ROCKINGHAM — Richmond Community Theatre is right in the middle of its six-show run of “It’s a Wonderful Life,” but director Shelly Walker isn’t letting that keep her from auditioning potential cast members for February’s performance of the Disney musical, “Beauty and the Beast.”
“The auditions are (Monday night)…and (Tuesday night) from 6:30-9:30,” she said. “And the cast of characters we’re looking for are Belle, Maurice, Gaston, Lefou, Monseiur D’Arque, Beast and the enchanted characters Cogsworth, Lumiere, Babette, Mrs. Potts, Madame de la Grande Bouche. And then, there’s a whole bunch of servants and townspeople, silly girls and cronies, and wolves.”
Walker said that if one person were cast for each part, there would be nearly 40 people in the play, but reading music notation isn’t a prerequisite.
“All of the people who are main characters need to be able to sing solos and harmony,” she explained. “And then the townspeople, as long as they can just sing something, we can work with that. The way the auditions are working is that we have songs picked out from the play, maybe eight to ten bars that we’re going to teach everybody. We’ll sing in a group first. One of the famous songs from this play is, ‘Be our guest.’ So everyone’s going to start out with that one, because the whole company is going to sing that eventually.”
She said after the group singing, actors interested in the starring roles will have an opportunity to learn a few bars from some of the solos they would have to sing, and they’d sing them alone as part of their auditions.
“Then, there’s some of the dialogue from the script that they’ll be reading,” Walker said.
The Monday and Tuesday night auditions are limited to adults and high school students, she added, citing there is only one part for a “youngster.”
“Chip, the cup,” Walker said. “We’re going to be auditioning young people who have been in the Young People’s Theatre Program already so we get someone who’s already got experience with us onstage. We’ll be doing those by invitation only.”
Walker encourages young children who are interested in acting and participating in main stage productions to get involved in the theatre’s Young People’s Theatre Program in the summer.
“That’s a great way to get your feet wet,” she explained. “You learn how to walk onstage and how to project before you’re up in front of a huge audience of people who you don’t know.”
She said that because the show will be nearly identical to Disney’s animated film — with the characters, singing and music — the entire first row of seats closest to the stage will be taken out to make room for an orchestra pit.
“We’re probably going to end up having two keyboards, maybe a bass player, a flute player, a drummer and maybe some auxiliary percussion,” Walker said. “And I think there’s also a piccolo player. We’ll have about between five and seven people sitting in the front playing the music live for the show.”
One thing she said she hopes will not be off-putting about the production is the unique way part of it must be financed.
“There is no way for us, financially, to pay for a musical with ticket sales alone,” Walker said. “The royalties by themselves are going to be about $3,000. And this show is a show of costumes, because we have all these enchanted characters that are going to be wearing these crazy, beautiful, wonderful costumes.
She added that cast members will also be asked to sign a commitment form — which includes not only working hard and being at the rehearsals, but also helping to solicit donations and ads for the program to pay for the costumes, which will run around $100 each.
“Beauty and the Beast” will show at 8 p.m. Feb. 9, 10, 11, 16, 17, and 18. There will be an additional 2 p.m. showing Feb. 18.
For information, call the box office at 910-997-3765.
Reach reporter Melonie McLaurin at 910-817-2673 and follow her on Twitter @meloniemclaurin.