Search on for 'Annie!' cast - Auditions set for Sept 15 at St Andrew High
In Hollywood or on Broadway in the United States, aspiring thespians ought to find themselves attending as many open-call auditions as possible until they land their role of a lifetime. Though Jamaica is not awash with such opportunities, they do arise every now and again. Next month, children and young adults between nine and 21 years old will be invited to audition for the Jamaica Junior Theatre's (JJT) next production, Annie!.
"Every year, JJT has musicals. Last year, we had Beauty and the Beast, and the year before that, The Wiz. It's always an open call every year," said Kodi Brown, chairman of JJT. "People reaudition every year, but we're always on the lookout for new talent. We have repeat cast members sometimes, but we're looking for new people. We're trying to be more active with campaigning."
"Boys and girls will be accepted for the play. People may think because it's Annie!, it's only girls, but we're also accepting boys," the chairman clarified.
Over the past few years, JJT has been utilising social media to get the word out. Brown said that using these platforms has garnered some interest, but suggests that more can be done. One recurring report from the troupe's recruiting efforts is that interested persons rely on word of mouth and usually end up hearing about the audition too late.
Auditions will be held on September 15 at the St Andrew High School for Girls, Cecelio Avenue, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. "That works out for us. People in school will hear from their friends," Brown told The Gleaner. Those auditioning will need to carry one passport-sized photograph, a registration fee of $100, an audition item (a song of choice - accompaniment is allowed) and suitable attire for movement and dance.
Rehearsals for the production customarily commence one or two weeks after the auditions are complete and continue into December. Curtains will open on the production in January 2019.
The most recent JJT production, a revival of Beauty and the Beast, was significant in two ways. First, the familiarity with the project (making its way to the stage for a third time) allowed the administrative team to focus on internal restructuring. Also, the production was accomplished with the first participants of the Jamaica Junior Theatre Apprenticeship Programme.
"We want to train the next generation. We really want it to blossom and show the wider community that these are skilled jobs. Some members have gone off to be a part of production companies. We had a lighting designer who now works for Disney," Danielle Stiebel-Johnson, chairperson of the Jamaica Musical Theatre Company (JMTC), told The Gleaner.
The programme began in September 2017 and is supported by local theatre stalwarts such as Seretse Small and Deanne Allgrove (music), Robin Baston (props and set design), and Greg Thames (make-up) as mentors, ensuring that junior members gain skills both on and off stage.
The programme is funded in part by the JMTC and a grant from the C.B. Facey Foundation.