Don't Miss your shot at stardom

By Ellen Irvine

Wanted - girls who can sing, dance and act. Must not mind standing on stage in front of 500 people wearing nothing but a bikini.
It's not the casting call for the Miss Mount Maunganui pageant, but a hunt for performers to bring the international hit musical Miss Saigon to Tauranga.
Tauranga Musical Theatre will perform the show at Baycourt Theatre in April and May next year, and has launched its search for the 60-strong cast.
While the bikini-clad "Vietnamese bar girls" might be hard to find, director Toni Henderson said her biggest challenge will be finding the lead female role, Kim - a Vietnamese orphan who falls in love with an American GI during the Vietnam War.
The successful performer will need to be an Asian woman aged between 17 and 25, who has the singing and acting chops to take on the role.
"We are hopeful we will find someone locally," Mrs Henderson said.
"It's always our policy to try and cast locally - we don't like to shop around, although some of the other societies have done that. New Plymouth is using a girl from Auckland.
"We are really hopeful that someone will come out of the woodwork with the right mix."
That mix includes someone who has a "mature voice" and strong dramatic skills, and is a slightly-built Asian.
"It's a very big sing. It does need someone with experience and strength,"  Mrs Henderson said.
Another challenge is casting the role of Kim and Chris' son Tam, who is half-Vietnamese and half-European.
Mrs Henderson said she would cast three boys to alternate playing the role.
"It's quite late nights for them. The idea is we will have one on stage, one on back-up, and one at home sleeping.
"The kid is supposed to look three years old, but if they have a small build we should be able to get away with them being five or six.
"They are on stage doing things by themselves, so they have got to follow instructions and remember what they are doing."
Mrs Henderson anticipated the most highly sought-after role would be the one European female lead role - Ellen, the wife of American GI Chris.
The other female parts are Asian, but Mrs Henderson said she was "realistic" about finding an entire cast of Asian women in Tauranga.
"Some of the other productions, like in Christchurch and Palmerston North, have had universities with international students they have been able to draw from, but we don't have that same privilege.
"We know that we are not going to get a cast of Asians that are good dramatically and vocally." 
The production could work with women who were slight of build who could be transformed with hair and makeup to look Asian.
To find out more about auditions, Tauranga Musical Theatre is holding an information evening this Friday at 7pm at Westside Theatre, 17th Ave.
Miss Saigon will be performed at Baycourt Theatre from April-May 8.
 

- Bay of Plenty Times

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