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April 24, 2013

Please welcome guest poster Jonathan to the blog! Jonathan Sanford spent 10 years as an actor and is now a Producer for International Special Attractions and The Works Entertainment, and has produced “The Ice Kingdom”, “Luminasia”, “The Illusionists”, “Le Noir”, and “Cirque Shanghai”.

ILMC 2013 - 25th International Live Music Conference, London

April 7, 2013

To: Actor McActorson

From: The Producer

RE: Casting For: How to Succeed in This Business, You Must Actually Try

Dear Actor McActorson,

It was excellent seeing you again at our casting call for How to Succeed in This Business, You Must Actually Try. I’m glad we hired you for our last production of Take a Chance on Me, and feel you will be a good fit for this one as well. So without further ado, we would like to offer you an opportunity to work with us again in our latest endeavor.

Let me first say I know you must think it is strange that the Producer would be writing a personal letter to offer you a role. You are correct; it is strange. However, I thought this would be a good chance to explain why, after so many years and auditions, we finally hired you. Plus, I’d like to review the reasons why we would like you to be a part of our next production.

When we hired you for Take a Chance on Me, we were doing just that: taking a chance. You may not realize this, but millions of dollars are at stake when we mount our shows, and casting the actors, while obviously important, is only a small piece of the puzzle. Stage personnel, logistics, budgeting, marketing, and financing the show are just a few of the other extremely important tasks that fall under the Producer’s mantle of responsibility. This is why it is extremely important for me to hire someone I trust and who I know will treat the show with the amount of respect it deserves. I don’t have time to deal with unknowns and risk that someone I’ve never worked with before will cause problems, whether they be personal or professional. Perhaps this is why it took us so long to give you a shot with our organization in the first place.

When you first auditioned for us two years ago, it was immediately apparent that you were exceptionally talented. You had obviously taken a hard look at the breakdown we posted on our casting notice and put in several hours of work to prepare for that one audition. Unfortunately, I had been burned before by hiring individuals who were very talented but whom I didn’t know. Some came with attitudes of entitlement, others didn’t show up prepared, and a few caused so much drama within the cast and crew that it would have made for good/bad reality TV (good/bad being dependent upon your opinion of reality TV).

The point is, I ultimately hired someone I had worked with on numerous prior occasions, as I knew what I was going to get with them. Truth be told, you were more talented, but they were someone I could trust to show up, do their job, not complain and leave their personal lives at home. Many actors just don’t understand that acting is a job like any other job. Yes, it is infinitely more rewarding and fun than sitting behind a desk for 8-14 hours a day, every day, but you are still being paid to provide a service to your employer, the Producer. Given that I have so many other responsibilities, the last thing I need to be worried about is my actors’ attitudes. Hence, I hired a known asset. Plus, they fit the costumes I already had.

To your credit, you continued to audition for me and my team, despite the fact that you didn’t get the job the first time. As I said, your talent was apparent, but I was glad that you took the time to send me a personal note after each audition. Being that I see more than 200 people per day at those things, reminding me what you sang, what monologue you did, and who you were was a nice touch that showed you cared about your business: the business of selling yourself.

After two years and maybe a half-dozen auditions, I was finally ready to risk my business and reputation on you. I saw that not only were you always prepared, but you didn’t complain or offer excuses when you were having an off day. Plus, you had obviously maintained your skillset and even improved over the years. This showed me you were someone I could take a chance on, and as luck would have it, I was right.

You showed up prepared and on-time every day, and you didn’t complain when you didn’t get your way. You left your personal affairs offstage and out of the theatre; I never saw them affect your show. You were helpful. You followed direction and were consistent. And finally, even when the audience was small and other members of your cast “checked-out”, you gave 100% to the show.

This last point is especially important to me as a Producer because even if the audience is small, the people in it paid the same amount of money to see the same show as a member of a larger audience. They don’t care if you are nursing a hangover or just broke up with your boyfriend/girlfriend; they just want to see the amazing talent they were promised when they handed over their money. Additionally, for some members of every audience, this will be the first show they ever see and for others, the last. I saw that you realized and respected that before you stepped on stage each day, and it translated in your performances.

In closing, because you did all these things, I am happy to offer you a role in How to Succeed in This Business, You Must Actually Try. Please continue to do all the things I mentioned above, and I will have no problem hiring you for my future productions and passing on people I don’t know…so long as the costumes fit.


The Producer

Thank you so much for sharing your perspective, Jonathan! It was refreshingly funny and honest.

P.S. Jonathan is married to The British Dancer 🙂

One Comment leave one →
  1. The Growing Artist permalink
    April 25, 2013 10:04 pm

    Great post, Jonathan! It was great to see your view as a producer.Very helpful!

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