Casting – Dog and Pony: Part 2

As I write this we are six weeks – almost to the day – before the first day of rehearsals for Dog and Pony at The Old Globe Theatre.  When we finally reach that milestone day and all assemble in the studio, the next phase of the show’s development really begins.  Excited doesn’t begin to cover it!  As the e-mails fly and the phone calls come at a healthy pace, this is the perfect opportunity to talk about the casting of the show.

A bit of an anti-spoiler first: I can’t tell you who is in the cast just yet.  We’ll be making an official announcement soon and if I let the cat out of the bag prematurely the “official announcement” folks will kill me!  I’ll be talking specifically about our wonderful actors in a future blog entry and as we go through the rehearsal process.  For now, I want to talk about the unique – and surreal – experience of casting the show and finding the actors to inhabit the characters Rick and I created.

And so it was that, not long ago, I found myself sitting behind a table in an audition room for several days of callbacks.  The door opened and the first actor of the day was brought into the room.  Introductions, small talk, discussions about what to do first – scenes, songs, which song, etc – all of it is part of the process.  A free audition hint for you actors out there – we people behind the table and in the room are getting a sense of you and getting to know you from the moment you walk in.  Soon enough though, the pianist begins to play and I get to hear one amazing actor after another sing songs that I wrote!  It’s a pretty cool moment for a writer – and, at least for me, it never gets old.  Each actor was given the same music and guidance, but no two do the same song the exact same way.   And that’s the thing – no two people ever will so you get to learn a LOT about a song you know inside and out.

So the auditions continue and I watch, listen, talk to the actors about what I’m looking for, take a few notes and always, always ask myself if this is the person who will be perfect for this part.  It’s rarely an easy answer.  At the level we’re talking about, it’s exceedingly rare that somebody “isn’t good enough” to play the role.  That’s not the issue.  The issue – or more correctly, the issues are all subjective.  It’s about the acting, the voice, the interpretation, the instinct for the role, the sensibility, and a million other things that somehow add up to…something.  The reason casting is so tricky is because it’s about all of those things but also about chemistry between actors who may never be in the same room before the first day of rehearsal!  It’s a cliché, but I want every actor who comes in the room to be amazing and somebody I would happily cast.  That would be a “first world musical theatre” problem!

God I hope I get it.

God I hope I get it.

In the end, casting the show is an exciting threshold for the show.  Before that time, Rick and I were “just writing” the show for a few years.  But after we have a cast, it’s a whole new world.  The rewriting will continue but now it’s three-dimensional.  We still write the story we want to tell but we now we have living, breathing partners in the roles who can give us insights we would never have with only words on the page and notes on the staff.  It’s exciting and challenging and wonderful and….a lot of other things all at the same time.

So now we’re almost ready to go!  I’m very ready to get in the rehearsal studio with a group of wonderful actors and continue the work – because, believe me, writing a musical is work!  And the writing and rewriting Rick and I have already done and all we’ll continue to do with the actors and the rest of the team is before one audience member has seen the show.  Believe me, when you add that interactive element, it’s a whole new ballgame!  But, that’s for another blog a few months from now!  For now, it’s time to start counting down the next six weeks until the “first day of school.”  Get ready, because Dog and Pony is coming your way very soon!

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