Chicago kids showcase their acting chops at ‘Christmas Carol’ auditions
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When Roman Mitchell heard about the Goodman Theatre’s open auditions for its 41st annual “A Christmas Carol,” the 16-year-old felt he was in luck.
“I love this play and I’ve wanted to be in it since I saw it last year,” Roman said. “I was in the Family Christian Center’s production of ‘Scrooge’ last year and I really liked it, so when I heard about these auditions I was really excited.”
Mitchell was one of about 140 youngsters from ages 5 to 17 who registered to audition for a role in the upcoming production.
Kids and parents waited in a line that wrapped around the theatre early Saturday morning, and trickled in, waiting to be seen by one of two casting directors who were looking to fill the roles of Tiny Tim, boy Scrooge, Belinda, Emily, Peter and, of course, the turkey child.
For seasoned 12-year-old veterans like Nia Williams and her friend Trinity Johnson, they said the play was a chance to further their singing and acting careers — Nia was an extra on the Showtime series “The Chi.”
Aine Starshak, 13, said she was looking to beef up a resume and show how serious she is about acting.
Others, like 6-year-old Madison Seaton, had seen the play with family every year and decided they wanted to be part of the fun.
The Saturday auditions presented a second chance for Vikram Konkimalla, 6. He auditioned for the play last year and was short-listed for Tiny Tim, a role he wants to play because “he’s cute,” Vikram said.
His mom, Reemaa, says that Vikram is “very comfortable acting out roles” — he’s been in two school plays and is enthusiastic about the stage.
“It’s a great chance for him to sharpen his acting skills,” Konkimalla said. “He was a little young for the role last year. We practiced a lot and practiced the limp, but last year he didn’t know the word ‘limp.’ So this year we did some research . . . He needs to practice his limp.”
Henry Wishcamper, who will be directing the play for the sixth straight year, said casting associates were looking for “a couple different things” in the young performers who came in Saturday.
“We’re looking for at least some who can sing or who have musical ability,” Wishcamper said. “We’re also looking for kids who are gregarious, who are smart and grounded and fun and playful. It’s a lot of work, it requires a lot of attention and discipline and passion, so we’re really looking for kids who have a sense of themselves and who can work well both with other kids and adults.”
After Saturday’s auditions, some of those who performed today will be chosen to return for callbacks on Sept. 17 and 20. The first rehearsal is Oct. 23. The first preview of the show is Nov. 17 and its closing performance is Dec. 30.
The kid roles are all well and good for Roman — but he said it’d be a step on the way to his dream of one day playing the role of Ebenezer Scrooge.
“It would mean a lot to me,” Roman said. “I’ve been in a lot of productions at church, but this would take [my career] to a whole other level.”