Jake Slack as Zack
Jake Slack as Zack
©Tristram Kenton

Andrew Lloyd Webber and Julian Fellowes' musical adaptation of the hit film School of Rock has been rocking the New London Theatre since it opened last year. Now they're on the hunt for a new lot of kids to make up the band and open auditions will be held in Liverpool on 23 September and London on 20 and 22 November. Here casting director Jessica Ronane explains how to ace them.

On average, how many auditionees will you see every day?
I will see around 100 auditionees.

What are you looking for most in performers?
Different skills on instruments for the band, plus brilliant actors and singers for the non-band roles.

What strikes you first about someone when they walk in the room?
Their smile, energy and ability to listen to the team's instructions; their confidence on their instruments and their sense of fun with the other children in the room. We need everyone to work together to make the band and classmates feel as real as possible, like they have known each other for ages.

What is the best thing to wear?
Whatever you feel comfortable in, something you can move around easily in as there is some dancing. As well as being in something that makes you feel cool, so you can rock out!

What is the most common mistake you see auditionees make?
It's important to really know the film and story, to know what it is you are auditioning for.

What advice would you give to first-time auditionees?
Take a deep breath and try not to let nerves get in the way.

What advice would you give to parents of young auditionees?
Take away all the pressure and let them do what they do well. We are very good at spotting who is right so they can relax and enjoy the day!

If successful, how long will the kids star in the show?
They do a six month performance contract.

What challenges are involved in casting School of Rock?
The biggest challenge is finding children who play the instruments we need to a high standard. These kids are really precious.

Casting director Jessica Ronane
Casting director Jessica Ronane

How closely do you work with the director Laurence Connor?
We had to get to know each other really well so I could gauge his taste and how to best introduce him to the right group of children.

What is the most striking difference between auditioning young performers compared to older actors?
Their sense of fun! There is less jeopardy for young performers, on the whole, so they can enjoy the ride and rewards of their hard work without worrying much about their future career. Watching them reap all the benefits of being involved in a show like this is hugely intoxicating!

What's the deciding factor between two equally good auditionees?
Sometimes age, height, experience – but no decision is simple.

How does it feel having cast an Olivier-award wining group of kids?
It fills me with pride seeing them win awards but it's also not surprising as it is so deserved. These children are phenomenally talented and deserve to be noticed.

What's it like seeing the kids you cast perform for the first time?
It's a huge thrill!

School of Rock - The Musical runs at the New London Theatre until 13 January. For more information head to www.schoolofrockthemusical.co.uk/opencall or contact Jessica Ronane Casting at [email protected]

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