The MainStage program offers PGT students a comprehensive actor training experience, providing an opportunity to work with a dynamic and nurturing professional staff, in a state of the art facility, among peers who are as committed to a sound creative process as they are to a magnificent finished product.
Summer Mainstage actors enjoy an ever changing roster of classes, including Acting, Musical Theatre, Dance, Yoga, Stage Combat, Shakespeare, Improv and more. The full six weeks allows a deeper exploration of the craft within these classes — and allows us to offer some unique classes that only our six-weekers take, such as sketch comedy, and some special one-time workshops.
The MainStage cast devotes three hours each day to rehearsal. Guided by their Director, Musical Director and Choreographer, the actors in the summer MainStage show are expected to approach each rehearsal as an opportunity to explore and experiment with the skills that they are learning in class, working towards nuanced and layered performances. A process-oriented environment pervades rehearsals, allowing a collaborative spirit to flourish among students and staff.
The Summer MainStage show will be staged in PGT’s 228 seat proscenium theatre. The MainStage show will be fully produced and designed, and, as with all PGT MainStage shows, chosen with an eye towards inspiring and challenging our students and audience. The MainStage title will be announced on the first day of camp.
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
Students enrolling in Mainstage, Teen Conservatory or Young Actors Ensemble are required to audition to participate in PGT Summer Theatre. For the audition, young actors are expected to present a brief monologue and a song (each being 1-2 minutes in length). 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 Rachael at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Actors should bring to their audition a current photo of themselves and sheet music for their song (in the right key), so the musical director can accompany them on the piano.
Mainstage auditions take place in June. Teen Conservatory and YAE auditions take place during the week before camp begins. To register for PGT Summer Theatre, please complete the summer registration form and fax or mail it in. Registered students will be contacted with their scheduled audition appointment information.
We are looking for students with enthusiasm and an interest in the collaborative artistic process.
There is no audition required for PGT Kids, Little Theatre and Improv Week.
Preparing Kids for Every Stage in Life SM
The Play Group Theatre Westchester's Theater for children and teens One North Broadway | White Plains, NY 10601 | Google Tour >> (914) 946-4433 | Fax: (914) 946-1336 | www.playgroup.org