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Do Looks Play a Role?

rockstar2berockstar2be Registered User Posts: 4 New Member
edited August 2010 in NYU/Steinhardt MT
I'm just wondering if looks play any kind of role in the audition process of just about any theater/musical theater college program. By looks, I mean height, weight, ethnicity, general facial structure. Do they play a role? For example, say four guys audition for the program, but somehow there is only one spot available, three of them have blond hair and blue eyes and the fourth is more darker featured (Italian, Spanish, w/e). If they have already decided on a bunch of kids with the description of blond hair and blue eyes, would they want some diversity in the looks of the applicants and instead choose the darker featured applicant for the sake of diversity in casting roles at that program? Would they want people different from whom they already have?
Post edited by rockstar2be on

Replies to: Do Looks Play a Role?

  • Senior0991Senior0991 Registered User Posts: 2,380 Senior Member
    I'd assume so, especially for something as important as theatre.
  • rockstar2berockstar2be Registered User Posts: 4 New Member
    umm...any more people who have anything to say? BTW, is the audition for females more competitive? Do they accept the same number of girls as they do guys? Do more girls audition than guys?
  • classicalbkclassicalbk Registered User Posts: 767 Member
    My understanding is that schools are casting a company, with the upcoming four years of performances in mind. That said, they need people to play certain roles, and the students that are accepted would be those suited for the roles. So yes, height, hair color (it's as if wigs don't exist, for some reason), soft face (warm, romantic), angular face (strong, no nonsense), voice type, etc all play into it. That's why a rejection doesn't always mean you aren't talented; it could be that the school has plenty of 5'4" blond sops just now and really wants a tall, redheaded belter. Or something.
  • rockstar2berockstar2be Registered User Posts: 4 New Member
    Yeah, that's what I thought it would be, thanks guys/girls. So would that give some one with more unique looks at some sort of advantage? I'm 5'10'', thin, soft featured, aquiline nose, very dark featured, almost middle eastern looking, but mostly Italian looking. Or does that just make me another dark featured auditionee? Btw, I'm a dude. This is truly helping people!
  • snapdragonflysnapdragonfly Registered User Posts: 646 Member
    I'm not the expert that many of the other posters here are - but from what I have gathered, it's a crap shoot. It's timing and luck. I would think that unless that particular theater program likes to put on shows that exclusively feature one particular physical type, that of course they are going to want a variety of types. You can't cast a show with all ingenues. There's, what, usually one or maybe just a few ingenues in a play, isn't that right? The other parts will be character parts, or antagonists, or other types, and if every actor in their stable projects the same kind of character, and looks pretty much the same, I can't imagine it would produce the most desirable group from which to be able to cast a wide range of shows.

    I would assume that they won't have the same range of every imaginable age and background to choose from that a professional Hollywood or Broadway would not only want, but would have, as compared to a university theater program. (age especially - I mean how many plays do you know of in which all the characters are under 30, and yet what percentage of students in top drama programs are middle aged?)

    But I would assume they are going to want as broad of a range as they can get. They are going to want some who could conceivably play more mature, or more evil, or more innocent, or more comical, or more beautiful/handsome, or possibly with the proper makeup, even more repulsive.

    So I'm thinking if they've got three Brad Pitts and in walks another Brad Pitt and an Antonio Banderas, that the fourth Brad Pitt just didn't have the luck of the draw that day.

    This is the impression I get from the conversations I have seen on the topic.

    ~My daughter is concerned because it was just announced her high school is doing Hairspray this year. Her school's theater program is very small and many of the parts in this play are race specific, and some parts are size specific also. Plus the whole gender thing. There are a couple roles that we don't really have anyone that fits it perfectly - so either we will be lucky and one of our theater freshmen will be right, or, someone who isn't in theatre will see the audition notice and say to themselves "hey, I would totally fit that part," or, we will have to cast with what we have and ask the audience to just suspend disbelief, as the note below asks.

    I went to MTI's site and read this.

    Dear Audience Members,

    When we, the creators of HAIRSPRAY, first started licensing the show to high-schools and community theatres, we were asked by some about using make-up in order for non-African Americans to portray the black characters in the show.

    Although we comprehend that not every community around the globe has the perfectly balanced make-up (pardon the pun) of ethnicity to cast HAIRSPRAY as written, we had to, of course, forbid any use of the coloring of anyone's face (even if done respectfully and subtly) for it is still, at the end of the day, a form of blackface, which is a chapter in the story of race in America that our show is obviously against.

    Yet, we also realized, to deny an actor the chance to play a role due to the color of his or her skin would be its own form of racism, albeit a "politically correct" one.

    And so, if the production of HAIRSPRAY you are about to see tonight features folks whose skin color doesn�t match the characters (not unlike how Edna has been traditionally played by a man), we ask that you use the timeless theatrical concept of "suspension of disbelief" and allow yourself to witness the story and not the racial background (or gender) of the actors. Our show is, after all, about not judging books by their covers! If the direction and the actors are good (and they had better be!) you will still get the message loud and clear. And hopefully have a great time receiving it!


    I think that in their wisdom, this is the best advice and route for a high school production.

    But I would think that a college program would prefer, if at all possible, to cast more closely to the way a professional show would be cast, rather than the way that necessity dictates casting a high school show. I think that a college program is going to still have some of that element to contend with: but a public non performing arts high school has to cast with whoever walks in, and an auditioned only college program can, after all, cherry pick who is in their program to assure they have a degree of diversity. Most of the schools I have looked at do have open auditions for the rest of the school for their big musicals, so if perhaps they do not have anyone in their department of a specific type, they can hope they get someone who isn't a theater major to audition. But they are going to want to know that their theatre majors offer them at least some variety for casting, I would certainly think, and that's what I've heard.


    That's my inexperienced opinion, if it's of any help at all. I do know that the one thing you want to do is present yourself as the best yourself you can possibly be, and not as someone else - my advice would be to polish up your skills, be ready to kill with your songs and monologues and sparkle, and just hope that you have luck that day, because this profession has a huge component of luck, and you have no control over that part.

    It's subjective and there's no way to know if they will love you or not so much. Some will no doubt like you more than others. You are what you are: don't waste much energy fretting about what you can't change.
  • WannaBeInNewYorkWannaBeInNewYork Registered User Posts: 2 New Member
    so i didnt read anything above. However one of my friends is at a colledge in New York. Before they even auditioned for a certain play they all had to line up in a line and they cut people out based on their looks. The people who were cut didnt even get a chance to show the directors their audition. Some people were to short, to tall to fat to skinny ect. I dont think hair color and eye color matter as much because of extensions dye and the colored contacts. So yes looks really do matter for theater, but most of the time you can not help it it is just genetics. Guys have an easier time, because their are less guys than girls in theater, therefore less people to choose from. So if the director has a specific look in mind he might just narrow it down to the two people he likes and then pick the one with more tallent.
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