Wheaton Drama, Inc. (WDI) announces auditions for the next show in its 2018-2019 season, Silent Laughter by Billy Van Zandt and Jane Milmore (Love, Sex and the IRS, Confessions of a Dirty Blonde, The Senator Wore Pantyhose). An homage to the slapstick days of early silent movies, Silent Laughter is the story of Billy, a hapless schnook in New York, 1917. Not just a retread of pie fights and pratfalls (although they are certainly present), Silent Laughter takes up the challenge of presenting death-defying Buster Keaton/Charlie Chaplin/Harold Lloyd style gags, with a bit of Laurel & Hardy and Musty Suffer. If you love this type of comedy, now is your chance to perform it.
What to expect at auditions:
“DELIGHTFUL! An affectionate amusing tribute to the heyday of silent film comedy with romance, high and low jinks and a climactic pie fight.”– The New York Times
“A tour-de-force! Hilarious! Clever! This is one crowd-pleaser where you needn’t feel embarrassed to be part of the crowd. Van Zandt directs the uproarious proceedings with precision and flair. An ensemble of 10, which executes gifted mime, balletic pratfalls, and operatic emotions, all with brio.”– The Village Voice
“An adoring salute to the golden age of film and an innovative twist on live theater! You won’t hear a single word uttered in Silent Laughter, but the show offers quite a bit to see and hear.Silent Laughterdisplays a wholly original brand of ‘musical theater.’ There is considerable sophistication and subtlety in this production.” – Associated Press
“An imaginative, respectful, reverential stage recreation of the slapstick antics of Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Mack Sennett’s Keystone Kops, and the rest. Cleverly devised. The silence may be on stage, but the laughter is in the audience!” – Two River Times
Craig Gustafson is directing. Production Manager: Elyse Willis. Stunt Choreographer: Andrew Trygstad.
To get a feel for what the show will be like, check out the commercial for the original off-Broadway production:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7fPxYPWtJDI, or start watching all the Buster Keaton silent films you can find; especially Sherlock, Jr.
In order to best utilize the time of actors auditioning for Silent Laughter, auditions are by appointment only at Playhouse 111, 111 N. Hale Street in downtown Wheaton.
When asked what actors will have to do for auditions, director Gustafson’s response has been, “Monologues.” Well… not exactly. When you apply for an appointment, you will be sent audition sides unrelated to the show. “These will be dialogue scenes,” explains Gustafson. “People talk to each other in silent movies; we just don’t hear them. What I will be looking for is how you physicalize the scene; how visually expressive you can be.” Additionally, stunt choreographer Andrew Trygstad will have exercises to gauge how physically adept the actors are. Dress to allow movement.
The process is as follows:
Beginning on September 16 (and not before): to schedule an appointment, please e-mail SilentWDI@comcast.net. State your name and which day you would like to audition. Attaching a headshot and resume is acceptable but not required. Audition sides will be sent to you when your appointment is scheduled.
- Actors will be scheduled for October 1 or 2.If all slots fill up on those dates, other dates will be added.
- Actors will be assigned a call time, either 7:00, 7:30, 8:00, 8:30, 9:00 or 9:30 p.m.
- Actors will be assigned to a group and will spend 30 minutes in the audition.
- Walk-ins will be seen onlyif there are any cancellations or open slots, so making an appointment is strongly encouraged.
- Those cast or called back will be called by noon on Wednesday, October 3.Actors who are not cast or called back will be contacted by e-mail. If necessary, callbacks will be held at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, October 3.
Performances of Silent Laughter are November 16 – December 9, 2018. Shows are Thursdays/Fridays/Saturdays at 8pm; Sundays at 3pm. There will be no performance on Thanksgiving. Auditions, rehearsals, & performances will take place at Wheaton Drama’s Playhouse 111, located at 111 N. Hale Street, Wheaton, IL 60187.
For tickets and information, please visit http://www.wheatondrama.org.
Silent Laughter is presented by special arrangement with Samuel French, Inc.
Cast size is eight men and two women. All actors must be able to perform dexterous physical comedy. Any actor cast as someone other than those listed below will play many characters. Many, many characters. It is truly an ensemble show with major comedic moments for all.
BILLY – The Hero.
RUTH – The Heroine.
BILLY’S PAL – Billy’s Pal.
LIONEL DRIPPINWITHIT – Billy’s Arch-Enemy.
BREWSTER THICKWAD – Billy’s Boss and Future Father-in-Law.
MAX THE THUG – Billy’s Cellmate and Foxhole Buddy.
SARGE – Billy’s Nemesis.
And a Cast of Hundreds.
If you have any questions, contact Craig Gustafson at SilentWDI@comcast.net.