BY Meghan Vogt
Start’s fall musical this year is everyone’s favorite Little Shop of Horrors. News of this being the musical was made public August 8th, but rumors of this production being an option began at the end of the spring play, MASH. This left all summer for prospective cast members to prepare for their all-important auditions. An entire summer of reviewing music and practicing characterization, however, cannot prepare students for the disappointment of unfair circumstances.
The cast for this musical is extremely small: three male principles and four female principles, but over forty audition packets had been handed out. The added competition made those auditioning quite worried. After the audition workshop on September 3rd, a group of half a dozen seniors stood together sharing their worries. These seniors were among the most loyal to past productions. Loyal meaning they showed up to over ninety percent of daily rehearsals, learned their lines quickly, were strong performers who other cast members looked up to and were often complemented due to this impressive behavior. Nancy Ludden, the drama director, approached this group of students and assured them, “don’t worry” once she had heard their concerns of not being casted. This relieved the seniors slightly because they trusted Mrs. Ludden to make the right decisions when it came to casting the show.
In the days following the audition workshop, several students, who were planning to audition for the musical in less than a week, became sick with sore throats. Voices were lost and spirits were low. Musical auditions consist of one thing: singing. The seniors who had fallen ill were afraid they may not even get a part in their last musical. They’ve been in past productions, though, so the casting team knows that they can sing even if their sore throats keep the notes from coming out perfectly… Right?
Auditions came Wednesday and Thursday. Many students decided to audition on Thursday to give their sick voices another day to hopefully improve. Twelve to 16 students, nearly equally split into seniors and underclassmen, stayed for call backs. Not very many students had been asked to read for leads, though, and the handful that did read for principle parts did not consist of but a few seniors. They were beginning to get very anxious. The cast list was posted on Mrs. Ludden’s door Friday morning before school.
The list was outrageous. Out of the 11 singing roles casted, only five of them were seniors. The group of seniors who were told not to worry about getting parts were heart broken. Only two of them had gotten roles. The remaining four were thrown into the ensemble. The casting choices had become the topic of conversation in every single class period.
Loyal seniors not getting leads was not the sole reason behind the anger that arose in so many drama members. Let me explain some of the others. Two girls who would definitely not fit the definition of loyal or reliable regarding theater productions were given the biggest parts. The first girl had one of the worst attendance records during the spring production, and the other quit the last musical. Also, according to the casting team everyone was “so good,” but reliable seniors were still outed by underclassmen. The most betrayal was felt by those seniors who were just a week ago assured by their beloved and trusted director not to worry about the casting. From that moment on, though they still stressed on the outside about auditioning, a part inside them was set at ease by those few words. Deep inside them they knew everything was going to be okay.
Things were not okay.
These seniors knew that a couple underclassmen really deserved to be casted and had a very good chance of being principles, but they didn’t imagine that small singing roles that were only a dozen bars long would be handed to freshmen and newcomers over them. Good singers and confident performers had been over looked and now would not get a part in their senior musical. Perhaps one of the most upsetting aspects of the casting decision was that of the lead. Several seniors were told by a casting team member that they did not want the previous male lead to be the male lead again in this production for various reasons. However, his name sat atop the cast list as the lead as if his shaky past performances had not been taken into consideration this time around.
In my four years of being in drama, through six productions, the cast listing for this show has definitely been the most emotional. When the first rehearsal comes, I can imagine the air being thick with tension, but only for the first day. Fortunately, the drama club is the most unified club in the school, so the tension will not last for long. I assure you that, though this club is dramatic, the ill feelings never last more than a weekend, and the cast always comes together to make the show spectacular.