Shop Talk: Casting with Carey Cannon part 2

Posted February 8, 2022

Apprentice Group Shot Website

We're back with the second installment of Associate Artistic Director Carey Cannon's casting update, including the return of some APT favorites, and which talented young actors from our 2019 Apprentice Company (pictured above) are back in big roles.

APT: Let's talk a little bit about this season. Where are we with the shows?
Carey Cannon: So we have a company that was invited to be with us in 2020, and we have committed to extending offers to as many people as possible from our 2020 season, to move into 2022. We weren't able to that in every case, but in most cases we were.

When we cast for 2020, we had some different plays programmed, including Rough Crossing and A Phoenix Too Frequent, which we staged last year instead. And because we’ll be in rep again this season, and the actors all work on 2 – 3 plays, we’ll be using the same company for entirely different plays than we’d originally planned. For example, in the place of The Madwoman of Chaillot, which was planned for our 2020 season, we have A Raisin in the Sun. Those plays have entirely different casting needs.

So it is been a unique challenge. Rep casting is always a challenge, but this one has been particularly complicated. But we’re fortunate that Jake Penner is on our team now, Brenda has been doing this forever. Evelyn Matten is on our team. So we have a robust group of humans with very different skills who are going at this question. We have still some big casting in play. Some of those actors we'd hoped in the shows that are returning, are coming around again from 2020. Love's Labour's Lost, for example, two artists that we had playing pivotal roles in that play are not able to be with us because it's two years later and they have another baby, and he's got a big job in Pittsburgh. So there's still lots to do.

And I'm excited that the Apprentice Program is back! We have hired three extraordinary young, early career artists who have said yes, and so we're going to have at least three new apprentices with us. That feels great because part of what we're most excited about is what's next, and the kind of the level of focus and interest that the community has to bring apprentices along to see who's got legs with us. So, that's really cool.

APT: Where are you in terms of where you would usually be at this point before a season?
Carey: We're a bit behind, but we will get where we need to go. Typically, at this point we are fully cast, apprentices are cast and Evelyn and I are working on the understudy casting. So we are a good two weeks out, three weeks out maybe, because there's some very specific casting at the top that I'm still searching for. We're looking for a young actor who plays 10 to 11 years old to be in A Raisin in the Sun. So looking for an African American, young, male-identifying actor to play up the Hill in a real role. I don't know how long it's going to take me to find that actor, but I don't need that actor to be here until July, so I may be casting well into May. I hope not, because that is a pivotal piece of the storytelling to have the youngest member of the Younger family.

APT: Can you break any news about who will be back this year, who’s not a member of the core acting company?
Carey: Yes! Jamal James, Alys Dickerson, Chiké Johnson. Gina Daniels has signed on to come and be in A Raisin in the Sun as well, and she has all these Broadway credits; she could take her talents anywhere. And she's like, "Yes, APT and this story – I'm coming." And Greta Oglesby will be back with us. With the Greta piece, it feels a little like the opposite of The Field of Dreams story. It's like, she will come, so we will build it. She's just extraordinary. I recently had an actor say to me, "I can't believe that you've got these stars of the American stage up the Hill."

So I'm really excited about that group. They're so good. And Phoebe González, who's going to be in The Rivals, directed by Aaron Posner. Her first season with us was in a show that Aaron directed. She has grown and grown and grown with our audience. And Laura Rook, who is just a joy, a delight, and such a gifted actor, who our audience has gotten connected to. She is a wonderful member of the community, and is growing in her interest in assistant directing. She worked with us on A Doll's House in 2019. So she'll be working with Brenda, assistant directing Love’s Labour’s Lost, and also playing a role in it.

And Jeb Burris is going to be back with us in a comedic role in the second half, as well as being a fight choreographer. Jeb is uniquely able to do both these things. So we're filling out our ability to make the most of everybody's gifts, and growing our relationship with these audience favorites.

APT: Can you talk a bit about the former apprentices who’ll be back with us this season?
Carey: We’ve got a big group of Journeyists – actors who are with us as Apprentices in 2019, many of whom have worked with us in during our COVID plans. Rasell Holt, Jennifer Vosters and Samantha Newcomb are back playing big roles in our season. Typically a Journeyist comes back, and they're growing in into medium size roles. But this season Samantha is out there as Maryanne in Sense and Sensibility. Jennifer Vosters is going to be playing really interesting roles in Hamlet and one of the women in Love’s Labour’s Lost. Rasell is playing the central role in The Brothers Size and a role in A Raisin in the Sun. And we have a segment of our audience who really loves the apprentices, who I think will be really excited about what's next for those folks.

APT: Thanks so much, Carey! Is there anything you’d like to add? Anything you'd like the audience to know about anything?
Carey: APT has a long hiring process, so we spend a lot of time talking to actors and designers and directors about coming here. And one of the things that our actors say again and again, and they say this to each other, and I say to actors we’re hoping to hire, is: APT has the best audience in the country. That our audience's interest in the stories, their willingness to get rained on with us, to get bit by the bugs with us, to sweat with us, to freeze with us, and to show up for these stories. The way they've shown up through the COVID season – the number of people who came here, and clicked on our links to watch our stories. That kind of support, it makes all of us cry when we stop and think about it. The audience is one of the key things that makes APT what it is. The acute interest, support and loyalty of our audience. That they will always come along and trust that we're going to tell them a beautiful story. And this season is going to be extraordinary.