Welcome to The Play Group Theatre

Welcome to

Mainstage

Building character on stage and off.

Audition for the PGT Mainstage this season, and discover the PGT one-of-a-kind immersive theatre experience! Our unique artistic and educational philosophy pervades rehearsals, allowing an intensive yet collaborative and joyous spirit to flourish among students and staff. From musicals to the classics to cutting edge contemporary plays, the mainstage program offers comprehensive actor training, provided by a dynamic and nurturing professional staff.

About   |   Days/Times   |   Calendar   |   Tuition

Enroll

MainStage

In our beautiful 228 seat MainStage Theatre, we produce 6-7 shows a year, in three distinct seasons. From Shakespeare to big musicals and everything in between, our season provides our students - and audiences - with a wide variety of theatrical experiences, all with PGT's trademark quality sets, costumes, lights....and, above all, performances.

When you audition for the PGT MainStage, you begin a journey in which you will:

  • Be part of a CREATIVE LEARNING COMMUNITY. Our students grow - physically and artistically! - from season to season….indeed from rehearsal to rehearsal. In the MainStage program, you will be immersed in PGT’s unique artistic and educational philosophy, in which all of the joys and challenges of being a young artist are brought center stage.
  • COLLABORATE with a group of exceptional and enthusiastic young artists. At PGT, a true collaborative spirit flourishes. Our emphasis is on allowing each individual voice to be heard by creating a strong group dynamic. Life-long friendships are made at PGT.
  • Have your creative process guided by dedicated TEACHERS and MENTORS. Our staff is made up of artists and educators who understand the balance of creating a challenging yet nurturing environment in which each student can flourish. At PGT, we know that students will only gain the benefits ascribed to arts education by participating in an authentic arts experience - while maintaining all its rich complexity, everything is infused with the joy and fun that kids bring to the theatre!

Balancing the rigors of school work with their rehearsal schedule, young actors choose the MainStage program because they are looking for a full arts experience, and a community of fellow artists with which to share it.

Join us on the MainStage this season!

.
 

Days/Times

Fall 2018 rehearsals begin mid to late September. Spring 2019 rehearsals begin mid to late February.
Understanding the PGT MainStage Schedule >>

Audition Dates

Fall 2018 auditions begin September 5. Spring 2019 auditions begin January 30.

Why we will never double cast

It is a typical youth theatre trick: double, triple, even quadruple casting. And what could be better – you get not one, but four chances to get cast as Belle! And of course, that’s the reasoning behind it - the immediate and quick gratification of casting happiness. But casting happiness (and its reverse, casting disappointment) is fleeting, a super temporary state of being, and what remains is the artistic and educational experience….which is exactly what suffers under the double casting model.

Remember carbon paper? Remember what the copy looked like? You simply can’t make two (or three, or four) of something out of one simultaneous process and expect quality. And you certainly can’t make four of something as unique and different as an artistic experience and expect quality.

Here’s why we will never double cast at PGT:

  • Double, triple or quadruple casting breeds unhealthy comparisons and a competitive spirit among young artists who should be encouraging the development of one another’s unique creative voices.
  • Working on the same show with multiple casts simultaneously lends itself to a shallow, result-oriented process.
  • Casting multiple actors in certain roles but not others (typically, leads get double cast, while the ensemble remains constant) sends the message that only certain roles are important and worthy of being double cast, while others are not – and by extension the message is sent that only certain actors matter and others do not. That is a dangerous message to send, not only to those who believe they do not matter, but also to those who believe they matter more.

At PGT, instead of double casting and artificially creating four of the same lead role, we teach our students to approach every single role like a lead role, and we treat every single actor like a lead actor. To us, they are. We don’t need four Belles, we need one Belle and one Lady with Cane and one Chip and one Hat Seller and one Mrs. Potts and one Angry Villager. And each one is equally responsible for the success of our show.

I know that right now you are thinking: That’s fine, but I still want to be Belle. And I get that. So let’s step back and look past that knee-jerk response for a moment. After all, I hope that your goals for being part of a theatre company are bigger than any one show or any one part. I hope that you want to learn and grow and be part of a creative community that’s grounded in ideals that reach past casting happiness.

We produced Beauty and the Beast several years ago. One of our young actors, a girl who has an impressive PGT resume to say the least, could have easily been Mrs. Potts #3 or Belle #2 or Wardrobe #4 under the double casting model. In our production, she was Lady With Cane, a stipulated ensemble role in the script. Throughout the process, she did such incredible character work and made such fun and interesting choices, that I kept adding extra bits for Lady With Cane! Ultimately, each scene featured Lady With Cane and she became central to the storytelling in our version of Beauty and the Beast. The audience loved her - they all left the theatre talking about her! - and to this day we all call Beauty and the Beast, “Lady With Cane, The Musical.” She was totally and completely unforgettable.

This young actor made her role important – and so it was. Not because the playwright said it was, not because the world said it was….because she decided it was. It is our mission to give our young actors the tools to make their performance stand out regardless of their role, regardless of the number of lines they have to say.

Why be a carbon copy of Belle, when you can be Lady With Cane – and turn her into the part of your dreams.

To me, that is the much greater artistic - and life - lesson.

  • Jill Abusch, Artistic Director

Audition Information

Students enrolling in PGT Mainstage audition each season. The audition is our opportunity to meet new students and to see how our returning students have grown.

For New Students

We do not expect young actors who are approaching the theatre for the first time to have a professional audition prepared, and we are happy to help guide new students through the process so that they find it less intimidating. We are always happy to meet new young actors who want to give theatre a try and hope that they will not let the audition process scare them away!

For Returning Students

As our students spend time at PGT, and hone their craft, we hope to see more and more sophisticated work from them at their auditions. We hope to see them enter the audition room with increasing confidence, having chosen appropriate audition material and executing it with the skills they have learned in their PGT classes and rehearsals.

For All Students

We are looking for students with enthusiasm and an interest in the collaborative artistic process. At the audition, potential students will let us know whether they have the focus, maturity, creativity and spirit that is needed for PGT MainStage. If, following the audition, we do not believe you will be successful on our MainStage, we may recommend another PGT program or refund any tuition payments you have made.

For the audition, young actors are expected to present a brief monologue and a song (each being 1-2 minutes in length). Students, particularly returning students, are expected to be fully prepared for their audition; audition material should be well rehearsed and committed to memory. Check our audition material page for possible monologues and ideas on where to find monologue collection books. You can also find a helpful list of audition “Do’s and Don’ts” on our audition tips page. If you have questions about preparing your audition, please email Jill at jill@playgroup.org or Rachel at rachel@playgroup.org.

What to Bring

Actors should bring to their audition

  • sheet music for their song (in the right key), so the musical director can accompany them on the piano.
  • a current photo of themselves
  • filled out MainStage paperwork, which you will receive upon registration

PGT Mainstage auditions take place in September for the Fall season, and late January or early February for the Spring season. To register for PGT MainStage, please complete the registration form including audition day/time preferences and fax or mail it in. Registered students will be contacted with their scheduled audition appointment information.

Understanding the Mainstage Schedule... in 5 Easy Steps

1. When we receive your registration form, we email you some paperwork, including the Conflict Form. You fill in all of your child’s activities - soccer, dance class, etc. as well as weekends away, etc. Basically, your family calendar for the entire season.

2. We produce 2-4 shows on the MainStage each season - each show has its own rehearsal schedule of 2 evenings per week and occasional Sundays. And each show has its own performance dates. When our actors audition for us, they are auditioning for the entire season – meaning, they are being considered for all MainStage shows that season. During casting, we look at the complete pool of actors and cast each child in one show, based on the auditions, as well as the restrictions of each child’s schedule (i.e. If one show is performing on May 15, and your child will be at a wedding on May 15, he can’t be in that particular show, in which case, he gets cast in one of the other shows.)

3. Once the shows are cast, we create a set rehearsal schedule for each show ( i.e. Mon/Wed, Tues/Thurs, Mon/Thurs, etc.) based on the conflicts of the kids in the cast, as well as staff schedules and the overall PGT calendar. We do all we can to work around the conflicts of every child - and it works well, most of the time! When we call you with casting, we also tell you the show’s rehearsal days and performance dates.

4. Then, each director creates a monthly rehearsal schedule which calls kids out for rehearsals only when they are needed. This schedule details exactly what scenes/songs we are working on each evening and who is needed. So, while the show rehearses twice a week, your child won't necessarily be called to every rehearsal, or to the full night of each rehearsal. We plan each rehearsal down to the hour - sometimes even half hour! - so that the time commitment is manageable for the kids - and parents! Our actors do not spend a lot of time sitting around the theatre while other kids are rehearsing. When they are here, they are busy. When they aren’t going to be busy, they aren't scheduled to be here. These schedules are sent each month, so you have plenty of time to plan ahead and make carpool arrangements, etc.

5. The final week before opening is tech week. We have a long Sunday rehearsal and then rehearse every evening that week, Mon-Thurs. Every actor is called to those rehearsals. It is intense and tiring, but exciting and wonderful, as we add lights, orchestra, costumes, etc. and, with spending so much time together, the most amazing bonds of friendship are formed among the actors.

Announcing Shows

See it in action: video >>

There is a longstanding PGT tradition of announcing show titles at callbacks. It sounds crazy, right? That means you're auditioning for shows.....and you don't even know what the shows are! It SOUNDS crazy, but PGT students and staff agree that it is a really great tradition... for so many artistic, educational, and fun community-building reasons.

When you arrive for your audition, you will be auditioning for the season - much like a rep company. You are signing on to be part of a theatrical experience and to be part of a company of actors who will be cast in one of several shows that we produce each season.

Meanwhile, the PGT staff heads into the season with a list of shows that we are considering for production. As we watch auditions, we narrow down the exciting list of shows that we are thinking about, ultimately choosing those that we believe will best feature our young actors, while also challenging them in new and exciting ways. Our goal is always to be artistically and educationally mindful of where our students are, collectively and individually, in their creative journey, and then do all we can to meet them there… and propel them forward. Show selection is a huge part of that process.

Since we are choosing our shows to fit our actors, rather than trying to squeeze the actors who happen to register into pre-selected shows, we end up with the right shows, for the right actors...each and every season. Because we aren't locked into a pre-announced show title, we are able to adjust our show selection for age, gender, and skill set of the full group of actors we are working with each season. Not enough dancing boys? Take West Side Story off the list. No sopranos this season? Secret Garden has to go. Save them for another time.

At the same time, we are able to feature and challenge our students in new ways each season, never resigning them to what they already do well. So "non-singers" get parts in musicals all the time, and thus become better singers. And great singers will get cast in a Shakespeare play, and through that experience learn the skills of text analysis.

The right show will build on the skill set our young actors already possess, while providing opportunities to expand their abilities. In other words, we are always pushing our students to work on the edge of their skill set.

Which is why we don't announce a show first and meet the kids second. The kids come first.... they are at the center of our process.

One really great byproduct of this tradition has been that the kids remain open to shows, playwrights and composers they don't already know and they get excited to be in shows they haven't considered before. So we are expanding their theatrical repertoire, and their ideas of themselves as artists. They might not show up for an audition for Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson if we announce it in advance....but ask a cast member about that show. Life changing!

And another super fun Kid-First-Show-Second outcome: the moment when we announce our shows! Instead of reading it on the website alone in their rooms and then texting about it, our students are all together, in person, as a community. And you can see for yourself the excitement in the room: video >>

So....check back in on the big show announcement at call-backs!!! I promise, you won't be disappointed. In the meantime, to get a sense of the kind of wide-ranging plays and musicals PGT has been known to produce in the past, take a look at the gallery of our past productions!

  • Jill Abusch, Artistic Director

Go ahead! Give a click. You've earned it . . .