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Casting FAQ

For our Jellybeans, Workshop, and Lab programs

We understand that casting can be both exciting and nerve-wracking. Every theater approaches this process differently, so we hope the FAQs below will give you some insight into how things work at Random Farms.

Q: Why don’t you “mix it up” a little when you’re casting? You know, give every kid a chance at a lead after they’ve done a few shows?

A: We understand why this would be desired - it’s hard to have done a whole bunch of shows and not be rewarded with a promotion in the roles you’re getting. A system like this, however, would be logistically almost impossible at Random Farms. It would also be unfair. Click to find out why… >>>

In each group, we often have half the cast returning for a second, third, or tenth show with us.  If we base the casting on seniority, how do we decide whose turn it is for the lead when there are many more returning kids than there are lead parts?  It would become a complex mathematical tracking system where, instead of the leads being played by the kids who earned those roles based on their audition, they would be played by kids whose “turn” it was.

This would be unfair to the many kids who would be demoted simply because they had done fewer shows, even though their skills should have earned them a certain part. It’s a system that rewards children whose parents can pay for (and / or make themselves available to drive their children to) the most shows, and leaves those children whose parents don’t have those resources without a fighting chance.

Q: Do the same kids always get the leads?

A: Sometimes. But it’s a bit of an illusion. Click to learn why… >>>

Because we are looking at skills, you will sometimes see certain children getting roles with a similar amount of responsibility (whether that’s two leads in a row or two ensemble parts in a row). Until we see a change in skills, or until the competitiveness of the group changes, or until the kinds of roles change based on the show title, it would not be surprising that some of the children have a trajectory that stays on the same latitude line, so to speak.

Keep in mind that the role your child receives will vary depending on what group they’re in. For example, when we are casting the Wizard of Oz, we may have only one student in group A who is comfortable doing the evil laugh for the Wicked Witch. In group B, we might have three students who can do it. So in group A, if you can do the witch laugh, you’re a shoe in for the part! In group B, since there was more competition, that same student might not end up as the Wicked Witch.

This is important because, with all those different casts of kids, some will have children performing a lead who you just saw performing a lead in the last show. But other casts will have children who just played a lead who are no longer the lead – only you’re probably not seeing all 9 casts (!) of “The Wizard of Oz,” so you’ll never see that. Therefore, seeing some kids in your child’s cast who are in a similar role to last time is kind of an illusion. It’s a small part of a much bigger picture.

Q: Is my child auditioning for a specific role based on the monologue they chose?

A: No. Click to see why… >>>

Many children receive a role they didn’t read for. Our directors are trained to focus on the skills a student demonstrates when performing a monologue. For example, in the show “The Wizard of Oz,” we may hear a student read for the Tinman but, based on the student’s ability to project, their physically grounded stance, their focus, and their articulation, we know they’d do a great job as The Wizard – even if we don’t hear them do a Wizard monologue.

Q: Is it necessary to do a role placement coaching if you want to be considered for a lead?

A: Nope. Click to find out how it works... >>>

Role placement coaching requests originated from parents whose children were too nervous to audition (especially our youngest Jellybeans or kids new to the program) and/or parents who felt ill-equipped to help their child prepare. They grew in popularity and we now have kids participate simply because they want to work on their audition skills.

We have kids who will get cast in lead roles who will not do a coaching and kids who do the coaching who will not get a lead. These 15-minute mini sessions are designed to get nerves out, to provide feedback from a professional director, and to help your child feel prepared with the material. It is not a requirement, just a resource that is available to everyone. Financial assistance is available to those with need (email for assistance).

We encourage all the kids to work on the audition material. Some will feel comfortable doing this on their own at home, others will have a parent or friend help, others will work with a voice coach or teacher at school (and some will not prepare at all!). The coachings we offer are only one of many ways to prepare.

Q: Why do I have to pay for the role placement coaching? I already paid a lot of money for this program!

A: We get it - you did! Click to learn why there is an additional fee and how to apply for financial aid... >>>

Crazily enough, your tuition (if you chose the subsidized rate) only covered about 60% of the cost of putting your child through the program.  Doing fully produced live theater is expensive.  We hope, once you see the show, you will be as proud of the quality as we are.

As a non-profit, we are not in a position to offer all our services for free.  We already have about half a dozen free programs.  Asking the directors to work privately with several hundred children on each show is something they need to be compensated for, as it’s outside of their regular rehearsal schedule.

That being said, we want to make sure all children have access to this resource.  Financial assistance to those in need is always available.

Q: Will my 3rd-5th grader have a better shot at a lead if they sign up for a 3rd-5th grade group, as opposed to a 3rd-8th grade group?

A: Not really. Click to find out how it works... >>>

Casting is based on the skills demonstrated in the audition room. We’ve had groups of very skilled younger kids and groups of inexperienced older kids. It really depends who signs up and that is always changing season to season and group to group. We recommend you choose a group based on which schedule is best for you and what your child would enjoy most in terms of the social dynamic.

Q: My child is one of the youngest in their group - can they still be considered for a lead?

A: Absolutely. Click to find out why... >>>

Casting is not based on age or what your child looks like. It’s true that sometimes an older child has acquired more skills. But we also have older students join us and they are either new to theater or their skills haven’t developed as much yet. At the end of the day, it’s not about age or size or even how many shows you’ve done with us.

We are more concerned with a child’s appropriateness for a role: Can they hit the notes required for the solo? Can they find the humor needed for a comedic role? Are they speaking loudly enough for us to hear them as the villain? Check out our program philosophies for more on this.

Q: I am so confused why my child was cast in the role chosen for them. What should I do?

A: We recognize that casting is subjective. You can email your Senior Director for feedback on your child’s role placement. Click for details... >>>

We are happy to provide candid insight into how your child did with the various elements of the audition and things they can work on going forward. Please give your Senior Director a few weeks to get this info to you as we often have many requests and the directors really take their time with each one.

Please also trust us that, regardless of role, your child will perform in multiple production numbers, with multiple lines and solos. Check out our program philosophies for more on this.

Q: Can I find out how my child did at their role placement? I am not concerned with their role but I’d love to find out how to help them improve.

A: Definitely. Click for details... >>>

We are happy to provide candid insight into how your child did with the various elements of the audition and things they can work on going forward. Please email your Senior Director and give them a few weeks to get this info to you as we often have many requests and the directors really take their time with each one.

Q: My child has been working so hard, and has done multiple shows, but the role they just received is the same size as last time! What happened?

A: Your child’s role is not necessarily a reflection on the progress they have made. Click for more on this... >>>

Your child may very well have improved, but they might be in a more competitive group this time. Or perhaps their nerves got the best of them in the audition. Or maybe there weren’t as many roles in this particular show that were the right fit for them (ex: Their acting and confidence improved but the roles with more responsibility also required use of the head voice and your child wasn’t able to switch out of a belt.)

This works in reverse, too! Your child might not have made any developmental leaps, but they find themselves in a lead for the first time. Perhaps their group was less competitive, or your child really nailed the comedy for a particular role that might not have been available in previous shows.

If you’d like to check in on your child’s progress, you can email your Senior Director (please allow a few weeks for a response). You may also see or hear the changes in your child – and this can be on or off the stage! Is it easier for them to present in class at school? Were they projecting more in the performance? Are they matching pitch better when they sing? Are they more comfortable / poised when saying their lines? Are they taking risks in their acting choices?

Your child may also feel proud of the work they did to prepare, and the progress they felt. It’s important to celebrate that, even if they / you were disappointed in the role.

We’d also like to throw this out there – working hard, regardless of how visible the rewards are, is valuable. We have students who never got a lead at Random Farms who are now working on Broadway. The skills you acquire in our programs will serve your child, no matter the path they decide to take in life.

Q: I just looked at the script and it doesn't seem like my child has that much to do. What's going on?

A: Don't worry! Your child will be involved in so much more than is initially apparent from the script. Click for details... >>>

Your child’s individual lines and solos are only the beginning of their theatrical journey in the production. They will have blocking to learn, choreography to work on, vocal lines to master, props to manage, not to mention all the work they do together as a group in the multiple musical numbers we make sure everyone is in.

There may be times where we choose a role for your child that has a less recognizable name, or even fewer lines, because we need your child to take on responsibilities in other ways. One example of this may be a track that requires the performer to be the first out on stage, leading other children behind them. Or perhaps we need a performer who can belt some really tricky high notes at the end of a song. Or maybe we need someone who has the versatility to play two very different parts.

Our directing team spends a great deal of time choosing each child’s role, as well as creating moments in the show for them to be featured. There’s so much that goes into the show while we are bringing the words on the page to life.

Q: My child has done a TON of shows but I'm not seeing a progression in the roles they're getting. What's up with that?

A: It might be time to amp up your child's training. Click to learn more... >>>

Let us first acknowledge how frustrating it can be to invest a lot of time and money in an activity and not see the forward momentum you are used to. Theater is tricky because, unlike many sports and educational programs, your child’s individual progress may not be reflected in the role they receive.

If your child were running track, building strength and endurance would lead to a faster time in a race. In theater, you can participate in many shows, improve your skill-set, and then end up in a group that’s more competitive and actually get cast in a role with less responsibility than you had a year ago.

Since you can’t control who else auditions, or the title of the show (and thus the kinds of roles available), the one thing you can focus on is honing your skills. For some students, this happens exclusively in the Random Farms production environment. Other students need or want to dive deeper by supplementing their training.

Private voice lessons are an excellent way to improve vocal technique, acting, and stage presence all at once. Other layers to add are acting coaching, group classes (think improv, dance, acting technique, etc), joining a choir, and participating in school or community productions. At Random Farms, we offer private lessons and group classes, plus our Conservatory program. We also encourage you to look outside Random Farms to diversify your training.