Casting for Peter Pan Jr.

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March 7, 2014
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I'd like to do Peter Pan Jr, but I'm not sure it fits the peculiar business model of my current school. Here's the way the school's department is set up. The Production class (which kids audition to get into) play the leads, and they rehearse in class. A less advanced "JV" class plays one chorus, and rehearses in class. Then there are open auditions for another chorus, and they rehearse after school. For example, this year we did Willy Wonka Jr, and my Production class played all the speaking roles. The kids in the JV class were Oompa Loompas, and the open audition kids were the Kids Chorus. It is an expectation here that the JV class will have more stage time and more to do than the other chorus, so I gave them the Oompa Loompas which have four songs, as opposed to the Kids Chorus which has two. First question: Weird, right? I've never seen a school set up quite like this, and I'm having trouble finding shows that have two choruses, one of which is bigger and more important than the other. Second question: Will Peter Pan Jr. fit this business model? I worry that there are too many choruses (pirates, Lost Boys, indians, mermaids). Also, I worry that the choruses are too ingrained in the script to rehearse separately. Like, it was easy to rehearse the Oompa Loompas in a different class than my Wonka because the Oompa Loompa songs stand alone. But is it possible to have the pirates in a different class than my Captain Hook, or the Lost Boys in a different class than my Peter Pan? Third question: Are there other Junior shows that fit into this strange business model?
3 answers

March 21, 2014
I see that a lot of the roles can be double cast, such as Mr. Darling/Hook and Nana/Smee. I'm wondering what other roles can be double cast, but I don't know who shares scenes together. Can the fairies play the mermaids? I assume the indian chorus could easily come from outside the Production class, rehearse after school, and be incorporated during tech week. But what about the Lost Boys? Are their scenes easily "pulled out" and rehearsed separately from the cast, or is that not possible?

VIP Answer
March 8, 2014
I agree with Richard.....a challenging scheduling situation. Hoping you might have some input to adapt a schedule that is more user friendly to student artistry. Many times if you go in with a solution, and not just a challenge, the decision makers are more receptive. Our job is to create a situation where kids can learn and create. OK, I will take off the admin hat and get closer to your issue. Richard is right on that the LEGACY (classic) shows easily divide into larger rehearsal groups- Music Man JR, Guys & Dolls JR, Fiddler JR and also Dear Edwina (if you cast as such) and Schoolhouse Rock Live JR. These all are designed for large casts and can be transitioned well. The sung-through shows, Once on This Island JR, Seussical JR would be tough. Let us know how your decision progresses! Cindy

Staff Answer
March 7, 2014
Hi, C.R. -- That certainly does sound like a challenging situation! I can see how WILLY WONKA worked out ideally in this regard by allowing you to tier the cast into groups of leads, Oompa Loompas, and other chorus members. For PETER PAN JR, like you say, this might be more of a challenge since the various groups interact more frequently. You might be able to have a stage manager or script reader (or yourself) rehearse opposite whomever is currently in the rehearsal room as a stand-in. Before the performances, I'm assuming you'll have at least some rehearsal time together to put the elements together and smooth out the transitions. You could use that time to fit together your separate groups and make sure everything's running like clockwork. You might also be able to make a few other Junior shows work this way -- I think GUYS AND DOLLS JR might be a good one. It has lots of scene work and singing between the leads, but also a host of supporting characters (gamblers) to whom you could give featured time, and some ensemble numbers for the Mission Band and Hot Box Girls that you could have the larger group rehearse. FIDDLER ON THE ROOF JR might also function similarly -- with the main family character, named villagers, and chorus members. You'd have to take a closer look at these ones to make sure they'd suit your exact needs and that the interplay between the groups would work out the way you want it to in rehearsal, but these two come to mind. THE MUSIC MAN JR might also work in a similar way. I think the structure of some of these "classic" titles seems to lend itself more to your model -- where the cast breakdown is delineated more toward a "leads, supporting, chorus" structure. I hope any of these suggestions might be helpful. Best, Richard