For our Spotlight on Acting Schools and Coaches, Back Stage looks at the plays scheduled for the 2005-06 New York season and what it takes to get cast in them. Ten commercial productions and 18 not-for-profit theatres have been surveyed to find out what they're looking for, with words of wisdom from casting directors and artistic directors discussing a total of more than 60 scheduled works, along with their general philosophy about audition technique and company styles and preferences.
Commercial Productions on Broadway
Broadway opening: March 31, 2005.
There are no auditions scheduled at this time for either a tour or replacements. Any future auditions will be held in 2006.
Actors auditioning for "Doubt" should "pay attention to detail," says casting director Nancy Piccione, who, along with David Caparelliotis, casts all plays for Manhattan Theatre Club. Ideally, the actor will have classical technique that can be used in a contemporary play. Piccione points out that there is an economy of language in "Doubt" that requires the high level of skill that comes with a classical background.
"I believe that an actor who can do Shakespeare can do many other kinds of acting, whereas the reverse is not always true," she says. "In 'Doubt,' every word has to be filled." She adds that any actor who appears in "Doubt" has to have a real feel for naturalistic acting.
While Piccione is an advocate of colorblind casting, "the characters in 'Doubt' define themselves," she says. "There is one African-American woman and every one else is white." This is spelled out specifically in the text.
Realistically, actors who are asked to audition for "Doubt" (and for most other Manhattan Theatre Club projects) are either submitted by agents or called in by an MTC casting director (or the play's director) who is already familiar with their work. At the audition, actors will read sides from the play.
Being prepared is the key to turning on Piccione; she wants to see actors who are well-versed in the material. Do not audition for "Doubt" unless you have either read the script or seen the play.
Piccione knows that actors are nervous at auditions. To help counteract the jitters, she suggests "staying focused, specific, and centered" on what you are doing.
She stresses that even if an actor has been turned down in the past, it is in no way a permanent rejection: "Not everyone is right for every role."
-- Simi Horwitz
The Odd Couple
Scheduled Broadway opening: Oct. 27, 2005.
Auditions for understudies will start after Labor Day. Send photos and résumés to Bernard Telsey Casting, 145 West 28th St., Suite 12F, New York, NY 10001.
Comic duo Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane will reunite in the Broadway revival of Neil Simon's "The Odd Couple," which begins previews Oct. 4 at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre. Broderick will play anal-retentive photographer Felix Ungar, while Lane plays the slovenly sports writer Oscar Madison. Brad Garrett ("Everybody Loves Raymond") also joins the cast as poker player Murray.
Casting for the revival is complete, with rehearsals beginning Sept. 6. Callbacks for understudies will be held by director Joe Mantello after Labor Day.
"The Odd Couple" takes place in New York City in the early 1960s. This production will not diverge from the original script and will be done as a period piece.
The cast is composed of eight actors -- six men, two women -- plus three understudies. Apart from Felix and Oscar, the other characters are the four poker players and the two Pigeon sisters.
The poker players are iconic New York personalities of different types and ages ranging from 30s to 50s. "The play and its characters need to feel authentically New York -- with the exception of the Pigeon sisters, who are English," adds casting director Bernard Telsey of Bernard Telsey Casting.
Telsey describes the Pigeon sisters as "two broads, late 20s to early 30s, who aren't necessarily supermodels."
Sending in your pictures and résumés for specific roles is highly recommended: "When you ask to be seen for a specific role, you don't get put in a general pile. We look at all individual submissions because they could be someone we remember, or just the type we're looking for. The more someone is in our face, the better."
-- Phoebe Kmeck
Scheduled Broadway opening: Nov. 18, 2005.
Understudy auditions for the character Cosmé McMoon were held Aug. 29. Future auditions will be held if replacements are needed.
Barry Moss, casting director for Stephen Temperley's "Souvenir," a two-person play with music, knows precisely what he wants in a Florence Foster Jenkins (to be played on Broadway by Tony Award winner Judy Kaye), the historical figure at the center of the work, and in a Cosmé McMoon (to be played by Donald Corren), her devoted accompanist.
"Both characters are of a certain age," Moss states, "and Florence has to seem upscale, with a great deal of warmth and vulnerability." He stresses that this last quality is key, since Jenkins (1868-1944) was an unlikely American hero: a soprano without any singing ability, a woman who strode through life merrily oblivious to her deficiencies. Moss notes that the actor who plays Jenkins "must be a great singer, because to sing off key you have to know how to sing on key." A comic flair and a "wide range of acting chops" are also helpful.
Cosmé "requires other key characteristics," Moss continues. "He's Florence's accompanist, so he has to play piano and read music. The play begins in a piano bar, so Cosmé needs that charming, casual, piano-bar style, and has to seem extremely fun and also terribly sensitive, since he cares so much about protecting Florence."
An audition for Florence, he says, would begin "with a song, preferably a classical piece. By this, I mean an aria from an opera -- even 'Ave Maria,' which Florence sings at the end of the show, or an art song or a classical piece, not pop or Broadway." A reading from the script would follow. For Cosmé, Moss notes, " 'Souvenir' is really his story -- his experience having met her, worked with her, and loving her, not in a sexual way but because of their great partnership and the regard in which he held her. He was her protector -- he was desperate to keep her from finding out that [the public] thought she was a joke."
Moss adds that an actor auditioning for Florence might hint at a note of the tragic: "She really didn't hear the pitch, you know, and Stephen Temperley has written one scene in which Cosmé keeps striking notes which she hears wrongly -- she says there must be something wrong with the piano. I mean, you don't doubt that she hears beautiful sounds in her head, but she couldn't reproduce them. When Cosmé talks about what sounds she did hear, that's when Florence sings 'Ave Maria' and, in that moment, you need two actors with real star quality."
He offers auditioning actors this advice: "You never want to take character descriptions too literally. They're meant to give a feel of who characters are, so it would be a mistake to concentrate on them so much that someone auditioning for Cosmé, say, would come in acting extremely effete and ultrasensitive. And if you're auditioning to be an understudy, don't imitate the performers. That's an imitation. It doesn't let your personality make you part of the character."
-- Leonard Jacobs
Barefoot in the Park
Scheduled Broadway opening: February 2006.
An Equity principal audition (EPA) will be scheduled soon, probably sometime in September.
This early Neil Simon comedy may have played every community playhouse, dinner theatre, and straw-hat venue in North America during its 40-plus-year history. However, this version marks the property's first-ever Broadway revival. The original production opened in October 1963 at the Biltmore Theatre, directed by Mike Nichols and starring Robert Redford and Elizabeth Ashley. Redford and Jane Fonda headlined in the 1967 film version.
Casting director Judy Henderson says that casting for the new rendition, to be directed by Scott Elliott, is largely finished at this time. Patrick Wilson and Amanda Peet will play newlyweds Paul and Corie Bratter, with Jill Clayburgh set as Mrs. Banks (Corie's mother) and Tony Roberts as wacko upstairs neighbor Victor Velasco.
The upcoming EPA will be held to find understudies for all the major roles and to cast the role of a deliveryman (the actor chosen for this role will also understudy the Velasco part). The casting team is specifically seeking an actor of color for this slot. Though Velasco has been portrayed in the past as a non-American character with a dialect, the producers are more concerned this time around that he have "the quality of a free spirit." In fact, a specific accent may not be required. The chosen performer must, however, have "a good sense of humor and a joie de vivre."
Those interested in auditioning may find it helpful to view the Redford-Fonda version. Henderson notes that the film provides an accurate depiction of the comedy's principal characters. Paul Bratter is a young professional and Corie is his nonworking wife. Mrs. Banks is "all-knowing and sharp." Henderson is not certain at this point whether colorblind casting will be utilized when selecting understudies for parts other than Velasco.
The staging will embrace the 1960s setting, Henderson says. The script will not be updated or contemporized. She notes that a preliminary reading suggests that this comedy will hold up well for 2006 audiences.
It's not yet been determined whether auditioning actors will be asked to read from sides or prepare monologues.
Rehearsals will begin about Dec. 26.
-- Mark Dundas Wood
Three Days of Rain
Scheduled Broadway opening: March 2006.
Equity principal auditions for the two male leads are scheduled for Aug. 31-Sept. 1. Auditions for understudies will take place after Labor Day. Stay tuned for the breakdown in Back Stage. Send photos and résumés to Bernard Telsey Casting, 145 West 28th St., Suite 12F, New York, NY 10001.
Julia Roberts will make her Broadway debut in the upcoming revival of Richard Greenberg's "Three Days of Rain." The drama premiered at Manhattan Theatre Club in 1997 and is now being revived for Broadway under Joe Mantello's direction. The opening is scheduled for March and the production will run through June unless extended. The theatre is yet to be determined.
Three actors make up the cast, each playing dual roles. Act I takes place in the 1990s as a brother and sister discuss the death of their parents with a friend and an incident that marked their lives 30 years earlier. Act II opens on the night of the incident, with the same three actors playing the brother and sister's parents and a friend tangled in a love triangle.
Bernard Telsey of Bernard Telsey Casting elaborates on the script: "It's such a beautiful play. It reveals that we are who we are based on our own opinions and understanding of our parents. It's a very healing play that sheds light on both sides of the story."
EPAs will be held Aug. 31 and Sept. 1 for the two male roles: "We're essentially looking for two brilliant actors -- not necessarily stars. All three roles are Caucasian, from the East Coast, educated, in their 30s."
Actors auditioning for "Three Days of Rain" may be asked to prepare a scene from the play or a monologue. Telsey urges actors to read the play before auditioning: "Being as prepared as you can be always makes for a better audition. If you're prone to nervousness, knowing the piece will work as an anchor for you."
He also offers insight on how to deal with rejection: "Don't look at it as if you were personally rejected. Look at it as finding a match. If a good actor isn't right for one role, we'll call them in for something else."
-- Phoebe Kmeck
Scheduled Broadway opening: March 2006.
David Eldridge's adaptation of the Danish film "Festen," released in the United States as "The Celebration," is scheduled to be presented at a Shubert house to be determined. Rehearsals begin in January. No further auditions are set at the present time.
"Festen" is based on the 1998 film written by Thomas Vinterberg and Mogens Rukov. The plot focuses on a family secret unveiled at a 60th birthday party. David Eldridge has adapted the material and Rufus Norris will direct.
The stage version premiered at London's Almeida Theatre last year before transferring to the West End. Although the show is a London transfer, producers Marla Rubin and Bill Kenwright do not plan to bring any of the original cast members to Broadway at this time, but will instead open it in March with an American cast.
Jim Carnahan held a casting call for principals for the U.S. version in June, with no further auditions currently planned. Actors were required to prepare a short (one- to two-minute) dramatic contemporary monologue.
The cast includes a brooding young man in his early 30s, a 60-year-old family patriarch and his wife, siblings and spouses in their 20s and 30s, a grandfather in his 70s, and middle-aged friends, employees, and business associates. There are also an African-American boyfriend and an eight-year-old girl.
According to casting associate Carrie Gardner, the casting team was looking for "actors who can sustain intensity and who can be a strong presence even in silence. These characters do a lot of covering up of the wounds of their past, so there is a lot happening just below the surface."
Gardner advises actors who may be up for roles in the play that "watching the movie could be helpful. There is a lot going on in this play that isn't on the page."
She also reminds actors that the director has already staged "Festen" before: "Rufus has directed this show in London and of course has ideas about what he's looking for. Basically, he responds to fantastic actors who are willing to take direction and risks. Another consideration is that we do have to create a believable family out of the actors we cast."
-- Elias Stimac
Commercial Productions Off-Broadway
Off-Broadway opening: April 18, 1987.
Auditions are held as needed. No auditions are currently scheduled. A tour of "Perfect Crime" is in the planning stages; auditions will be announced in Back Stage in November. Actors may send photos and résumés with a note to Catherine Russell, 1627 Broadway, New York, NY 10019.
Now in its 19th year of performances, "Perfect Crime" continues its long run. Catherine Russell serves as the murder mystery's star and general manager and oversees all casting. Three male actors between the ages of 40 and 55 make up the rest of the cast. Russell describes them as a "sexy 'Columbo' detective type, a psychiatric patient/psychotic killer, and a smart, normal American with a double identity as an Englishman." Casting is colorblind.
"The first thing I look for is a lot of stage experience," notes Russell. "Actors who are comfortable on a stage know how to handle things like cell phones, holding for laughs, and are able to perform an otherwise exhausting eight shows a week. It's in their blood."
Actors are asked to prepare a monologue or read sides from the play, depending on casting needs: "If you want to memorize sides, fine, but actors should always have it in their hand during their audition. Otherwise, the audition becomes all about memorizing lines rather than making choices. I like to see a monologue because it gives me a good sense of the actor's type."
Before an audition, Russell will suggest an actor see or read the play in order to know the best choices to make: "A thoughtful audition where the actor has put effort into understanding the material always makes for a better audition."
As an actor, she understands the challenges of auditioning within a business that is often saturated with rejection: "People forget that the casting director is not sitting there waiting for the actor to screw up. Walk in optimistically knowing that the person you're auditioning for wants you to be the one. Don't be afraid to be yourself or to ask questions. Know you did your best, and then let go of it."
Russell offers insight into how to put not landing a role in perspective: "Don't think that just because you didn't get the part means you sucked. There are a multitude of reasons why a person doesn't get the role -- it could be height, or they look too much like someone else. Auditioning is also about planting seeds, and I pass good actors on to other people."
-- Phoebe Kmeck
Off-Broadway opening: Oct. 21, 2004.
An open call was held in June for the Florida production. To be considered for future productions or as a replacement, send a photo and résumé to Attn: Jewtopia, Mungioli Theatricals, 207 West 25th St., 6th floor, New York, NY 10001.
Although being Jewish is not a requirement, anyone auditioning for the show must understand and enjoy over-the-top, bawdy, ethnically Jewish humor.
"This is a specific type of outrageous comedy. We need funny actors who are not afraid to go out on a limb and can deliver what we need," says casting director Arnold J. Mungioli. "It's a 'Saturday Night Live' kind of sensibility with great comic timing."
The production employs four male and three female actors, and "three and a half understudies" -- two males and a female who are under contract and another male actor who is hired only when needed. Two of the males and two of the females are in their 20s to 30s, while the others are in their 50s to 70s. Five of the roles are meant for seemingly-Jewish Caucasians, but a young gentile-looking male and a young Asian female are also needed.
According to Sam Wolfson, who co-wrote the show and originated the role of Adam Lipschitz, physicality is important but not necessarily vital. "You walk in the room and half the battle is out of your hands, but there have been times when people have surprised us," he says. "It's the kind of thing where either you click and you're funny, or you're just not. It's not something that can be taught or learned. When you audition, do what makes you funny and special."
There have been previous stagings in Los Angeles and Chicago, and a new one just opened in Florida. A national tour will begin in March 2006, productions are being developed for London, Sydney, and Israel, and a film version is in the works.
-- Matt Windman
Off-Broadway opening: March 13, 2005.
Most of the original cast has been replaced, and an Equity principal audition is not currently scheduled. The show has no official casting director. All principals were chosen by director David Cromer and playwright Austin Pendleton.
According to David Cromer, casting the show is a "two-headed monster" because he has to consider whether those auditioning actually resemble famous film stars Orson Welles, Laurence Olivier, and Vivien Leigh, and also whether the actors understand those eccentric personalities and can portray them truthfully.
"We've got to consider the characters' fame and notoriety, but it really comes down to who's the best actor," Cromer says. "We've bypassed a lot of people who possessed the characters' physical traits over others who understand the characters' humanity and complexities."
Orson Welles, the play's title character, is overweight (a fat suit may be necessary), temperamental, and conceited. He also has a very specific and recognizable kind of voice that is heard long before the character arrives on stage. Austin Pendleton says he wrote the play with Alfred Molina in mind for the role.
At auditions, at least two sides will be available that reflect the play's humorous and dense language. Everyone in the show speaks in a specific dialect, and an enormous amount of verbal agility is necessary.
"What leads to a callback? Genius, brilliance, and great live acting. I want someone who has a better understanding of the character than I do," Cromer says. "On the other hand, the worst thing you can do is take a long time getting in and out of the room. There's a deadly, awkward amount of time between the door and the stage, and it's not comfortable for anyone."
The New York production employs six actors (four males, two females) in principal roles and three understudies (two males, one female). A new production will open this spring at the Alley Theatre in Houston, but most of that cast will consist of the company's local actors. The creative team foresees many future regional mountings and hopes that there will be a London production and a film adaptation.
-- Matt Windman
Off-Broadway opening: Aug. 14, 2005.
John Fisher's gay-themed romantic comedy had a limited run last winter as "The Joy of Gay Sex." No auditions are currently scheduled, though replacements may be sought in the future. Auditions are by appointment, but headshots and résumés can be sent to casting director Michael Cassara at 676A Ninth Ave., #138, New York, NY 10036.
If replacement auditions are held for "Joy," which seems likely since it has an open-ended run at Actors Playhouse, then the search will be on for some very specific talent. One role, for example, requires a male in his 30s who can not only nail the play's bittersweet romantic tone but also play piano on stage. The piano will accompany several actors who must sing American standards in classic crooner mode. For those singing roles, casting director Michael Cassara says, "it's important for actors to know that it's not about money notes. It's about having a sense of the show's performance style."
Cassara goes on to say he is not looking for replacements who are clones of those who came before them. "We're looking primarily for people who have chemistry with our ensemble," he says, "and for really dynamic actors who fit into the world of the play." Asked to define that world, he explains, "Above everything else, we want to avoid certain stigmas. We're looking for strong actors who understand that this is a romantic comedy that happens to have gay characters. [The actors] have to have that quality where you remind people of someone they know."
Ethnicity will never be a factor in casting, nor will things like height or weight. In fact, Cassara insists he is eager for a strong performer to challenge his ideas about a script. "There have been many times," he recalls, "that a great audition changed [my] conception of a character. It's easy to be wedded to something, and it's liberating to be divorced from it when you see something better come along."
An actor's attitude will make or break an audition with Cassara. "If someone comes in and they're being difficult within five minutes," he states, "then I'm never going to work with them. If somebody's having a bad day, I don't want to know about it." However, he will always take note of a high-energy hopeful who seems like he or she could get along with the artistic team during a lengthy run: "Talent, looks, and skill are a given in New York. I want people who seem fun."
And his door is open to new faces. "I always accept submissions at all times," he promises, "and I open every piece of mail I get."
-- Mark Blankenship
Not-for-Profit Theatres on Broadway and Off
Lincoln Center Theater
Understudy auditions are currently being held for the first two productions of the season: "Third" (opens Off-Broadway Oct. 24) and "Edward Albee's Seascape" (opens on Broadway Nov. 21). Auditions for the season's final play, "The House in Town" (opens Off-Broadway June 8, 2006), may be held in the near future.
"His name is Woodson Bull III, but he's known as Third," says Lincoln Center Theater's casting director, Daniel Swee, about the character whose name inspired the title of the season's first production. "Third," a new five-character play by Wendy Wasserstein, revolves around college professor Laurie Jameson, who accuses a student of plagiarism and is forced to question her longstanding values and ideals. Third is the target of her accusations. "He's extremely smart, optimistic, and energetic," explains Swee, "and is a member of the wrestling team at the small New England college he attends." It is important that the actor playing the role be physically "believable as an athlete." The play's other roles include Emily, a smart Swarthmore College student; Laurie's father, Jack, a "regular guy" in his 70s or 80s who's been a warm, strong, stalwart presence in his daughter's life but is now getting senile; and Nancy, a sardonic colleague and friend of Laurie. "For the understudy," explains Swee, "we're looking for one actor to cover both Laurie and Nancy."
The season's second show, "Edward Albee's Seascape," a new production of Edward Albee's 1975 Pulitzer Prize winner "Seascape," is a four-character play about a retired professional couple in their 60s, Charlie and Nancy, and two lizards, Leslie and Sarah. "Nancy is an optimistic person who has a curiosity about living and is interested in moving ahead in her life," says Swee. "But Charlie, although he's energetic, smart, articulate, and in good shape, is satisfied with the life he has and is not looking to broaden himself in any way. Now, the lizards are in their 20s," Swee continues, "and will be costumed in lizard outfits. They move as lizards but speak in human voices. They assume very traditional male and female roles. Leslie is assertive and aggressive, has an ego, and is watchful. Sarah is less guarded and more open than he is and has an innocence about her." The actors playing the lizards need to be physically adept because they will be crawling around on all fours throughout the play. Though there is no formal movement component built into the audition process for the lizards, "the actors will ultimately need to show us physically that they can 'be' lizards," says Swee.
Casting information is not yet available for "The House in Town," a new Richard Greenberg play to be directed by Doug Hughes.
-- Lisa Jo Sagolla
Roundabout Theatre Company
Casting is complete for "A Naked Girl on the Appian Way." "A Touch of the Poet" has one role remaining to be cast. Offers are out on roles in "Mr. Marmalade," so no auditions are scheduled. For "Entertaining Mr. Sloane," Equity principal auditions will be held Sept. 8, 10 a.m.-1:30 p.m. and 2-6 p.m., at Chelsea Studios, 151 West 26th St., 6th floor, NYC. Sides will be provided at the audition. Performers may submit photos and résumés to the company to be considered for specific shows.
Roundabout Theatre Company will be busy this season producing plays in three venues. The New York premiere of "A Naked Girl on the Appian Way" will star Jill Clayburgh and Richard Thomas. The play, by Richard Greenberg, is a comedy about two siblings who return home from vacation only to wreak havoc on their parents. It will be directed by Doug Hughes at the American Airlines Theatre. The first preview is Sept. 9, with an opening date of Oct. 6.
At Studio 54, Gabriel Byrne will headline Eugene O'Neill's "A Touch of the Poet," also directed by Doug Hughes. The first preview is Nov. 11 and opening night is Dec. 8.
The Laura Pels Theatre will be home to three upcoming shows: "Mr. Marmalade," a comedy for grownups by Noah Haidle, directed by Michael Greif (November); Joe Orton's cult classic "Entertaining Mr. Sloane," directed by Scott Ellis (winter 2006); and a third show to be announced.
Jim Carnahan and his team handle the casting for Roundabout. Casting associate Carrie Gardner gives an update on casting for the season: " 'A Naked Girl on the Appian Way' is already cast, and because it's a limited engagement, we don't have replacement auditions scheduled. We're now looking for one actor in his 60s or 70s who plays the uilleann pipes to play Patch Riley in 'A Touch of the Poet.' It's a very specific skill, so it's been quite difficult to find an actor for this role.
"The show 'Mr. Marmalade' has been either cast or offers are out on roles, so no auditions are scheduled. We will eventually have to cast understudies for 'Mr. Marmalade' and 'A Touch of the Poet' -- I assume those calls will take place at some point in October, but no audition sessions have been set at this point. For 'Entertaining Mr. Sloane,' the EPA call will be held Sept. 8."
Gardner pinpoints one of the most common mistakes performers make in an audition: "I have noticed a few instances of just a general lack of preparation. I'm probably stating the obvious when I say that is part of the actor's job -- to make sure they look like they've done their homework before walking into a room."
She says that the casting team is willing to see actors it may have turned down in previous auditions: "We change our minds occasionally, particularly with a project where casting can depend on who we've decided to cast as a sibling. Someone who was wrong in a pairing with one actor could be right with another."
Actors are encouraged to send in submissions requesting audition appointments for Roundabout productions, according to Gardner: "They're always welcome to submit their picture and résumé for a specific project to us by mail."
-- Elias Stimac
Manhattan Theatre Club
Manhattan Theatre Club is currently in rehearsals for one play, Alan Ayckbourn's "Absurd Person Singular," and six other plays are on the drawing board, including works by John Patrick Shanley, David Lindsay-Abaire, Patrick Marber, Ariel Dorfman, Nilo Cruz, and Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa.
Currently in rehearsals, "Absurd Person Singular" is fully cast, and some of the other plays are partially cast, with name directors at the helm.
As casting director Nancy Piccione noted in discussing "Doubt," actors who are cast in Manhattan Theatre Club plays are, for the most part, known entities -- either familiar to the MTC staff or submitted by agents with whom the theatre has worked in the past.
When actors come in to audition for specific plays, they are asked to read sides from those plays. Piccione reiterates that a familiarity with the play is essential and one of the key considerations in deciding who to call back -- in addition to having given "a truthful audition."
"We do new plays, but that doesn't mean the scripts are not accessible," she stresses. "Even if they're not yet published, we're willing to provide a copy of the script to any actor who's auditioning for us."
Short of preparedness and remaining "focused" during the audition, there are no formulas. Each play has its own specific demands, she says. Some may have colorblind casting; others may not.
MTC also holds open calls on an irregular basis. For these -- none of which are slated at the moment -- an actor should be prepared with two monologues, one classical and one contemporary, three minutes each. "If the actor doesn't have a classical piece prepared, two contemporary pieces will work as well," she says.
If an actor is interested in being considered as a replacement or for a tour of an MTC play, he or she should send a picture, résumé, and cover note indicating which play and part he or she has in mind. There is always the possibility the actor will be called in.
"I generally like to see that an actor has had graduate-school training in acting," says Piccione. "That usually gives them a certain level of technique and confidence."
-- Simi Horwitz
The Public Theater
So far, six productions have been announced for the season: the musical "See What I Wanna See," with words and music by Michael John LaChiusa (Oct. 11-Nov. 20), "The Ruby Sunrise" by Rinne Groff (Nov. 1-Dec. 4), "Measure for Pleasure" by David Grimm (winter), "School of the Americas" by José Rivera (winter),"Let Me Down Easy," written and performed by Anna Deavere Smith (spring), and "Satellites" by Diana Son (spring). Equity principal auditions are held periodically throughout the year and are unconnected to specific projects.
The Public begins its golden anniversary season with the LaChiusa musical, to be described in detail in next week's Music and Singing issue.
Next up is "The Ruby Sunrise," a drama with comic moments that takes place partly in rural Indiana in 1927 and partly in Manhattan 25 years later. The script calls for four women and three men, ranging in age from early 20s to 50s. Much of the casting is already in place, according to casting director Jordan Thaler. Oskar Eustis helms the project.
"Measure for Pleasure" uses language and acting styles from Restoration comedy for a sex farce with modern sensibilities. The story centers on a transvestite prostitute. Four men and three women are needed, ranging in age from 20s to 50-plus. Actors need "really refined classical chops," says Thaler. No formal offers to actors have been made, although some performers have been working on the project during its developmental phases. Peter Dubois directs. Colorblind casting will be utilized for this production.
"School of the Americas" is a co-production with Labyrinth Theater Company, which is in residence at the Public. John Ortiz, a founding member of Labyrinth, will star in Rivera's drama, which is about the imprisonment of Che Guevara in a Bolivian schoolhouse. Other Labyrinth company members will likely be cast, with the Public assisting with additional casting as needed.
No casting will be necessary for "Let Me Down Easy," as it will be performed by its author.
Another drama with comedy, "Satellites," has a contemporary Brooklyn setting and focuses on issues of racism. Needed are three women (Asian-American, 30s; Anglo-American, 30s; Korean-speaking Asian-American, 50s-60s) and three men (African-American, 30s; African-American, mid-40s; Anglo-American, 30s). The director is Michael Greif.
Thaler notes that each theatre company in town distinguishes itself by the plays it produces. While acknowledging that theatre tickets can be expensive research, he encourages actors to familiarize themselves with the kinds of plays a particular theatre produces -- and to select audition material accordingly.
-- Mark Dundas Wood
The first three productions of the season, "Fran's Bed" by James Lapine (opens Sept. 25), "Manic Flight Reaction" by Sarah Schulman (opens Oct. 30), and "Miss Witherspoon" by Christopher Durang (opens in November), have already been cast. Photos and résumés (including self-submissions) are being accepted for roles in the season's other plays, which include "Pen" (opens April 2) and "The Busy World Is Hushed" (opens next spring).
"I'm really looking forward to casting this role," says Playwrights Horizons casting director Alaine Alldaffer. "What I'm looking for is a young undiscovered actor, a guy about 25 years old, sexy, a little dangerous, edgy, and really, really smart. I think trying to find him is going to be a lot of fun. This is the kind of thing I really like doing -- discovering new talent. Casting stars is necessary in order to put bodies in the seats, but finding and putting new actors to work is something I find much more exciting."
The actor Alldaffer is so excited about casting will play the role of the son in Playwrights Horizons' production of "The Busy World Is Hushed," a new three-character play by Keith Bunin. The show's other two roles are the young man's mother, a clergywoman in her 50s, and her assistant, a 30-year-old man. "When I was talking to Keith about casting the role of the son," explains Alldaffer, "I ran some starry names by him and he said, 'You know, I really feel like this role should be cast with a young, fresh actor, someone who's just out of school, someone who's still an unknown commodity.' So that's exactly what I'm going to look for."
Alldaffer is also going to be looking for another young actor, to play the role of the son in "Pen," a new play by David Marshall Grant, which will be the final production of the Playwrights Horizons season. "J. Smith-Cameron is already cast in the role of the mother," says Alldaffer, "and I'm searching for an actor who can play her 'complicated 17-year-old son.' And we may also be looking for someone to play the role of the father. That character is a successful writer in his 40s who's not quite comfortable with being a father. This show will be done in our second-stage space," she explains, and will go into rehearsal in February.
Actors interested in auditioning for roles in any of Playwrights Horizons' productions are always encouraged to submit their photos and résumés. "Anybody can send a picture and résumé to us at any time," says Alldaffer. "I try to look at everything that's submitted -- even self-submits. I don't just look at agent submissions," she emphasizes, "because I'm always very interested in meeting new people."
-- Lisa Jo Sagolla
New York Theatre Workshop
Casting is complete for "Bach at Leipzig" (opens Nov. 14). Auditions for readings and additional productions are to be announced.
Jack Doulin, casting director for New York Theatre Workshop, says that not only does he hold auditions for the specific productions presented at the theatre each year, he also holds general auditions on a regular basis: "I get many headshots and résumés in the mail every day. I decide who from that pile I'm interested in seeing."
What attracts his eye from these self-submissions varies. "It might be because of a particular teacher or training program," he says, "or perhaps a particular interest that they indicate." Sometimes, he says, "it might be because I think they're an interesting type." Doulin maintains that he will "look for reasons for seeing somebody rather than not. I don't care if someone has an agent or if they're Equity. It's all about can they act or are they right for a particular role."
For the invited general auditions and Equity principal auditions, Doulin says he likes to give actors "a lot of time." He has no set rule for what actors should prepare: "I tell them to do whatever they want to do. If they want to do one contemporary and one classical piece, that's fine. Or if they want to do two contemporary monologues, that's fine, too. What I'm most interested in is seeing an actor come in and do something and really, really do it."
Doulin says he understands that all actors want to show their range during an audition, but for his purposes it's better to "do one monologue from something and really invest in it" rather than "rush through one to then show off another."
He says it's the ability to demonstrate bold choices in both monologues and in reading from sides that makes a performer stand out in auditions, which he knows are part of "a profession made up of rejection, followed by more rejection." Because of this understanding, Doulin tries to make the audition process as "actor-friendly" as possible: "I love actors and I simply have great respect for what they do."
-- Andy Propst
The season includes three plays: Terrence McNally's "Dedication or the Stuff of Dreams," which opened Aug. 18; Charles Grodin's "The Right Kind of People," starting in January; and "A Safe Harbor for Elizabeth Bishop" by Marta Góes, set for April. Audition dates for "The Right Kind of People" will be announced soon.
Primary Stages' 21st season is off and running with "Dedication or the Stuff of Dreams," a play about theatre life starring Nathan Lane and Marian Seldes (in a highly acclaimed performance). A further extension of the show's run beyond the currently scheduled Oct. 2 closing (itself extended from Sept. 18) may be announced shortly. Don Amendolia has replaced Nathan Lane, who has left the show to headline in "The Odd Couple."
"The Right Kind of People" goes into rehearsal in December and will begin preview performances Jan. 24. Chris Smith directs. The sardonic comedy is based on Grodin's real-life experiences with a co-op board.
Casting director Stephanie Klapper says the show has a cast of eight men and two women, with actors playing multiple roles. The ensemble is diverse in terms of age, with characters ranging from their 30s to their 70s. However, the cast is not ethnically diverse. That's actually the point of the play, Klapper explains: The people on the co-op board are critical of every ethnic group; they are so highly selective, in fact, that they themselves would probably no longer qualify for membership.
Klapper is not sure whether actors will have access to the full script for auditions. It will depend largely on where Grodin is in the revision process at the time of the call. Most likely, the auditions will involve the reading of sides. (The play does have some longer monologues, she notes.)
Generally speaking, Klapper believes actors should do all the homework they can to prepare for an audition. In this particular case, she advises them to take a look at some of Grodin's books in order to get a sense of his writing style and his brand of humor.
When a script is available to actors, she says, they needn't come to the call "off book."
"I don't think it's about memorization," she explains. "I think it's about giving us a flavor of what their work is."
"A Safe Harbor for Elizabeth Bishop" is to be directed by Richard Jay-Alexander. It's a monodrama starring Amy Irving, and no auditions will be held.
-- Mark Dundas Wood
Second Stage Theatre
Second Stage Theatre's four-play season will consist of a revival of "A Soldier's Play" (opening Oct. 17), "The Little Dog Laughed" by Douglas Carter Beane (opens Jan. 9), a new play by Paul Weitz (opens late February), and Theresa Rebeck's "The Water's Edge" (opens early May).
According to Dunja Vitolic at Tara Rubin Casting, actors should approach the theatre by sending a headshot and résumé requesting consideration for a particular role or production. She says, "Pictures and résumés that get mailed to our office always get looked at."
In addition to self-submitted or agent-submitted résumés, Vitolic says, "we have the Equity auditions at the top of the season.... As of late, they haven't been as overpopulated as they've been in the past, so we've even been able to see a lot of non-Equity performers."
The theatre's opener, "A Soldier's Play," has been cast, she says, and understudy auditions have not been scheduled. Her office is just beginning to prepare for "The Little Dog Laughed" and there is no definite schedule for the two remaining shows in the season.
For auditions, Vitolic warns against preparing new material: "It almost never goes as well as you want it to." Instead, she suggests that actors use something that is similar in style to the piece for which they're auditioning. Being prepared in this manner "shows that you're very smart and have done your research."
Actors should remember the adage "Leave 'em wanting more" when auditioning, she says: "Don't run long. Remember, if it's too short and I'm intrigued, I'll ask for more. But if it's too long, I can't even ask."
Vitolic advises actors not to "be so married to their choices that they can't take direction." She might say, for example, "That's a great monologue, but now how about doing it in these circumstances?" An actor's ability to adjust the monologue is key and demonstrates that he or she would be a good company member. It's the quality of being both "very well prepared and very relaxed" that leads to a callback.
As a rule of thumb, Vitolic feels that actors "should not put their imaginary scene partner to one side of the stage" when presenting their monologue: "It splits my attention. They should put their scene partner behind the person at the casting table." Similarly, she reminds actors to always "animate the imaginary scene partner and give them imaginary reactions. It gives the monologue more depth. Remember, it's the only time when you have total control over your scene."
-- Andy Propst
The New Group
The New Group's upcoming season includes "Abigail's Party" by Mike Leigh (November); Wallace Shawn's "The Music Teacher," with music by Allen Shawn (February); "Everything's Turning Into Beautiful" by Seth Zvi Rosenfeld (spring); and "A Spalding Gray Matter," written and performed by Michael Brandt (also spring). The next (and only remaining) Equity principal audition will be for "The Music Teacher." This will likely be scheduled for September or October.
"Abigail's Party," the first offering of the New Group's 2005-06 season, is already largely cast, according to casting director Judy Henderson. This Mike Leigh play, to be directed by Artistic Director Scott Elliott and headlined by Jennifer Jason Leigh, is a comedy with considerable bite. Henderson notes that Elliott has referred to the script as "the English version of 'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?' "
The last two offerings of the season -- "Everything's Turning Into Beautiful" and "A Spalding Gray Matter" -- are also fully cast. "Everything" is a two-hander that will star Bobby Cannavale and Annabella Sciorra. "A Spalding Gray Matter" is a one-man performance presented as part of the company's New Group (naked) series. Associate Artistic Director Ian Morgan will direct Michael Brandt in this intimate offering.
That leaves Wallace Shawn's "The Music Teacher," which is subtitled "A Play/Opera." According to Morgan, this production will make unprecedented use of vocal music (by Shawn's brother, composer Allen Shawn). The play is not a musical, per se. Rather, it integrates operatic musical moments into the story of a male music teacher and his female pupil. The musical sequences will help to create a dreamlike atmosphere.
The script is very much in the tone of Wallace Shawn's "Aunt Dan and Lemon," Morgan notes. It's a story of artistic and personal obsession. The music is modern, though it's also romantic in places; Morgan likens it to "chamber-opera style." Some of the singers act only in the confines of the play's operatic moments. Conversely, some of the actors in the main story don't sing at all. The supporting cast will include men and women of various ages who will be called on to play multiple roles in the music-school setting.
It's not clear yet whether actors and singers will be called in separate auditions. Morgan notes that the New Group seeks new and interesting performers for the project -- not necessarily people who've worked with the company previously.
The director for "The Music Teacher" has not been announced. Negotiations are ongoing.
-- Mark Dundas Wood
Classic Stage Company
The 2005-06 season consists of Shakespeare's "Hamlet" (Nov. 2-Dec. 11); "Fragment 174," Charles L. Mee's modern take on Sophocles' "The Dolopians" (March 22-April 9); and "Faust, Part 1 and Part 2," a production by Target Margin Theater (April 21-May 21). Equity principal auditions were held for "Hamlet" on Aug. 31. Upcoming EPAs are expected for the latter two shows. Pictures and résumés may be sent to casting director James Calleri in care of his office at Playwrights Horizons, 416 West 42nd St., New York, NY 10036.
Casting director James Calleri has already held EPAs for Classic Stage Company's production of "Hamlet" and has not yet even received the scripts for the company's next two productions. "We usually have one EPA for each production," he explains. "With Playwrights Horizons, which I also cast for, the entire season is planned and announced much earlier, so we have one EPA for the entire season." When auditioning for CSC, which regularly performs the classics, he recommends "having good language technique, some training in classical text, particularly Shakespeare."
"Find out what the theatre company is known for," he adds. "If they do mostly contemporary work, do a modern piece. If it's Classic Stage, it can be contemporary, but we're looking for language-oriented pieces. You should have a clear understanding of the verse and how to use it."
Calleri doesn't mind frequently performed monologues, "as long as you do it better than anybody else."
"The best advice I can give is to be really well prepared and comfortable with the text and have a really clear idea of what you're going for in the scene. Make clear, strong choices," he states. Calleri also casts for Hartford Stage, independent films, and television. "It's all the same file space," he concludes, referring to actors submitting photos and résumés to him. "Everything informs everything else. If you send me your headshot, you can be in the file for any of the projects I'm working on. You're not limited to one thing."
-- David Sheward
Classical Theatre of Harlem
The theatre will produce four shows in its 2005-06 season: "Medea" (opens Sept. 15), "Funnyhouse of a Negro" by Adrienne Kennedy (scheduled for January-February), Friedrich Durrenmatt's "The Physicists" (scheduled for March-April), and "Emancipation" by Ty Jones (scheduled for June-July).
Christopher McElroen, co-founder and executive director of the Classical Theatre of Harlem, says the company accepts headshots and résumés throughout the season. All submissions are reviewed and "we keep a very active file. We've been known to call people two years after we've heard from them."
Casting has already been completed for the first production, "Medea." For the remainder of the season, McElroen says they will contact people from their files and do a day of Equity principal auditions for each show. He anticipates that auditions for "Funnyhouse of a Negro" will take place in October. Auditions for "The Physicists" will be held in late November and early December, and auditions for "Emancipation" will be held at the end of March.
Although the theatre maintains a core company of actors, McElroen says that each of its productions uses a mix of company and noncompany performers. "We're always looking to work with new people," he says. "If the relationship with a noncompany actor is good and we discover that we have a shared sense of theatre, we work toward bringing new acquaintances into the company."
For auditions, McElroen says actors should prepare two contrasting monologues, but they shouldn't assume the word "classical" in the theatre's name means they should prepare a Shakespeare monologue. "That's not always the best thing," he says, "particularly if you haven't had a lot of training or spent a lot of time with the text. It's much better to use something you feel confident with."
McElroen adds that it's equally important for people to be at ease with the play for which they're being considered: "It's part of the post-audition talk that we have: 'Have you read the play? What do you know about the playwright?' " He says he often "takes a lot out of" such exchanges.
Performers who have auditioned for the company previously should not think that working for the theatre is out of the question: "We've auditioned people four and five times before we've cast them." This is not a reflection on their talent, he says. "Sometimes it's about finding the right look and type. I know actors don't like hearing that. That's why I try to be so very respectful of actors."
-- Andy Propst
Three plays make up MCC's 2005-06 season: "Colder Than Here" is in rehearsals. Auditions for "The Wooden Breeks" will be held in October, and "Swallowing Bicycles" will hold auditions in February. Send photos and résumés for specific roles to MCC Theater, 145 West 28th St., 8th floor, New York, NY 10001.
MCC will celebrate its 20th year with a fresh season of new plays: "Colder Than Here," "The Wooden Breeks," and "Swallowing Bicycles." Artistic Director Bernard Telsey reminisces about how MCC began: "After studying acting and producing at NYU, I knew I wanted to run a theatre -- and I knew I had to make it happen rather than wait for it to happen to me, so me and a bunch of people from our graduating class started a group. I've always loved the idea of creating work for people."
MCC's season kicks off with "Colder Than Here," by British playwright Laura Wade and helmed by British director Abigail Morris. The comic drama, starring Judith Light, is currently in rehearsals and will run Sept. 7-Oct. 15. Set in England, it revolves around Myra (Light), who, after learning of her impending death, sets out to plan the perfect funeral and leave behind a perfectly ordered life, forcing her uncommunicative husband and two daughters to face the truth and one another.
Next in line is Glen Berger's "The Wooden Breeks," directed by Garry Hynes (1998 Tony Award winner for "The Beauty Queen of Leenane"). This adult fairy tale begins previews Feb. 2 and will run through March 11. Auditions are expected to begin in October. The cast is composed of nine -- three women and six men -- most of whom play double roles. The ages range from 20s to late 40s and casting is colorblind. Irish and English accents are needed.
"We're looking for courageous, brave actors who are game. Actors that can keep the ball in the air," Telsey says. "The play is a grand, adult fairy tale. It's storytelling theatre. The tone is highly theatrical."
The season concludes with Neil LaBute's comedy "Swallowing Bicycles," under Jo Bonney's direction, which is slated to open May 17 and run through June 24. When asked how many characters there are, Telsey reveals: "The play isn't written yet. I know Neil is shooting for a cast of four, but that could change as he writes."
MCC will have a series of readings to support the play's development. Auditions for the production will commence sometime in February.
-- Phoebe Kmeck
Signature Theatre Company
Casting is complete for Horton Foote's "The Trip to Bountiful." Auditions for the rest of the season will be posted in Back Stage. Send photos and résumés to Will Cantler, Bernard Telsey Casting, 145 West 28th St., Suite 12F, New York, NY 10001.
In a normal year, Signature Theatre Company devotes its season to examining the works of one playwright. But to celebrate its 15th anniversary, the theatre will launch an expanded 20-month period of programming in honor of its previously featured playwrights. The special season will conclude with a series of plays by the next playwright-in-residence, August Wilson.
The season kicks off with Horton Foote's drama "The Trip to Bountiful," directed by Harris Yulin and running Nov. 15-Jan. 8, with a possible extension to Jan. 29. Casting is complete for this production. Set in southern Texas in the 1950s, the play follows an older woman on her determined journey back to her hometown in order to make peace with her past.
Casting director Will Cantler of Bernard Telsey Casting reports that the only play of the season they are currently working on is "The Trip to Bountiful." No other auditions for the season have been scheduled, but they will begin sometime in the fall.
Plays making up the rest of Signature's expanded season include John Guare's "Landscape of the Body," directed by Michael Greif (February-April), and a staged reading of Adrienne Kennedy's adaptation of Gustave Flaubert's "Madame Bovary" in spring 2006. The August Wilson series begins with a revival of "Two Trains Running," September-October 2006. A marathon of readings from Wilson's 10-play cycle will take place in 10 days in February 2007, and it is hoped the season will conclude with a world premiere running February-April 2007. (At press time, it was unclear how the recent announcement that Wilson has inoperable liver cancer would affect these plans.)
Signature does not employ understudies for its productions.
When auditioning for the company, Cantler advises, "don't be afraid to ask informed questions. If you don't understand a direction, you should ask for clarification. I've seen actors wreck their audition because they weren't clear about what the director was telling them to do."
-- Phoebe Kmeck
Irish Repertory Theatre
No auditions are currently scheduled. Two Equity principal auditions (EPAs) are held per year. Actors may send photos and résumés to the Irish Repertory Theatre, Attn: Charlotte Moore, 132 West 22nd St., 2nd floor, New York, NY 10011.
Three of the four plays in the Irish Repertory Theatre's upcoming season, including the Christmas show, are yet to be determined. The only play confirmed so far is "Philadelphia, Here I Come!" by Brian Friel, whose July 14-Sept. 4 run has been extended to Sept. 25. Artistic Director Charlotte Moore comments on Irish Rep's strategy of selecting plays at the last minute: "We purposely pick our shows late because that's how we get better casts. On our small scale, it's hard for people to commit to a project six months in advance. We've learned that a lot of times, strangely, well-known people come up at the last minute because they aren't doing anything."
Irish Rep casts through agent submissions, open calls, and its own files one month before each production begins rehearsals. Auditions are otherwise held on an ongoing basis throughout the year. The company holds two EPAs a year; the most recent one was in August.
Moore openly encourages actors to send their pictures and résumés to the theatre: "Ciarán [O'Reilly] and I look at every single picture and résumé. None get tossed. As an actress, I know that sending out headshots costs time and money. One of those actors may be just what we're looking for."
While Irish Rep seeks to produce solely Irish and Irish-American writers, the company is not as strict when selecting actors: "Our main concern is that they're good, but it's rare that we're able to find people who can authentically pull off an Irish accent."
Actors auditioning for an Irish Rep play are asked to read from sides. When asked about some common mistakes actors make at auditions, Moore refuses to criticize: "I understand that people are nervous. I never hold that against them. Ciarán and I are both actors and we certainly understand nerves. We try to be careful and to put people at ease. We want their audition to be in an open and free environment so they're able to do their best and do it the way they want to."
-- Phoebe Kmeck
Atlantic Theater Company
The Atlantic's 2005-06 season comprises four plays: "The Intelligent Design of Jenny Chow" is halfway through rehearsals. Auditions for Harold Pinter's "Celebration" and "The Room" were completed at the end of August. Casting is primarily from the company's ensemble and students from the Atlantic Acting School. Annual Equity principal auditions are held. Send photos and résumés to Atlantic Theater Company, 336 West 20th St., New York, NY 10011.
Every year, Atlantic Theater Company, founded by William H. Macy and David Mamet, accepts two or three new members into its ensemble, usually from the student body of its acting school or artists who have previously worked with the company. Members of the ensemble include Kristen Johnston, Mary Steenburgen, and Larry Bryggman.
Beginning the new season is Rolin Jones' "The Intelligent Design of Jenny Chow, " a boundary-crossing drama about a young Asian woman, adopted at birth and severely agoraphobic, who designs a robot to help her find her birth mother. Directed by Jackson Gay, it begins previews Aug. 31 and runs through Oct. 16, with a possible extension to Oct. 23. Casting is complete for this production.
A double-bill of Harold Pinter's one-act plays "Celebration" and "The Room," under the direction of Artistic Director Neil Pepe, will run Nov. 16-Jan. 28. The two plays contain a total of 15 roles, some of which will be doubled. "Celebration" is an ensemble piece consisting of five men and four women between the ages of 25 and 55. Actors need comic timing and plausible British accents. "The Room" has a cast of six: two women and four men. Auditions for both took place at the end of August.
Martin McDonagh's Olivier Award-winning dark comedy "The Lieutenant of Inishmore," directed by Wilson Milam, opens Feb. 8. Regional Irish accents are needed for this play. Auditions will take place this winter on a date to be determined.
Casting director Will Cantler of Bernard Telsey Casting reveals some common mistakes that actors make: "Props, furniture, elaborate staging, and the like are all exhausting in an audition. It's far more important to be abreast of the material and prepared."
-- Phoebe Kmeck
Mint Theater Company
The Mint Theater Company opens the world premiere of Dawn Powell's "Walking Down Broadway" on Sept. 15. A one-performance reading of Edith Wharton and Clyde Fitch's adaptation of Wharton's novel "The House of Mirth" will occur on Oct. 17, and Rachel Crothers' "Susan and God" is scheduled for sometime later in the season.
Artistic Director Jonathan Bank says flatly, "I don't know what the next play's going to be."
Bank prefers not to give auditioning advice to actors regarding a specific play, but he can give actors a general overview of how to audition when they come to the Mint.
"I pay close attention to the disposition of the actor in the auditioning process," he says. "I like an actor who has a plan, who knows what he wants to do in an audition, who takes charge of a room for himself and his time.
"I don't want to suggest that an actor should manufacture his approach," he adds. "But occasionally an actor will move the chair out of his way and clearly have a plan of how he wants to spend his time. It's so different from the actor who is simply trying to guess what I might be looking for. It's so much more interesting when someone comes in with ideas, when they come in with the attitude of 'I hope you're looking for what I've got. I hope you and I agree on what I see in this part.'
"One of my pet peeves is the actor who asks me if there's anything in particular that I'm looking for. I'm looking for someone who doesn't ask that question."
To get a callback, an actor must be "appropriate for the part," Bank explains. "Actors don't like to hear this, but I assume a level of talent. So the actor getting callbacks is not the one whose talent shines. It's really a question of the relationship between the needs of the actor and the needs of the character, and those things are closely aligned."
To more clearly understand Bank's view, he says, "I recommend highly that actors seek opportunities to work as a reader. They'll quickly understand what I'm saying when they're on the other side."
How does one get an appointment to audition at the Mint?
"We operate on Equity's transition agreement," notes Bank. "We do an open call with every show, and we also do appointments through a casting director."
-- Roger Armbrust
Pan Asian Repertory Theatre
The 2005-06 season includes two productions -- "Cambodia Agonistes" (Oct. 29-Nov. 20) and "Private Lives" (June 2006) -- and a workshop of "The Fan Tan King" (December 2005 or sometime in 2006). Casting for "Cambodia Agonistes" is complete. Auditions for "The Fan Tan King" and "Private Lives" are still to be announced. Headshots and résumés can be mailed to Pan Asian Repertory Theatre, 520 Eighth Ave., Suite 314, New York, NY 10018.
"We have a track record for programming plays having to do with the whole spectrum of the Asian experience," says Tisa Chang, the artistic producing director of Off-Broadway's Pan Asian Repertory Theatre. "That means what we produce is diverse, and that means we cast according to the script, whatever it calls for."
Consider one of the three projects slated for Pan Asian Rep's 29th season: a revival of Noël Coward's modern classic "Private Lives," which opens next June. (Before it will be "Cambodia Agonistes," a music-theatre work, and a workshop of "The Fan Tan King," a musical by "Flower Drum Song" novelist C.Y. Lee.)
To play the four central characters in "Private Lives," each of whom must deliver bits of Coward's sparkling wit and more than a few of the playwright's brilliant bons mots, Chang is seeking "four extraordinary actors, because Coward requires a style of acting that includes precision of language, fluency, and savior-faire, as well as a kind of physical body language and comportment."
Before auditioning, Chang strongly suggests that actors read and research: "It's interesting -- young actors sometimes have not read what we'd call 'modern classics,' and I really urge them to soak up the text before they come in." Typically, Chang provides sides to actors in advance -- sometimes weeks in advance -- but asks for a monologue, too: "I like to see one classical or one contemporary monologue or something they feel showcases them best. It could be solo work that they created -- whatever gives me a sense of their expressiveness."
-- Leonard Jacobs
WorkShop Theater Company
No auditions are scheduled at this time, but plays are usually cast from the company. Membership auditions are held annually.
The WorkShop Theater Company has been in existence for over a decade, starting in 1994 as the 42nd Street Workshop. According to its website, the group develops "new theatrical works by supporting a structured creative process that takes scripts from their initial inspiration, through various sit-down and three-day staged readings, to early runs of promising work."
The group has several different types of offerings in its two adjoining venues -- the Main Stage and Jewel Box theatres -- as well as a "Sundays at Six" reading series and occasional collaborations with other companies. Coming up on the Main Stage is a pair of plays running in repertory, Sept. 15-Oct. 15: "Stealing Home" by Raymond Alvin, directed by Ted Sod, and "Raisins Not Virgins" by Sharbari Ahmed, directed by Thomas Cote. Future Jewel Box presentations include Shakespeare's "Antony and Cleopatra," adapted and directed by Jerry Less (Oct. 6-22), and Arthur Miller's "A View From the Bridge," directed by Dominick Feola (Oct. 25-Nov. 5).
Matt Walker has been the group's casting director for the past three years, as well as an actor with the company since its founding. He relates that most members end up learning backstage and administrative skills while at the same time getting a showcase for their acting talents:
"We are a membership company with over 200 actors, writers, and directors. Auditions for new members are held approximately once a year. Our casting needs are always changing, and we're constantly looking for team players, people who are willing to contribute their time to a volunteer organization. We no longer charge cash dues; the membership requirement is 40 hours of volunteer work per year -- that's less than one hour a week."
Walker offers some reminders for actors in any audition situation: "Be prepared. I usually ask for a two- to three-minute monologue of your choice. Be sure to pick something that's right for you and, of course, that you're very comfortable with. And don't be afraid to take a risk."
He explains that actors who would like to get involved with the group would benefit from seeing the WorkShop crew in action: "I would like to encourage anyone who is interested in membership to see one of our Main Stage productions. Equity Showcase rules usually apply, so Equity members can get in free if the show isn't sold out. Please visit our website at www.workshoptheater.org for more information."
-- Elias Stimac