Dear Auditioning Actors and Parents:
This letter will explain some of the history, auditioning, and casting policies and rules of the Children's Theatre of Winnetka.
History: Children's Theatre of Winnetka was founded at the Winnetka Community House in 1974, with the intent to provide an overall theater experience for the children of New Trier Township. Auditions are open to all New Trier Township children in grades 4-8. Our goals remain the same: 1) we teach all aspects of theater arts - producing, directing, acting, singing, dancing, lighting, sound, stage management, crewmanship, props, make-up, special effects, ushering and other disciplines which are needed to create a show; 2) we produce two shows a year that are aimed at appealing to young audiences; and 3) we work to maintain a high standard of professionalism. Since 1974, our shows have ranged from fairy tales to modern classics to Broadway musicals. Over the years our popularity has grown - both among the children who wish to be in our casts and on our crews and among the adults who seek to lend us their talents. Our adult board is an all-volunteer, working board.
Auditions: Auditions and callbacks are CLOSED which means all non-auditioning children and parents may not watch auditions. We have instituted this policy to provide your child with the privacy needed to be comfortable and the opportunity to be their creative best. Please feel free to wait for your child in the lobby area of the Community House or return home until your child calls for pick up when their audition is completed. Thank you for your cooperation in this matter.
Casting: Our philosophy has changed a bit from previous years to give opportunities to more children from one show to the next. We believe that every role within a show comes with it’s own unique responsibilities and opportunities to learn and grow. Because of this, a child may be cast in a leading role in one show and the ensemble in the next. This gives more children the chance to build their confidence, collaborate as a team, and hone their skills as a young artist. The success of a show deeply depends on the supportive community that is created within each cast.
We also believe it is important for every child to be called for every rehearsal. This allows families to maintain a consistent schedule and keeps all actors engaged throughout the entire process. Along with their regular rehearsal, cast members will have the opportunity to hone their skills through educational activities and games that will expand their singing, dancing, and acting technique. No matter their role, all of the children will have opportunities to learn about theatre arts in a fun, harmonious way.
The casting committee consists of the directors of the production, plus any other production staff that the directors wish to include. Normally, the choreographer and the vocal coach are included. At least one casting committee member must be a Board member. Casting is by consensus, with the Director having the final say in case there is no consensus. When there are co-directors, consensus must be reached. With the increased popularity of our productions, the number of children auditioning has risen enormously. It has been necessary for the Board to constantly review casting policies and to establish a casting philosophy. Rules of thumb have been established over the years, some of which are Board policy and some of which are common sense, to aid casting committees in cases where there are a great many talented children available:
The Director(s) have the freedom to choose those children that they deem most fit to play all acting roles.
Board members' children and children of non-board members who are working on the production will be called back as a matter of courtesy.
When, and only when, talent is equal, a Board member's child will be chosen over a non-Board member's child.
If more than one child from the same family audition for a show, there is no guarantee that all children will be cast.
The choreographer is the best judge of dancers.
The vocal coach is the best judge of singers.
The Director(s) is the best judge of actors.
A grading system will be used to break ties.
All children who try out are graded on acting, singing and dancing. In each case, grading is subjective. There is no scientific way to grade these talents. Directors may have pre-conceived ideas of how they want the characters to look, act and sound; therefore, it is entirely possible that a child with exceptional talent might be turned away because he or she does not fit the Director's concept. Frequently, children who are not cast in one production will win a part in the next one (based upon the different needs of that show.)
An important factor that enters into casting is a child's size. Every show has different size requirements and the Directors select their leading characters first and build their cast around them to create a believable cast. For example, a boy might be "born to play" the part of the father, but if he is no taller than the actor selected to play his son, he will not work out as that character. The audience would not believe him in the part. By the same token, Annie cannot be taller than Daddy Warbucks, and so on. Sometimes a child cannot be cast because of size, despite enormous talent. Other times children of lesser talent must be cast because of their size-appropriateness, in order to make the play believable to the audiences.
Our crew system is designed to allow those children who are not cast and those who are interested in developing backstage skills to be involved in its actual production. It would be very easy to use adults as crew, but we have chosen to use children for all crews and to teach backstage disciplines as well as onstage ones. We are proud of our crew system. We always have some children who do not wish to act but only to do crew and we make every attempt to give them their first choice of crews. Our goal in all productions is to give crew members as much responsibility as possible.
CTW is a non-profit, volunteer organization. Many on the production team donate their time for the love of Children's Theatre.
Scholarships are available for the production fee. To learn more, email firstname.lastname@example.org. All inquiries and scholarships are kept confidential.
We request that parents of cast members participate in some capacity during the show. There are a variety of opportunities that will fit both your interests and time constraints. A parent meeting will be called after casting is complete to describe these opportunities to you.
Thank you for taking the time to read this and thank you for your children!
THE BOARD OF THE CHILDREN'S THEATRE OF WINNETKA