Making the right casting call

Two Queen’s student musical directors talk about how they cast their respective shows

Castings for both Sweeney Todd and The Drowsy Chaperone happened during the first week of school this month.
Castings for both Sweeney Todd and The Drowsy Chaperone happened during the first week of school this month.

It takes more than singing and dancing to be in a musical.

Kelsey Jacobson, director for Blue Canoe Productions’ The Drowsy Chaperone said she always looks for people with a great attitude.

This is reflective in her audition process.

“What I like to do is have people sing their song a second or third time and letting them sing it in a different way by putting some acting into it,” Jacobson, ArtSci ’13, said. “I ask them to sing the song as if they were on a cooking show on TV and that lets people have more fun with it.”

Jacobson said The Drowsy Chaperone includes 22 production team members, 14 cast members and nine band members, two of which are high school students.

Blue Canoe Productions is known for mixing both community members and Queen’s students in their productions, even having all high school casts on occasion.

Chris Blackwell said when casting for Queen’s Musical Theatre’s (QMT) fall production of Sweeney Todd, he was looking for a strong emphasis on acting.

“We asked everyone coming in for an audition to prepare a song and a monologue,” Blackwell, the show’s director, said. “So for me as a director, I demanded a stronger emphasis on acting from my performers and the monologue is important in that way.”

Castings for the QMT fall production happened earlier this month from Sept. 11 to 14, with 20 auditions per night.

“We managed to fit in a few extra auditions, we had 100, if not more auditioners to what ended up being a cast of 15 people,” he said.

Blackwell, ArtSci ‘14, said a majority of the cast for Sweeney Todd is mainly from the drama and music departments, but QMT also has the ability to cast actors outside of Queen’s.

“That being said, we choose shows that we know Queen’s has the talent to put on.”

Drama student Rebecca Flynn who’s done over 25 auditions in her four years at Queen’s said she was involved in both Vogt studio series and Queen’s players last year.

Flynn, ArtSci ’13, said she tried out for both The Drowsy Chaperone and Sweeney Todd.

“I went into the Drowsy audition more relaxed; the production team was more relaxed and seemed to have more fun,” she said, adding that the Sweeney Todd auditions were a little different.

“It was more relaxed than I thought it would be, but there’s a certain level of intensity with QMT stuff — QMT has a sense of prestige,” she said.

Flynn said the fact that so many drama and music students, auditioned is a strange process because the community is so small at Queen’s.

“When you’re super involved in drama, you end up auditioning for your friends, but everyone’s in their professional element,” she said.

“You’re showing your best as a performer.”

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