Figg-Franzoi and Ms. Houge cast any show we have a zillion things we have to take into consideration. When we cast at Homestead, we’re looking for positive energy, good auditions, the “Be Mighty” attitude, a willingness to try, directability, actors who are growing in their work from season to season, focus and a collaborative spirit. (Woosh, that’s a lot to look for). We try to challenge each actor. We work to give each actor and each cast a good experience, in the rehearsal process and in performance. And, we cast to serve the show. As a high school theatre company, we are bound to serve the performance so that it succeeds as good theatre, as well as providing each actor with a successful experience within the show. As a theatre company within a high school, we are also restricted by the realities of each student’s school, family and other activity commitments – your schedule plays a big part in how the play is ultimately cast. We also have to follow the rules of the school and co-curricular code of conduct, meaning students with failing grades cannot perform with us. You may not like it, we may not like it, but it is the reality of doing theatre with high school students.
Casting is like putting together a giant puzzle. The actors who audition are the puzzle pieces. Ms. Figg-Franzoi and Ms. Houge’s challenge is to move the puzzle pieces around until we fulfill the big picture and complete the puzzle to the best of our ability, satisfying all of the requirements for each show…and there are so many puzzle pieces to place! For every role, there are at least, AT LEAST, 3 wonderful choices, and in most cases, many more—all of which would be great versions of these shows. Of course, this is why we can go to the theatre and see different casts do the same show many times. So many details to consider. So much talent. So many options. Believe us, we move those puzzle pieces around fervently. There is much discussion and debate. A lot of matching and moving and thinking and rethinking – trying out various combinations of people for the different casts. It is a long process, filled with many possible endings. What happens when there is more than just one “right one” for a role?
What do we do when one actor may be “just right” for more than one role? What do we do when that is the case for many roles? We want everyone to be happy. Of course, this is not always the case. We realize that. We were actors as well. We have been cast in smaller roles than we would have liked. We have both felt crushed when casting announcements were made. But we have also gone through the process of learning that there is much joy to be found, even in the smallest of roles. Though a character may only have two lines, the playwright wrote those two lines for that character for a reason—not just because—but because those two lines were important for that character to say in order to further the idea of the play. It really isn’t how big your part is—it’s what you do with the part you have in order to best serve the play, and in order to continue growing as an artist. Here’s the thing – you might be absolutely right for a certain part, you may want it more than you’ve ever wanted anything, you may even be sure you are going to get it – your friends may tell you that you are definitely going to get it – and then the part might just go to someone else. And that’s how it goes in casting. As an actor, you must be able to handle those disappointments graciously and to learn to put your disappointment aside when it comes time to begin rehearsals.
So, to all of the actors – thank you for having the courage to audition for Fiddler on the Roof. Thank you for wanting to be a part of the HHS Music and Theatre department family. Thank you for all being so right for so many roles in these shows. And thank you for making such an amazing puzzle of this year’s musical. The overall picture is beautiful, intriguing, interesting, colorful, new, inspiring. We hope we are all excited to bring the picture to life! L’chaim! Now we challenge you to breathe and talk and walk and sing and dance for these characters in ways that have never been tried. We offer you these parts…now we wonder what you will do with them….
Ms. Figg-Franzoi and Ms. Houge