Live and video auditions will be conducted for “Miss Dirt Turtle’s Garden Club,” a musical written by Danny Boyd, with music by Larry Groce, which will be directed by Adam Bryan, with musical direction by Mark Scarpelli.
“Miss Dirt Turtle’s Garden Club” will be performed Sept. 3-5 and 10-12 at the Alban Arts Center, 65 Olde Main Plaza in St. Albans.
The synopsis of the stage play states: “Surviving adolescence is hard anywhere, especially in underprivileged neighborhoods. Five 10-year-old best friends try to survive a summer of bullies, parents with substance abuse issues, broken homes … crime … social workers… thieves … slumlords … and poverty. When hope is rare, and you are living in a world without solid earth beneath you, it is hard to have hope. Especially when there seems to be no path forward.
“These five friends try to navigate all these pitfalls in a most unexpected way: working in the sheltered garden of who they always thought was just a mean, strange old lady. A woman of very few words, Miss Dirt Turtle lays a path of ‘foundation’ – starting with the earth around them.
“Can there be hope in a world that greatly stacks the odds against them? Can five average 10-year-olds, with the help of an Old Head, a social worker and some newly discovered comic book superheroes, find their way to a bright future? Like a garden, the seasons of these unlikely heroes slowly change them into who they really are. For sure, a seed can’t grow ‘til it’s planted in the ground.”
Character descriptions are as follows (age ranges are suggested and variable):
• Miss Dirt Turtle (June Autumn Greene), elderly, Black, quietly wise
• Marty (Martin), 10ish, white
• Rosie (Rosalita), 10ish, Hispanic
• Terykah, 10ish, Black
• Rajanae, 10ish, Black
• Chatter (Tai’Vion), 10ish, Black
• Mr. Old Head, older, Black, streetwise
• Frances the CPS Lady, middle-aged, white
• Hammerheads, at least 10 of them, neighborhood bullies, 11 to 14 years old, various sexes and races
• Birdies, Squirrels, Little Starts, Seedlings, 10ish, varying sexes and races
• Adult Marty, 22-ish
• Adult Terykah, 22-ish
• Adult Rosie, 22-ish
• Adult Rajanae, 22-ish.
• Adult Chatter, 22-ish.
Those auditioning need to only audition in one of the following ways, and, if auditioning in person, need to attend only one day.
In-person auditions are scheduled for 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, June 20, at The Cavern at Canaan United Methodist Church, 401 Roane St. on Charleston’s West Side (across from the Delaware Avenue Kroger supermarket).
A second round of live auditions is slated for Saturday and Sunday, June 26 and 27, at the Alban Arts Center in St. Albans.
Those wishing to audition at either location are encouraged to prepare a short selection to sing, as well as a short monologue to present, although neither is required; songs and monologues will be available during the audition period.
“Wear comfortable clothing that allows for free movement,” Bryan said in a release, “as there will be a simple movement section of the audition as well. No previous experience is needed, and everyone age 8 and up, of all experience levels, is encouraged to audition.”
Sign-ups for audition times can be made at forms.gle/pZutSkqeXdFdQxG66.
Video auditions are also being accepted. “To submit an audition via video, please record yourself performing a short monologue as well as singing a short selection from a song of your choice,” Bryan said. “Speak and sing loudly and clearly and have fun.
“Make sure when filming your video to do so in a quiet space with ample lighting that allows us to hear and see you clearly. Please start the video by telling us your name and age.”
Videos should be no longer than five minutes. They can be sent to: email@example.com. Those auditioning should include their name, age, phone number, preferred email and, if a minor, the names and phone numbers of parents or guardians in the email.
All video submissions are due no later than 2 p.m. on Sunday, June 27.
Rehearsals will be held at the Alban Arts Center. Most of them will be held Monday through Thursday evenings, with possibly a few Saturday or Sunday afternoon rehearsals.
“We will rehearse three to four times per week, but depending on what you are cast as, you may or may not be required to attend all rehearsals,” Bryan said. “You will also be given an opportunity to tell of us any conflicts you may have during the rehearsal process, and we will do our best to schedule around those conflicts.
“Tech Week is Aug. 29 through Sept. 5, and everyone will be required to attend rehearsal every night as well as the performances that weekend. We will also hold a refresher rehearsal on Sept. 9 that everyone in the cast will be required to attend, as well as all performances on Sept. 10, 11 and 12.”
Boyd is a retired media studies professor at West Virginia State University and Groce is a singer-songwriter and longtime host, co-founder and artistic director of the West Virginia Public Radio “Mountain Stage” program.