If You're Pre-Casting a Show, Just Be Honest About It
One of the more popular topics among community theatre discussions is the act of pre-casting roles. While it's "shunned" in many circles, there are plenty of other theatres that regularly practice it in order to get the exact talent they want. Many call it unethical, while other might call it necessary based on the show.
For me, I look at it as a case by case basis. I have said in the past that when certain roles need specific types of performers(ie. race, disabilities), I'm fine with it. Because I would much rather see those roles played by the performers they were written for than not.
But what about other situations where special casting isn't quite necessary? To be honest, I'm fine with pre-casting, as long as the theatre and director are up front and honest about it at auditions.
Last week, I was notified about a theatre near my hometown where the Founder and his husband cast themselves in the lead roles in virtually every production they've ever done. While I may have raised my eyebrow at that news, I took a look at their past audition notices and saw that they made it known that those roles were not available to audition for. This is an example where pre-casting, while maybe not preferred, is not unethical because the directors are making it known before auditions begin.
Where I feel it does become unethical is where directors pre-cast roles and still hold auditions for those roles. That's just being deceitful.
I would also say that whether or not you're honest or not about pre-casting shows, theatres must know that they do this at their own risk. While you might have the best intentions or just want to put on the best show possible, a reputation of pre-casting or favoritism is certainly going to aid in dwindling your audition pool.
So if you're going to pre-cast a show, just save everyone's time and make it known before you bother inviting people to audition.