Approximately how many kids try out for the cast and crew?
Typically, 70 to 115 students audition for cast, with another 10—20 auditioning for crew. Most productions require a cast of 25—35 and a crew of 10—15 depending on the demands of each particular show.
Is there a fee to audition or participate in an Encore Stage & Studio production?
No, Encore does not charge any audition or casting fees. All are welcome and encouraged to audition and participate!
Do I need to have acting or backstage experience in order to be selected for the cast or crew?
No! We welcome students of all experience levels to audition, and strive for a good balance of experienced and new students when making our cast and crew selections. Encore is a theatre company, but we’re also a place where we hope students will make friends and learn new skills, so we like to work with students who are friendly, kind, and engaged as well as talented or experienced. However, students who have more experience, have better stage presence, are more likely to be cast. Acting takes practice. This is one reason why Encore Stage & Studio offers classes and summer camps. These are great ways to learn about acting and gain experience for the next audition.
How do auditions work?
We know that auditions can be nerve-wracking, so we strive to make ours as stress-free as possible. Students may choose to attend either day of auditions, and may arrive at any time during the audition period. Auditions are held on the lower level of Thomas Jefferson in the performing arts wing of the middle school.
When you arrive, you’ll complete an audition form to tell us about yourself and any theatre experience you have. (You can also fill this out at home ahead of time and bring it with you.) Once you hand in your form, you’ll be assigned a number and have your photo taken. Students are called into the audition room in number order, typically in groups of five—ten students at a time. You’ll introduce yourself to the auditors (people watching the audition), and then be asked to perform a short, improvised scene, which you’ll make up on the spot with the other actors in your group. If there is time, you may also be asked to play a theatre game.
The auditors for each audition are key people involved with the show, like the Director, Artistic Director, Stage Manager, and sometimes the Producer or Technical Director. All of them have been through this audition process many times before, and all of them want you to succeed.
When you perform your scene, try not to be nervous! The auditors are watching to see how well you can pretend, as well as how easily you cooperate with and listen to the other actors. They will also observe how well they can hear, see, and understand you. Once you leave the room, your audition is over, and you can head home for the evening.
No preparation is necessary for Encore auditions, but if you’re interested in getting more comfortable with our audition process, Encore offers a number of pre-audition workshops throughout the year.
What is a callback?
After the initial two-day audition period, some students will be asked to return for a separate evening of auditions called a “callback.” Between 30 and 50 students are asked to attend the callback. Students called back will need to remain at the session for the full two hours. During that time, students will be asked to perform additional improvised scenes, to play theatre games, and to sing or dance if the show is a musical. (For musicals, the music director and choreographer will teach students any songs or dances they will be asked to perform.)
Who decides which children are selected for the cast and crew?
The Director of each play and the Artistic Director decide who is cast in each production. The Technical Director and the Artistic Director make the selections for the backstage crew.
When will I know whether I’ve been selected for cast or crew?
Encore will post a list of selected students online on our auditions page
by Sunday evening following the callback session. If your name isn’t on the list, we hope you’ll come back to audition for an upcoming show later in the season!
Why wasn't my child cast?
As any professional actor will tell you, casting is a complex process. Here is some insight into the casting process at Encore:
1. Talent is a factor, but we also look at other qualities, including a student’s ability to listen and follow directions, to work as part of a team, and to interact appropriately with peers, adults, and younger students. Basic acting skills like projection are also important, as we want to be able to hear all of our actors when they’re onstage.
2. Conflicts can factor into our decisions. We have a limited amount of time to put together a great show. If you aren’t able to attend rehearsals, the quality of the show and the quality of your experience may suffer, and we consider that when making our selections.
3. We look for a balance of actors and crew members, both in terms of age and experience. Our auditions are open to students ages 9—18 for cast and 12—18 for crew, and we select children throughout that spectrum. We look for teens who can mentor younger students, and we also aim to build up skills in younger students so that they can become mentors once they’re older.
When we cast actors and crew members, we also hope to create a balance of experience in each group. This means that we cast some students who are very familiar with working with Encore, some who have acting or technical experience elsewhere, and some who are brand new to theatre. We’ve found that this blend makes for a successful rehearsal process and show, as the students are all able to learn from each other.
If you aren’t cast in a show, we encourage you to keep trying, and to bear in mind that our decision not to cast you may be dependent on factors outside your control. We look forward to seeing you at the next audition!
What is a typical rehearsal schedule for an Encore production?
Our typical rehearsal schedule includes rehearsals two days a week over the course of 6 or 7 weeks. Rehearsals usually occur on Tuesdays from 5—7pm and Fridays from 6—10pm. Once we reach Tech Week—the week before the show opens—the cast and crew rehearse every night for approximately four hours each evening in order to fully incorporate all of the scenery, costumes, sound, lighting, and make-up.
A tentative rehearsal schedule is posted online a few weeks before each audition, and is also available at the audition so that you can write down any conflicts when you hand in your forms.
Is it possible for actors or crew members to miss rehearsals?
With enough advance notice, missing a rehearsal is occasionally possible. When you audition, we ask that you bring a complete list of conflicts with you. Conflicts are sometimes a determining factor in our casting decisions, so it is vital that your list be as accurate as possible. A play or musical is an ensemble effort, so when one person is missing from rehearsal, everyone feels their absence. In order to give each student the most rewarding experience possible, Encore does not make use of understudies, so the presence of each member of the cast and crew is critical.
When conflicts are submitted in advance, our production staff does their best to allow those conflicts. No Tech Week rehearsals or performances may be missed except for in cases of serious emergency.
What are the time demands of crew members during rehearsals and performances?
The schedule for the crew is different than the schedule for actors. After auditions, crew will attend one rehearsal to meet each other and begin to get familiar with the show. They will then meet again to get the scene shop ready for set building. During the set building period, crew members are invited to spend time in the scene shop helping with the construction of the set. Crew then attends the final rehearsal before Tech Week, all Tech Week rehearsals, and all performances. During Tech and performances, crew members are very busy as they learn their jobs and coordinate lighting, sound, and set cues. Crew members are trained to use professional-quality sound and light boards, and learn their jobs under the supervision of talented professionals.
How are summer shows different from school year shows?
Encore runs five fully-staged productions each year—four during the school year and one during the summer. School year shows are open to actors ages 9—18, while summer shows are open to actors ages 15—adults. During the school year, rehearsal occurs twice a week; during the summer, the cast typically rehearses five days a week. Summer shows are typically musicals, and tend to be more artistically or thematically challenging than school year shows. Recent summer shows have includedOnce Upon a Mattress, The Pirates of Penzance, and Legally Blonde: The Musical.