How We Cast
Our casting philosophy is simple: put the person best fit for the role into the role. That is decided over many different ways, but the biggest factor in determining the fit for a role is an audition (and callback.) You can demonstrate your fit for a role by showing preparation for the audition - doing a little research to know the character and demonstrating those qualities in your audition. Having a well-memorized monologue that makes use of vocal expression, gestures, facial expression, and movement goes a long way. For a musical, demonstrating you have the voice for the part is important as well.
It is important here to take a break for an important note: WLA does not cast based on seniority. We do this for a few reasons: A newcomer may be a better fit for a role than someone who has done a few shows, and this allows for our program to grow. Seniority can be a benefit, though: Typically those with more experience do better in auditions because they have had some acting training and understand the process better. That being said, if two actors equally fit the director's vision for the role, seniority could be one of the deciding factors, along with those that follow.
One major item that decides whether a person is a good fit is physical presence. Unfortunately, this is not something that is easy to change, and in some cases, can't be changed at all. The director has a vision for the show and the way you present your character needs to fit that. For instance, in the show The Wizard of Oz, one director may seek a more chipper, upbeat Dorothy or a goofy, bumbling Wizard while another director may seek a more meek and scared Dorothy or intimidating, intense Wizard. For Annie, the person playing Annie will need to be able to look like a young girl. Costume and makeup can help, of course - but may not achieve the correct results.
Another factor can be time commitment: If two students are extremely close in talent and fit the director's vision, a student who is not in many activities may be preferred over a student who is constantly busy. This is rarely a deciding factor, but it can come into play.
Finally, for students who have been in previous productions, commitment to the program and a demonstration that you want to get better is important. This includes attending drama trips and camps, going to festivals, seeing plays and shows, and attending rehearsals. Students who demonstrate a willingness to grow will naturally improve over students who never desire to grow (similar to a basketball player who never practices shooting form outside of games compared to one who works each night on form.) For others, a desire to grow and change can be shown in auditions: We are always intrigued by students who tell us "I am always cast in this type of role, but I'd like to try this instead." Finally, for returning cast members, if you never show up to rehearsal - especially without excusing yourself - or always distract from what we are doing on stage - this makes it difficult for us to want to cast you.
So to sum it up, about 60% of the casting is ability - are you a great performer? Then, 25% is do you - your physical presence, your demeanor, you voice, your acting - fit the role as the director sees fit? Finally, about 15% is your commitment. Are you able to commit to the show? Are you going to be pulled in a number of different directions? Have you shown commitment in the past by: a) being present in all rehearsals for previous shows? b) giving your all, even to "small" roles? c) attending theatre workshops, trips, set buildings, and work days? d) being a good leader for the program both inside and outside of rehearsal and shows? e) helping out outside of scheduled events (painting during study hall, hanging posters, etc.)
Thanks for reading! We want the best program for you! Casting is one of the most difficult aspects of putting a show together. We don't take this lightly - and we hope you don't either. If you are trying to decide whether to "go for it" - in the words of Cameron Mackintosh, "Anything can happen if you let it! If you reach for the stars, all you get are the stars, but we've found a whole new spin. If you reach for the heavens, you get the stars thrown in!" ("Anything Can Happen if You Let It," from Mary Poppins, the Musical)