"Where did you find those kids?"
Charles and I are frequently asked that question after people see one of our shows. The short answer is - we get them from our acting classes. Once in a while a young person who we don't know will come into an audition and really impress us, but most of the child actors who you see in speaking or featured roles in our shows are also students in our acting classes.
We try to choose our main stage shows so that we can either add a young-person's chorus or we choose shows that have child roles already written in. This is on purpose, so that we can get young people on stage in front of audiences. There is no substitute for performance as a learning tool.
Our students compete for their roles, just like everyone else who auditions. They are in with the pool of auditioners who all want a role in a show. We regularly have 60 to 80 young people vying for roles and most of them are female.
Being a student of ours gives the auditioner both an advantage and a disadvantage.
We know them; that is an advantage. We know what level they are performing at, and what they are likely to be able to aspire to over the course of the rehearsal process. We know if they can get along with other people and if they are reliable. We know if they are team players.
We know them; that is a disadvantage. We know what they can do and if they do not bring their best effort to the audition then we know it. The expectation for our students is higher than for others auditioning. We know if there are personality issues or diva-like behaviours. We know if they or their support team (normally parents) are unreliable, or difficult. We know if they are not team players.
There are many talented young people auditioning that we would love to work with, and we try hard to find ways to bring them into our shows, normally in smaller or chorus roles so that we can get to know them better, and see what the possibilities are for the future.
Where did we find those kids? They found us, and we held the door open for them.