Why Am I Not the Lead?
"Why am I not the lead?"
"How can I get a bigger part?" "When will I get a head mic?"
"Why is 'so and so' the lead and I'm not, is she better than me?"
These are just some of the questions I get asked every week by students and parents. We know everyone wants to be Ariel, Cruella, or Elsa, that's why TCARiverside chose it for their first blog post! Here's how you can work towards getting that role you or your child have been dreaming about.
Musical theatre is, of course, about performing but it is so much more than that! Auditioning, learning, and performing a musical develops many useful skills that children and adults can use in their everyday life. But that's not why you're reading this, you want to know how to get that starring role you've been after, right? Well, let's talk about that...
The Tweedlie Center operates under a ten week musical theater course with a performance at the end. In just ten hours of rehearsal, we put up a full scale musical that in a community theater setting would take months to audition, rehearse and perform; therefore, casting leaders as leads is of the utmost importance to the success of our shows. With that said, the information below applies to any theater you may be a part of now or in the future.
Students that get cast in a lead or supporting lead role are more often than not leaders in the classroom. They have shown that they can learn their lines quickly and correctly, they don't follow the teacher for the choreography, they know all the lyrics to the songs, and they help others whenever they can. They are self starters and don't interrupt the teacher with questions that don't pertain to what's going on in the classroom. They look for ways to help those around them, whether that be keeping their classmates quiet or helping them get on stage for the next song.
Often times, TCA will cast a student in a smaller part to see how they handle it:
First of all, how do they respond to the smaller part?
Are they angry? Do they act upset or annoyed with their part?
Second, once they're cast, how quickly do they learn their smaller speaking part?
If you can't learn a small speaking part in a timely manner, how can you learn a part with over 20 speaking lines and solos?
Third, once they learn their part, how are they performing in the group numbers?
Do they know the choreography or are they looking around to remember the moves?
Fourth, what's their behavior like backstage?
Do they know when they enter and exit and what side of the stage they do it on? Do they know what song is next? Leads are responsible for knowing ALL their own blocking (where they go on stage).
Fifth, are they looking for other ways to shine without speaking?
If the teacher says to act excited, are they doing that? Are they going above and beyond when they're on stage without being distracting, how about off stage?
Sixth, what's their behavior like in the classroom?
Are they always talking backstage or are they leading by example? Do they ask smart and thoughtful questions? Are they disruptive?
These are just some of the things we look for when we are casting. Sometimes a student will blow us away in the audition and then we cast them as a lead and they don't live up to their potential; this is the reason we have started moving the auditions later in the schedule. Having auditions later, allow us to get to know the students better and have an idea of how they would handle a larger role.
Most importantly, it's not always about talent... Talent is great but a prepared and reliable student is better. TCA is looking to cast LEADERS in the LEAD ROLES. So, the biggest advice we can give you is be a leader; don't be bossy, come prepared to class, know your stuff. Don't ask for a bigger part, show us you deserve one.