We all have dreams about what we might achieve in a performing career. For some, that dream is to play Elphaba in Wicked on Broadway; for some it’s to sing opera on the stage of La Scala; and for some, it’s to sell out stadiums like Taylor Swift. For some, it’s simply to make a living singing for audiences.
Well, for Rebekah Casad the dream was always to be a Disney princess. Her love of Disney started before she could even remember, and she credits much of that love to her grandmother who made dress-up dresses for her and danced around with her to Disney soundtracks when she was a child. And then when she became a high school student and was asked what she wanted to do with her life, she always answered, “I’m going to be a Disney princess,” even though she didn’t know at the time that was a real job! She chose to major in Communications in college (since Disney princess was not a major) and attended her first Disney audition when she was a sophomore in college. That audition was originally scheduled to be for singer/performers but was changed to be geared more toward dancers. She participated anyway, and, although she wasn’t hired at that first audition, she learned a bit about the Disney audition process and what to expect when she tried again. She kept honing her communication skills and growing her performance experience in college, where she chose a minor in Voice. And then, in her senior year of college, she auditioned for Disney a second time, and she landed her dream role – Belle from Beauty and the Beast.
Rebekah went on to play Belle for eight years in a variety of shows and events at Disney World and even became a trainer, teaching other young aspiring Disney performers how to embody their roles. She now has years of valuable experience and advice to pass along to the next generation of Disney princesses, princes, fairies, mermaids, and more! Here are some of her suggestions for how you can make your Disney dreams comes true.
Don’t be discouraged if you aren’t cast the first time. While she didn’t land the role of Belle in her first live audition, that experience let her know what to expect when she got the chance to audition again, which led her to feel more calm in that second round.
Get all the experience you can. Keep honing your skills in singing, acting, movement and improvisation. If you are aiming for a singing role, you may still be asked to do a movement exercise during your live audition or callback, so you want to be sure you are comfortable taking direction and learning movements quickly. Since many of the Disney princesses interact with guests, you may be given a scene to improvise in the style of a certain character, so make sure you are comfortable working without a script.
Show it all – as in, all of your expressions. Remember these characters are larger than life, so the actors playing them must project confidence and be over the top with their expressions, movements, and voice.
Keep an open mind. You never know what new projects Disney is looking to cast. They may see you in a role you’ve never heard of or one that you never imagined for yourself. You may dream of being Elsa, but would you really turn down Anna if they offered you that role? If not, then be prepared to audition for a role you never expected.
Do the research. Know the parades and shows at the Disney parks that use the characters you are interested in. Know whether those characters belt or use a more legit style of singing and choose the appropriate type of audition song. Check the vocal range that is required for the singing audition and make sure you show that in your audition.
Tell a story. As Rebekah says, “Disney is a storytelling company at the heart of it, so being able to fully immerse yourself in that story, and have that story told in sixteen bars is going to be helpful.” If you can tell a good story in sixteen bars of music, the casting directors will know you can tell a longer story if given that opportunity.
Be grateful. Say thank you at your audition. Whether you get a callback or not, send a follow up email that thanks the casting directors for seeing you and lets them know you’d be happy to come in for any other opportunity. Always leave the door open for the next audition!
And, Rebekah says, if you are cast as a Disney princess, enjoy every second of it!