This is my third year teaching a music theater class at the homeschool learning center, and I've never loved a class more than this one. The kids are like family -- or become like one-- and their talent amazes me more every year. We started with 13, then 18, and now 26, which tells me its working. One of the things I've committed to doing differently--which I think really DOES make a difference--is to try and abolish that two tier system of the "leads" and the "chorus". I went to a public school with a wonderful program, but could almost cast the show each year because there were a few that just had more talent than others, and the leads always went to the same ones. Although this is the reality out there in the big world, I doubt any of my kids will eventually move on to stardom on broadway, so I wanted a way to be sure that ALL the kids could get a shot.
Consequently, my casting is not always the "best" person, but one that I feel can DO the role - sometimes with ALOT of hard work. I also allow the kids to prioritize their choices, and really work to give them all one of their top five choices if I can. This year the play has 13 leads, and another 8-9 "feature" roles (eg dancer, etc.), and I think all but 5-6 got something in their top five, with TEN of them getting their first choice. Some might say I'm sacrificing quality in the leads, but I disagree. When I see the final production, I'm amazed at how much these kids have grown and how hard they have worked. I'm also overjoyed to see the growth that they undergo as they realize their inner potential nurtured by a lot of faith and trust. I have yet to regret a casting decision! The BIGGER joy is the sense of family that has been created; I let the kids know that I simply won't tolerate any gloating, critisizing, or the like, because I know first hand how quickly it can kill a theater program. Consequently, the sense of camaraderie is prevalent throughout......of all the jobs I teach, this is the one that feeds my soul (might kill a few brain cells, but the soul is satisfied!). Now I can relax and just settle down to block and help this year's group learn what they've got inside. In the end, my number one goal for the group is to recognize the talents God has given to each of them, and to give glory back in the final performance. (with a few prayers to Saint Cecelia along the way!)