Auditions for 'Jack and the Beanstalk' panto Sunday and Monday


October 10, 2019

Montana Actor’s Theatre is holding auditions Sunday and Monday for this year’s continuation for its tradition of is producing a Christmas panto.

This year’s production based on the fairy tale “Jack and the Beanstalk.”

The auditions are from 6 to 8 p.m. each night in the Little Theatre in Cowan Hall on the Montana State University-Northern campus.

Jack and the Beanstalk will be directed by MAT’s Artistic Director Grant Olson.

Olson said he is looking for a 12-person cast as of right now because, although the script is not fully written, he has characters he is looking for.

“What I am looking for is people to come in and have fun, play with it and try new things and be experimental,” he said.

People think that if they don’t get the audition right the first time MAT won’t cast them, but that is not what they are looking for at at all, he said. They are looking for the willingness to try new things and to surprise them, for surprises can be the best thing.

He added that if someone comes to audition and does a big character and they like it and that if there wasn’t a place for them, they might just cast them and make a role for them.

“We don’t make people memorize things for our shows, it’s a more come in and sometimes we do cold readings, but for this one we are going to do a workshop style,” he said. “We will give scenarios and let people build great big characters and say this is the scene we are doing and letting them improvise through, so there is no real right answer which is good.”

He added that MAT’s production team almost never asks people to do monologues.

The audition style Olson uses is a cold read, he said.

A cold read is where someone comes in to read from different bits of the script, which are made available. The person can pick a scene to do with another person, and they can pick who to do it with, he said.

In doing a cold read, Olson said, it gives the production team a chance to see what they are looking for and the opportunity to see how the potential actors handle taking direction.

“Our big thing is that we want as many new people as possible to come in,” he said. “We also almost rarely precast a show and I think that is one misconception that I would like to clear up.”

He said sometimes there will be actors the team has in mind for certain characters. For example, he said he knew when doing “Sweeney Todd” that he was doing it with Angela and Casey Pratt in the lead roles, so he said he let everyone else know up front those character roles weren’t available.

He added that he doesn’t have a cast list in mind for Jack and the Beanstalk.

“We are just looking to be inspired to what people bring,” Olson said.

He said he has the plot from the original Covent Garden production of “Jack in the Beanstalk” from 1885, though with MAT’s production will be modernized.

The production will premiere Friday, Dec. 6, and run for three weekends.


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