Mainstage

Frequently Asked Questions

 

Every Child is a Star

At MYART, we believe strongly in the concept of inclusiveness. Everyone who registers for a mainstage show and participates in the scheduled rehearsals is a star in our way of thinking. Because of this, all participants who meet these criteria are assured a place in our ensemble. This is the most important part of the MYART experience.

Casting is accomplished in such a way as to give every participant an equal opportunity to shine. Lead roles, which feature spoken lines and/or solo singing, are multi-cast, with several people sharing the role. This provides opportunities for more of our cast to participate as leads. This casting is accomplished by means of an open audition process which normally begins in the third or fourth week of rehearsals. Anyone registered in the ensemble who has paid their registration fee or established a payment plan may audition.

How do I register my child for a mainstage show?

There are always opportunities to register your child for an upcoming show, either online or in person. Each performance is listed within this site, and there is access to an online registration page where you can fill out the necessary information and make a payment. 

You can also register your child in person during what we call “Open Registration”. This is usually a period of three weeks during which we introduce children to the show material, play games, get to know one another, and begin the grouping process.

For parents new to MYART, these in-person registration weeks can seem a bit hectic. Typically a lot will be going on. Costume construction may have started. Students being registered and their siblings will be playing nearby. Rehearsals will be under way. Things can get a bit noisy. A lot of parents will be present. Many of them are experienced MYART parents who will be happy to share their knowledge. Others will be new to MYART as well.

Rehearsals start immediately. If you have not filled out registration paperwork, your child may attend rehearsal while you do so.

You should bring a pen, find the registration desk and be prepared to fill out the forms listed below. Once you have finished filling out registration forms, you may observe rehearsal. The first three rehearsals are open to parents. Rehearsals are closed beginning the fourth rehearsal. Once rehearsals have closed, parents may no longer observe.

Forms you will receive with registration:

  • Welcome
  • The MYART program
  • Registration
  • Emergency
  • Photo release
  • Shirt order
  • Payment plan
  • Scholarship application
  • Fundraising
  • Friend referrals
  • Photo and video policy
  • Actor participation guidelines
  • Rules and goals
  • New participant guide
  • The audition process
  • The role of parental volunteers

Is my child required to audition to be in a Mainstage show?

No. Lead auditions are not a requirement for mainstage shows if your child wants to perform in the ensemble. 

What does the audition process involve?

First Steps: Audition Homework

Audition homework involves taking some time to learn about the character. It may involve writing notional diary entries, drawing pictures, or other exercises that involve imagining yourself as the character. This time-honored show business practice is a very important first step toward presenting a convincing characterization. 

Completed homework must be handed in by the time of auditions. Homework materials will be available during ensemble rehearsals.

The Audition Prep: Not Mandatory, But Highly Recommended

Audition prep sessions are held about a week before auditions, usually on a weeknight. The director, choreographer and music director may all be in attendance. Auditioners are given a chance to become familiar with the portions of the script and songs they will perform during auditions.

Generally, some insights are provided as to what will be “looked for” during auditions. While it may be possible for some experienced candidates to be cast without attending Audition Prep, the chances of a successful outcome are always bettered by the extra preparation.

The Audition: Familiarity Breeds Success

When evaluating auditions, two very important qualities to the overall impression left by the candidate are:

  • The familiarity and the corresponding ease in delivering song, dance and dialogue.
  • The level of energy and enthusiasm that go along with it.

Callbacks: When More Information is Needed

Sometimes the director or staff needs more information upon which to base their casting decisions. When this happens, they often “call back” several of the candidates to a second audition.

It is quite possible to be cast in a role without being called back. Often the director is able to cast an auditioner after having seen them only once. Likewise, being called back does not guarantee that the auditioner will be cast.

The callback list will be emailed to the auditioners. Cast members without internet access will receive a telephone call.

Posting of Results: The Waiting Game

When the casting process is complete the cast list is posted under the show’s downloadable documents page online to the auditioners and posted at rehearsal at a time determined by the director. Cast members without internet access will receive a telephone call.

Much excitement and a few tears are usually generated at this point. It is important for parents to be supportive and to reinforce our credo, that every cast member is a star and that lead roles would not exist without the hard work and perserverance of the entire ensemble cast.

Challenging Casting Decisions: If At First They Don’t Succeed…

Those not cast in a lead role can ask the director if they may “challenge” for the role. If the role is not yet full and if the director believes challenging may be beneficial to the auditioner, she will grant permission.

Challengers must attend all pertinent lead rehearsals and learn all the dialogue, blocking and choreography for the role, just as if they had been cast. Challengers will audition again on a date set by the director. If the director believes the challenger has successfully mastered the role she may cast them. The director will tell the challenger of her decision immediately.

This process teaches the importance of determination and perseverance.

What should we expect on the first day of rehearsal?

Rehearsals are organized and taught by both professional and volunteer staff. Throughout the rehearsal process students receive instruction in all areas of theater craft and are evaluated on their development as individuals and as ensemble members.

Each student’s growth in the program is largely determined by their willingness to challenge themselves. As they gain experience they are assigned more responsibilities within the company. Alumni students are encouraged to act as peer advisors and role models for younger and/or newer students. Students who show an interest in pursuing a theatrical career, whether in an acting or in a technical capacity, are encouraged to expand their knowledge and experience.

Song, Dance, Acting & Games

Often, but not always, the first rehearsal is spent playing theater games. The purpose of the games is to teach teamwork, inspire creativity and for the students to get to know one another. After theater games have finished, rehearsal moves to song, dance and acting. The focus of rehearsals from then on will remain song, dance and acting.

For new students, the songs and dances can seem like a lot of information to learn. However, in time students become accustomed to learning them and the process gets easier.

How will my child be grouped?

Initial Groups

For the first two or three rehearsals students are grouped by grade level. Typically they divide along the following grades:

  • K through 3rd
  • 4th through 6th
  • 7th and up

Grouping Day

On the last day of open rehearsals the students are re-grouped into smaller groups. The number of groups depends on the size of the cast and the particular needs of the show.

To re-group the students, the director has them perform, a few students at a time, a dance number taught during previous rehearsals. Using the individual students size, age, ability to perform the dance and the needs of the show, the director will begin grouping the students. Often students will perform the dance material more than once and may be moved from group to group.
At the end of rehearsal on grouping day students receive a rehearsal schedule or other piece of paper with the name of their group on it.

The groups the student is placed into are named by the director. Occasionally the director will pick names related to the show. For example in Peter Pan the groups might be named “Sun, Moon, Stars” and so forth. In The Wizard of Oz the names might be “Lions, Tigers, Bears” and so on. However, usually the groups are simply named in alphabetical order from youngest to oldest. Traditionally MYART uses the following names:

  • Amber (the youngest students)
  • Burgundy
  • Cherry
  • Daisy
  • Emerald (the oldest students)

Mixing & Matching

Once grouping day is complete, the director, musical director and choreographer will begin teaching students material specific to their group. Each group is taught separate material. However, often the material is similar.

The purpose for this is evident once the full cast comes together toward the end of the rehearsal process. Only at that time can the vision of the staff be seen. For example, breaks in the material of one group which didn’t seem to have a purpose suddenly make sense when another group performs its related material.

What should my child bring to rehearsals?

Wear loose comfortable clothes and comfortable shoes that don’t restrict your movement.

Your script. Seems obvious, but some people don’t think they need their script. They’re wrong. You always need your script.

Pencils with erasers. Never write blocking or any other notes in pen. Everything will change, especially in the early stages of rehearsal. Things will change over and over again. Be prepared to take notes and to erase them. Notice that it’s pencils – plural. You’ll misplace your pencil, you’ll outright lose it, you’ll loan it to a friend who never returns it.

Highlighter. You’ll use it to highlight any lines you missed when you highlighted your script as well as any other important information you’re given.

Ideas and energy. You get out of rehearsals what you put into them.

Questions. Are there parts of the script you don’t understand? Were you unsure about what direction you should take? Keep a question list in your script.

An open mind. If you’ve done your homework you’ll have formed some strong viewpoints about your character and the show. These views might conflict with the views of the director or your other actors. Keep your mind open to everyone’s ideas. This is a team effort and your show will become a balance of what everyone brings to the table. 

What should my child should be focusing on during rehearsals?

A consistent challenge during rehearsals is keeping the noise level down. In a room full of dozens of children having fun it is easy for the noise level to quickly rise to the point the director must yell to be heard. At that time the director must quiet the cast. If the director must continually quiet the cast, rehearsal is less effective. 

It is very important for parents to communicate with their children the importance of being quiet and paying attention. Even whispered conversations become disruptive if there are enough of them.

Should my child be practicing at home?

It is important for students to practice the material they are taught during rehearsal at home. Rehearsals are a week apart. In the intervening week it is easy for a student to forget what they were taught.

If students spend just a few minutes each day reviewing the material the next rehearsal will be more effective. One of the biggest wastes of time during rehearsal is when the director has to re-teach material.

Does MYART supply a costume for my child?

MYART costumes are created both by individual cast members as well as rented from outside companies or from MYART. You will be expected to assemble some elements of a costume or multiple costumes, depending on the part.

Costume guidelines and other information are provided to the cast, usually within the first couple of weeks of rehearsal. This includes information about the styles of clothing for the period that the show is set in.

This information will either be provided directly in the costume handouts or it may be added to the downloadable documents page  for that specific show on the MYART website. Most of the time, guidance is provided for the different ensemble groups, with lead costumes having their own unique requirements.

The costume designer will select the basic color scheme for the show and often will specify certain colors to be worn only by certain lead characters. The designer may also assign different colors to different classes of characters within the ensemble (such as working-class and the wealthy). Specific types of hats, shoes or other articles of clothing may be called for.

In assembling a costume, most cast members rely upon several sources. Often items from closets at home can be used. Thrift stores, rummage sales and surplus stores may also yield appropriate items. Sometimes other cast members can be of help. In addition, making costume articles from scratch may be a good option for those who are so inclined.

Costuming may seem like a daunting responsibility at first, but it is just another opportunity to express your creativity and individual style. If you feel like you need some help, contact the show’s costume designer for encouragement and assistance.

Will the rehearsal schedule change?

Toward the end of the rehearsal process it is common for additional rehearsals to be scheduled. The purpose of these rehearsals is to bring the entire cast together and run the show. These are known as “run throughs” or “runs.”

During a run through, the director will find and fix problems that only become evident when the entire cast is together. Fixing such problems may require making changes to the material that a group has been taught. It is much easier for the student to handle last minute changes if they have a solid understanding of the material being changed. If the student has not adequately practiced what they are taught, dealing with changes can be difficult.

What is Tech Week?

This is an exciting and hectic week! Plan to devote a large portion of time to MYART during this week. Everyone is gearing up for opening, sets are loaded into the theatre, costumes are finalized and the students begin rehearsing on the actual stage.

There are rehearsals every night during the week and may go later in the evening than usual, especially on dress rehearsal nights. In addition, stage crew (including props, flyrails, spotlight operators and microphone people), line leaders, some chaperones dressers and make-up people must learn their jobs and cues this week.

Special training sessions will be scheduled during cast rehearsals. Remember, there are no absences during production week.

How should we prepare for Tech Week?

Prepare meals ahead so your child can eat at home or take dinner with them. Many times, MYART will organize meals for children during Tech Week for an additional cost to make it easier for families.

No food is allowed in the theater space during rehearsals or performances. Your child may eat outside in the front of the lobby, but please remind them to pick up all trash. We are guests at our performance facility, and we need to respect the space. Please feed your actors ahead of time whenever possible. Keep an emergency supply of healthy fruit, snacks, juice, etc. in your car.

Only water in a sealable bottle is allowed in the theater. We do sell water and other beverages, but sodas, etc. must remain outside the theater building.

Try to get your students to rest and eat between school and rehearsal/shows. Keep pillows, blankets, etc. in the car. This way your actor can start to sleep on the way home. Be prepared for late hours and “wired” performers. Let’s keep our actors as healthy as possible.

What is Gala Night?

Our official opening night is also a fundraiser for MYART. Actors arrive at the theatre entrance in special transportation (limousine, classic cars, etc.) and walk down the red carpet to the applause of parents and friends.

How should we prepare for show days and nights?

All performers should arrive at the theater in their first costume and in makeup. All other costumes, extra “touch up” make-up, homework, books, busywork, games (no small pieces), cards, etc., should be in a laundry basket with the student’s name on it and a list taped to the outside with all the things that should be in it. Please check this basket before you come to the theater each day and before you leave the theater each night. This will avoid any personal belongings being left at home or at the theater.

Please do not leave any valuables in your car. Although we do our best to ensure the safety of your car and belongings in the theater parking lot, we have had some challenges in the past. Be smart. Be safe.

Cast members must be responsible for their own belongings. Please do not bring valuables to the theatre. All personal items (costumes, games, shoes, etc.) need to be labeled with the child’s first and last name. We do not have replacement costumes for those that are lost or left at home.

Please review all of the rules of the theater. Remember that all staff members and backstage assistants (chaperones, stage crew, etc.) are to be treated with respect and listened to.

No peeking in the theater during rehearsals. Only the cast and authorized volunteers are allowed in the theater. Parents may wait in the lobby. If you just can’t stand to miss out on the action, sign up for the committees that are allowed in! You also need to know that during production week the show may not look like it is coming together. Don’t worry, it will!

No parents, friends, family members, etc. are allowed backstage before, during or after the performance unless they are scheduled to work that show. Please meet your performers in the lobby after the show. No performer is allowed to come to the lobby during intermission or during the performance.

No food, drinks (except water in sealed water bottles) candy, gum or juices are allowed in the theater or backstage.

MYART is not responsible for the performers before their scheduled call time, after the performance or between shows. Please plan and arrange rides, food and supervision accordingly.

Due to copyright laws, video and/or audio recording of nearly all MYART shows is strictly prohibited. Anyone caught recording in the theater will have their recording device confiscated and held at the box office until the show is over. Flash photography is not allowed anywhere in the theatre. This is for the safety of our actors.

Will my child be able to see my family in costume after the show?

A much revered tradition of theatre is when performers meet their audience after a performance. MYART encourages this tradition strongly. It’s a wonderful opportunity for performers to strengthen relationships with loved ones. 

Performers who wish to meet their audience while still wearing MYART provided costumes or pieces will be given 10 minutes in the auditorium after dismissal to do so. Performers wearing MYART provided costumes or costume pieces are required to return them prior to going outside the theater. Performers may not go outside of the theater while wearing MYART provided costumes or pieces. This policy is necessary to protect the large investment in time, effort, and resources MYART’s staff puts into building costumes. It also allows the costumers, who are volunteers, to join their own families within a reasonable period of time. Please be courteous and be sure to return all costumes and pieces to the costumers prior to going outside of the theater.