Cast List Blues: Do's and Don'ts to Make it to Opening Night by Catherine Carter

So you weren’t cast in the role you wanted, eh? You feel like a complete failure and are contemplating the idea of quitting theater forever... okay, hopefully you’re not at that point, but I can assure you that you are not alone. Your favorite actors were all cut or missed out on roles they wanted. They survived – and so will you!  Here are some do's and don’ts for how to handle the heartbreak. 

DO reflect. Instead of instantly turning into a green-with-envy monster, take some time to soul search. Don’t downplay it – you’re hurt and that’s okay. Directors know people will be hurt, but handle it in a healthy manner. Take a bath, eat some ice cream, cry, (drink, if you’re legal), then remind yourself of your successes and who you are as a person. Remember why you wanted to audition and why you love theater. Realize there are other talented actors and they’re getting their chance. Think of all the positive aspects of being part of this production – then wipe off the dirt and stand tall.  

DON’T be a diva. Period. This means don’t freak out on your castmates and friends, don’t write immature vague-book statuses – and don’t quit the show. As good as it may feel to let out your rage in this manner, it’ll definitely get back to the director and you’ll quickly be labeled as a negative source of energy in the production. Your air for the dramatics will not be appreciated by anyone involved and will most likely impact future casting decisions. See that bridge? Consider it burned.  

DO ask for feedback. 99% of the time, directors love to provide feedback on your audition and how the casting decisions were made. And 98% of the time, you’ll walk away feeling much better about yourself and your audition. Be mature and don’t fight the decision, but take the opportunity to show the director you’re a serious actor and are looking to learn and improve. Also remember that director is not the end all, be all; just because they didn’t love your voice doesn’t mean another won’t.

DON’T overlook the experience. So maybe you weren’t cast as the lead, but honestly, supporting characters and ensemble members tend to have more fun. Fewer lines = less stress. Ensemble members have the chance to create an unwritten character that could be more fun than following directions in the script. Show the production team that you can have fun and be professional without the spotlight shining directly on you.

DO support the show. Be on time to rehearsals and don’t skip out on optional nights. Show up to set builds and costume shop hours. Learn a new skill, whether it be set painting or light focusing. Be supportive of your cast mates and offer to lend a hand wherever you can. Sell ads and show up for publicity stunts. Be the most dedicated cast member you can be. I can tell you from personal experience that I did the bare minimum in a role that I wasn’t thrilled with and I regret letting the show pass me by with the friendships, skills, and opportunities I let slip away. Don’t be that person – and have fun, because that’s why we do it!