Monday, 6 September 2010

The cast we need

All the cast need to be good comic actors first, preferably with some revue and comedy-play experience, or at least being able to work very directly with an audience. All to be good team players, but there’s also plenty of opportunity to score in solo numbers. Shakespeare knowledge not essential! Broadly speaking, you need to be able to at least
  • sing confidently enough to contribute at least the odd solo line in group numbers and join in confidently in choruses
  • move well enough to be able to take part in very simple choreographed routines (we’re talking less 42nd Street and more step-together-step-kick here) – and preferably be able to walk without putting forward the same arm as leg
  • have exceptionally good comic timing and delivery
These are the minimum requirements. Ideally, we need at least one person who can do a decent tap routine; one of each sex who could be called a good singer; and every performer must be able to place a comic line to perfection. A full tap routine in one number would be fantastic; a cast who can do perfect four-part harmony, magic; but don’t let it put you off auditioning if you don’t feel you match up to all these demands.

The original show had a cast of four (two girls, two men) but this is actually pretty tough – it’s a hard working show! It works very well with three of each sex (plus the pianist who does a couple of numbers from the piano and sticks in the odd line of dialogue here and there - Selwyn’s already bagged this one!). It's also possible that we may cast two men and four girls - given the unwritten law of amateur theatre that girls tend to outnumber men at any audition...

The four characters described below are the minimum; bear in mind, therefore, that the numbers performed by the two girls below will probably be split between three girls in reality, and likewise the men.

Girl A A reasonably straight classical high voice but some good jazz numbers, so needs to be able to let her hair down. A bit of convincing coloratura at the sharp end would be good, too, but doesn’t have to be Lesley Garrett; both Janie Dee and Louise Gold played this originally. Plays, for example, the Princess in a superb parody (almost word-for-word) of the French scene in Henry V (with Girl B as her maid Alice) – this is pure music hall / pantomime (“my side are better than your side…”)

Girl B Belter-comedienne, more spoken material than sung. Needs to be able to really point and time the show’s best selection of one-liners. Think Susie Blake or Julie Walters. Performs items like Which Witch, which was originally performed by Hermione Gingold.

Man A If it was a Carry On film this would be Jim Dale. Light voice, good comic timing; slightly camp manner might help? Kind of sneaky, comes near to stealing most of the ensemble numbers he’s in – as well as playing Just William.

Man B Marked contrast to A; heavy and bold, plays most of the Kings and outsize characters (including “Sir” from The Dresser). A real AC-TOR, laddie, and don’t you forget it! Donald Sinden type? Some superb sketches; for example, Othello with Desdemona’s mother, Lady Brabantio, played as Jack Worthing and Lady Bracknell.

We haven’t specified ages here. The original cast were probably somewhere in their late 30s or early 40s; but we could work with the right people, as long as they can move, sing and speak well, pretty well anywhere across the age spectrum. It would be equally good to have a cast who were all of similar age or a real mixture across the decades. We’ll see what we get at auditions!