Cast98 enables directors to move from casting to rehearsal scheduling with no downtime. Where most community theatres choose to send a preliminary schedule shortly after the cast list is publicized, this schedule only covers the first one or two weeks. Essentially, it buys the directors time to produce the full schedule - a task that commonly takes two weeks... until now.
Cast98's Schedule Builder enables an immediate turnaround from completing the cast list to scheduling rehearsals. It is possible to finalize the full run's schedule just a few hours after casting decisions are made. You may even decide to announce the cast list and rehearsal schedule at the same time... wouldn't that be novel?
This directors' guide will walk through the process.
Schedule the read-thru in 60 seconds
Upon publishing the cast list, it is best practice to send the new cast some limited instructions, welcoming them to the family and advising them to prepare for the schedule within a day or two. It will take the director only about 60 seconds using the Schedule Builder to find the best day for a first full company meeting or read-thru, and this can be communicated to the cast in this initial correspondence.
Start with big or inflexible events
The hardest events to schedule are the ones requiring the most attendees, such as full cast run throughs leading up to tech week. The easiest are those with immovable dates, such as a parade day or dress rehearsals.
What follows are some suggestions for best practices to follow when building your cast's rehearsal schedule, based on years of experience with event planning among large groups.
Dress Rehearsals + Tech Week
Start with your opening night and work backwards. If your production cycle is like 99% of shows, each day for at least a week before the first performance will be a mandatory full cast dress rehearsal. You don't need to weigh conflicts to add these events to the schedule.
If your city or township hosts any large community events between your first and last rehearsals - perhaps a football game, parade, or street festival - you may want to mark these on the schedule with no attendees. That way everyone (including the directors) will remember them and make no mistake about rehearsals on that day. These are also excellent days to schedule solo and duet rehearsals, since many from your cast are likely to have conflicts here.
Contrastly, if you plan to sponsor a float in a parade or run concessions at a sporting event or hold a car wash as a fundraiser for the show, add these dates to the schedule with the entire cast marked as an attendee. This will be a clear indication for everyone that their participation is expected.
Big Ensemble Musical Numbers
Consider which numbers (the Prologue, the Entr'acte, the Finale, etc.) will require the most attendees. You know you will need to rehearse the music as well as the choreography at least a couple times with the entire group, so go ahead and try to find a place for these rehearsals. This is the hardest part, so remember to take breaks and have a drink. :)
Perhaps you'll be able to separate these out into subgroups (such as separate rehearsals for the tap dance break, the background movement, and the tumblers) for extra work, but prioritize the largest attendance rehearsals and add them to the schedule where you find the fewest conflicts among your required attendees.
Lean into your predefined rehearsal groups
Hopefully you've read our Directors' Guide to Casting and learned of the value and power of rehearsal groups.