Aside from raw talent, casting is based on many factors, including: acting technique, vocal range and strength, physical type, scheduling availability, and sometimes, that indefinable quality that makes a person uniquely perfect for a role. For some roles that might be “vulnerability” and for others that might be “brashness” or something else. Some roles may require special skills: roller-skating, gymnastics, the ability to play an instrument, etc. In a musical, all lead members of the creative team (Director, Musical Director and Choreographer) must ensure that the specific technical requirements for each role are met. Dance skills and singing ability are carefully scrutinized along with all other factors. There is no formula to guarantee that an actor will get the specific role that s/he hopes for. However, dependability and work ethic are huge factors; so those with a proven track record on-stage or behind-the-scenes can expect that to be taken into consideration. All of these variables add up to create a successful production. Regarding casting and production, we adhere to standard procedures in the field. Those who work on their craft will see positive outcomes. Paying tuition to attend classes is not a guarantee of being cast in a particular role.

Hilo has a wealth of performance opportunities throughout the year, both within and outside of the university. This abundance of theatrical projects available to a finite pool of talent can potentially breed complacency among performers: the “big fish in a small pond” syndrome. Fierce competition is the norm in performing arts professions. Casting is a tough business wherever one goes. It is our goal to prepare our students for that reality. It would do them a disservice to allow them to expect preference because of grade level, major, or any other factor. While we strive to give students a variety of opportunities for involvement in productions, they are expected to compete alongside anyone else who auditions for our productions; and they are highly encouraged to seek out a variety of performance opportunities both on and off campus.

The University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo has always maintained an “Open Casting” policy for its productions. We do this for many reasons:

  • We serve all students at UH Hilo: those seeking a major, minor, or certificate in Performing Arts, as well as those from other disciplines who simply take a class or get involved in a production now and then. Involving students from all majors in our productions fulfills UH Hilo’s commitment to providing a variety of educational and extracurricular opportunities to all of our students. Our productions also help to keep our program in the consciousness of the university as a whole.
  • Our program serves as a gateway between community & university through our theatrical productions. We strive to keep all members of our community engaged and invested in the activities at UH Hilo.
  • Many of our community members are UH Hilo alumni, and involvement in our productions provides a way for them to remain connected to their alma mater. This also helps to cast a wider net in attracting audiences to our productions.
  • Occasionally a course may be tied to a particular production. If that is the case, community members are still welcome to audition if their time & schedules align with the class.
  • There is much for our students to learn from more experienced performers within our community; and community members enjoy the vivacity of working alongside our students.
  • Our program is (and always has been) small, so we would not be able to cast most of our productions without the eager and willing support of our community members working symbiotically with our students.
  • If there are any pre-cast roles (as has occasionally been the case over the years), this will be announced ahead of time in audition notices.