Group by group, the hopeful performers filed on stage to read from the script, the bright stage lights casting a theatrical glow.
The auditions required the Payson High School students to read the script without practicing beforehand, in a so-called cold reading.
The play, “Hot Property,” tracks a down-on-his-luck character named Jamie who is harassed by everyone around him — even the Girl Scouts. On the verge of losing everything, Jamie’s late mother’s novel serves as Jamie’s last hope. But the evil Spencer publishes the book under his own name.
“He’s swindling Jamie out of his inheritance,” said stage director John Siler. “This show has some really wild twists to it,” he added, along with zany characters.
With a cast of just eight, many of the roughly 20 students who auditioned Tuesday won’t make the cut. The unsuccessful actors are encouraged to help out behind the scenes.
Casting the play is the stage director’s most difficult job, said drama teacher Kathy Siler. The director must consider not only talent, but also chemistry between characters. Sometimes, the director considers physical attributes if a character must look a certain way.
“Sometimes you have to mix them around like dominoes,” said Kathy.
Normally, the drama department must choose large productions with enough cast members for every student in the advanced drama class to win a role.
This year, however, the Silers turned a challenge into an opportunity. Fewer class periods at high school spurred about six kids to drop advanced drama from their schedules.
And so, Kathy decided to put on an after-school play so kids not taking advanced drama could still audition for a play. Because the play isn’t a classroom production, the Silers could choose one with fewer parts.
“John and I have wanted to do this play for a long time,” said Kathy. However, the small cast has until now delayed the play’s performance.
“Those lucky eight kids will have a sizeable role,” Kathy said. “It’s going to set the tone for the whole season.”
“Hot Property” will open in mid-September, with the announcement of dates forthcoming. Other plays this year will include “Peter Pan,” complete with actual flying actors, the senior-directed one-act plays, and a yet-to-be-determined Broadway musical in April. Also in April, students will perform “Up the Down Staircase,” a play about a fresh-college graduate who takes her first teaching job at an inner city school.