Casting Information From the Founders

Many times casting appears as though leading roles are given to a small group of people over and over again. It is important to understand that fairness goes both ways. Many CYT kids have worked very hard on their skills. They never miss a class, they take dance classes, voice classes and acting classes because they want to improve on their God-given gifts and abilities. Then when they audition they tend to be head and shoulders above other students. It would be totally unfair to that student to not cast them just because they had a role before. It would be showing favoritism to the weaker student if they were rewarded over the student that has proven themselves at the audition and callbacks. Many times these kind of students tend to be children of parents who are closely connected to CYT because the parents are doing what any parent would do - be involved with what their child loves to do. Therefore it looks like favoritism but in reality it’s just that the student is really good. They shouldn’t be penalized for working hard, training and being good. 

In this crazy world of wanting to make everything “fair” and “equal” we have lost the value of healthy competition. In a world where everyone gets a trophy, something inevitably happens - the trophy has no value. The kids know it and don’t want it.  Study after study has demonstrated that “fairness” doesn’t mean everyone getting the same reward. 

“Fairness” and “equality” means everyone should get the same opportunity to demonstrate their abilities to compete for the reward. 

What wonderful life lessons CYT can teach our children and parents. 
What is an audition and why is it important in theater arts training?
An audition is part of the process to arrive at casting a production. CYT has always felt that the audition process is an important aspect to theater arts training in that it is a primary way in which an actor learns how to present him or herself. As a result of this process, whether a child is cast or not, a number of character traits are developed: hard work, discipline, commitment, and accepting disappointment. CYT has chosen to use the audition process versus simply casting all children in the production in order to further develop these important characteristics. Secondarily, CYT’s mission also includes presenting a quality product to the community. This involves allowing directors to make choices that reflect their artistic opinions.

Auditions are a wonderful way for students to gain self-confidence and experience in performing in front of people. Currently enrolled CYT students ages 8-18 on the day of auditions are invited to audition for any one of the CYT productions each session.  They must be enrolled in at least one class during that same session.  Students do not need previous theater experience to audition.

AUDITION PROCESS

1. SIGN UP: Once you register for class, you can sign up for an audition timeslot for whichever show you choose.
2.  COMPLETE THE ONLINE AUDITION PACKET:  Our audition packet is now online.  You will need to complete all pages.  You do NOT need to print this packet.  We access it online.  At the end, there is a link for the few pages you do need to print and bring with you to auditions.
2. PREPARE: You will need a 1 min. monologue and a 1 min. song
3. AUDITION DAY: Show up for your audition 30 minutes early. Bring the Costume form and the Production fee form, along with your headshot and production fee payment.

Open auditions
CYT Houston is once again opening auditions. This means that other auditioners, as well as parents and siblings, will be able to sit and watch auditions and support their friends.  For students who may be nervous about auditioning, it may help them to sit and watch some auditions first, and experience the positive experience that open auditions bring.  How many people are allowed into auditions at any one time will be dependent on the size of the audition venue.


Audition Tips
  • You are limited to one minute for your song and one minute for your monologue. Show the best of your talents!
  • Introduce yourself with energy and confidence.
  • Smile!
  • Sing an appropriate song in your range – a children’s song or show tune is recommended.
  • You will have uploaded your song when completing your audition packet online.  If you didn't upload it at the time, ask the Coordinator for the link to upload it.  All music must be uploaded by the Wednesday before auditions.
  • Perform a monologue or dance routine or other special skill if you aren’t a singer.
  • You will be asked to learn and perform a short dance routine with a group.
If you are cast...
  • You must be at all rehearsals for which you are scheduled. If an absence is necessary, permission must be received from the Show Coordinator or Stage Manager. Conflicts (other than illness) after casting are not allowed.
  • All conflicts must be listed at the time of auditions and will be taken under consideration during casting. 
  • You may not leave rehearsal early.
  • You must be at all performances. This may include missing one day of school.
  • You must pay a Production Fee at auditions.
  • Your parents must agree to attend two parent meetings and to serve on a Parent Production Team in addition to working shows. Each volunteer will get at least one show off of their committee so they may watch.   An "Adult Sponsor" may volunteer these hours in the place of a parent and designate the hours to a cast member.
     
Parents must agree to the following:
I realize that if my child is chosen for the cast, I will be responsible to make sure he/she attends every performance and every rehearsal for which he/she is scheduled. In case of illness, I will notify the Chapter Coordinator in advance. In order to ensure the quality of rehearsals and the production.  I understand that students who audition are NOT eligible for a class tuition refund. I understand that I will be charged a Production Fee at auditions, which is fully refundable if they are cut from the show. I am also responsible for personal items (i.e., shoes, tights, make-up). I understand that I will be required to attend two parent meetings and to volunteer on a pre-show and show week committee as part of a Parent Production Team.

WHAT TO DO IN ADVANCE:
  • Prepare a 60-second song in the style of the show in which you're audtioning with musical accompaniment (no vocals), as well as a 30 second to 1 minute monologue. Not all shows require a monologue, but it is always recommended to have one 
  • Practice, practice, practice! Memorize your song. 
  • Sign up for an audition time slot once you are registered for a class. Parents/guardians, sign up for the Facebook group. This allows a lot of interaction prior to auditions. 

WHAT TO BRING TO AUDITIONS:
Lots of enthusiasm and a smile!
Arrive with the Production Fee form with payment, the costume form with basic information completed, and appropriately dressed.  Auditioning is like a job interview.  You don’t need to wear a suit, but don’t wear shorts and flip flops.
Attach one headshot to the costume form.
Prepare a 60-second song in the style of the show for which you’re auditioning.  Your musical accompaniment should be without vocals. Also prepare a 30 second to one-minute monologue. Not all shows require a monologue, but it is recommended to have one prepared.
If you prefer to bring an accompanist, check with the Chapter Coordinator to verify if there will be a keyboard available. 
 
DO NOT: Sing without accompaniment (acapella).
DO NOT: Rock back and forth, or fidget.
DO NOT: Sing directly to the judges, pick a point beyond their heads.
DO NOT: Use an accent unless the artistic team specifically asks for one.
DO: Put on your very best show with confidence and a smile.
DO: Show confidence even if you don’t feel you sing well.
DO: Choose a song that fits your vocal range and ability.

I came to CYT with my daughter. She is grown now with a child of her own. I'm still here and I don't plan to leave anytime soon!


Dee Willis - parent and teacher

What is the Commitment?

STUDENT COMMITMENT:
If a student is cast in a CYT show, rehearsals are mandatory. Any conflicts with the rehearsal schedule must be listed on your audition form and may affect casting decisions.

REGULAR REHEARSALS: Friday nights and Saturdays beginning the first weekend after casting and continuing through the opening of the show. Occasional weeknight rehearsals may also be scheduled.
TECH REHEARSALS: Tech rehearsals (aka Tech Week) are scheduled the 4 days before the show opens. Changes to this will be announced at auditions. Absences during tech week and shows are not permitted. Please check your schedule BEFORE you audition re. tech week and show dates.
PARENT COMMITMENT:
COMMITTEES: At least one parent of each cast member must work on both a pre-show and a show-week committee. While not required, additional help is appreciated from families with multiple children in the show. Older siblings or other designated adults may substitute for parents.
You may pay an opt-out fee if you do not want to work a committee. 
PARENT MEETINGS: There are two mandatory parent meetings scheduled that at least one parent must attend. The initial parent meeting is generally the first rehearsal weekend. The second parent meeting is one or two weeks prior to the opening of the show. Exact dates are announced on the detailed rehearsal schedule distributed at auditions. Rehearsal schedules are subject to change.
FINANCIAL COMMITMENT:
  1. PRODUCTION FEE: There is a production fee for each cast member which covers most expenses including meals between shows on Saturday and a show t-shirt. Production fees must be paid at auditions. Students will not be cast unless their production fee has been paid. Production fees will be refunded if your student is not cast in the production.
  2. ADDITIONAL EXPENSES: Additional expenses (if needed) may include any personal undergarments or footwear/dance shoes as outlined by the costumer. Cast members will be responsible for obtaining their own makeup for each show, with the exception of specialty makeup. The makeup committee will let each cast member know what he or she may need.
  3. OPTIONAL, COMMON EXPENSES: Photo Buttons, Production Video, Directors’ Gifts, and Congratulatory Ads in the program.

The Casting Process

Casting a show is a complex process. We want to help you understand some of the factors that go into casting decisions.
There are some things you can do absolutely nothing about which may have a bearing on casting. These include your height, the height of others, your vocal range, what specific parts are available in a particular production, the sizes of previously constructed costumes as well as a myriad of other uncontrollable factors.
However, there are some things you can do that may affect the outcome of your audition.
  • PREPARATION: Prepare the best audition that you can. For callbacks, research the show and learn about the parts. If sides are provided, work with them until your callback.
  • BEHAVIOR: Directors want to work with people who behave well, and they may ask your Chapter Coordinator and others about you. Don’t harm your chances of being cast in a show by exhibiting poor behavior in class, at rehearsals, at shows, and even at auditions and callbacks.
  • PARENTS: This is also good advice for parents.  Don’t harm your student’s chances by exhibiting poor character or behavior.   Your behavior is also factored into difficult casting decisions.
  • VOCAL TRAINING: Take CYT classes and/or private voice instruction to improve your vocal range and performance.
  • DANCE TRAINING: Lack of dance ability often keeps good singers and actors from getting parts in musical theater. Take CYT classes and/or dance instruction to improve your skills.    
  • READINGS: Show the director good character development and appropriate emotion at callbacks.
Good advice:  do what you can do, don’t worry about what you can’t do, and leave the final decision to the Lord!

 

How To Handle Disappointment

Several times every year anticipation, excitement, nervousness, and sometimes, disappointment comes to many of those auditioning for CYT productions. The fact of the matter is auditions will never seem fair to everyone.  With so many students auditioning and a limited number of roles, decisions are always extremely difficult for those casting the show. 

There are three ways that one can react to disappointment.
  • One way is to give up and never try again.
  • The second way is to say to yourself, “This is something that I really want, and I’m going to work on my skills so that the next time I audition, I will have a better chance of landing a part.”
  • The third response could be to say, “Acting and singing aren’t really my thing. I don’t have a driving desire to be on stage, but I would like to be involved in another aspect of the show.”
How one reacts to disappointment is a tremendous test of character. Although disappointment is painful, it can bring about a new understanding of goals and what the Lord has in store for you. When disappointment comes your way, whether it is in auditioning or in another area of your life, take a deep breath, open your eyes, and then see what wonderful doors the Lord will open for you.

Cutting

Unfortunately, we are sometimes unable to cast every student who auditions for a show.  The process is called cutting.  We trim the cast to a size that fits the stage, fits the script, fits the number of available costumes, and fits the aesthetic of a particular show. 

Cutting is painful for an artistic team, but it’s especially difficult for the student who doesn’t see their name on a cast list.  If your student is cut, the role was simply not right for them this time.  Cutting is not the end of the line.  If CYT is offering a show in another area, the student may try again with a new show and a new team. 

We do our best to help every student and their family navigate the highs and lows of casting.   We also offer other opportunities such as working on an age appropriate committee, building sets, painting sets, learning tech, etc.