MTV Cofounder Tom Freston once said, “Innovation is taking two things that exist and putting them together in a new way”.

When the COVID-19 pandemic dramatically affected the Cruise Industry, it also caused the entire Performing Arts industry to come to a sudden halt. Shows all over the world, including London’s West End and New York’s Broadway districts, saw immediate closures and performers’ contracts cancelled. With short notice, the Norwegian Creative Studios Theatrical Casting Department was tasked with finding new ways to seek and engage talent for what was, at the time, an unpredictable future.

In regular operating seasons, the Theatrical Casting Department holds auditions worldwide. With normal office operations suspended, the team needed to put their heads together to come up with safe and economical ways to stay connected to both agents and talent.

After some thought, all involved agreed that the use of ZOOM would be an exciting way to hold “Virtual Vocal Auditions” to give those who are self-isolating an opportunity to be seen by the NCS Casting team. The task of bringing this idea to life was led by Theatrical Casting Specialist, Brian Baez. His work on developing these virtual auditions would allow the team to stay on track, in terms of securing talent, and be ready to jump back into action once regular operations resumed. “Being innovative was one of our main goals for 2020, even before the social distancing restrictions. This is an outstanding example of the team being exactly that, ...innovative” says Kai Alan Carrier, Sr. Manager of Theatrical Operations.

The response by the Performing Arts Community to these Virtual Vocal Auditions, has been fantastic. As performers and agents submitted initial headshots and performance reels for review, team members, Brandon Copeland, Hannah Kohl, and Theatrical Casting Manager, Erika Holmes, were able to select appropriate candidates to receive individual, Virtual Vocal Audition appointments. Using technology in new ways to accomplish what was traditionally done in person, had its challenges. Overall, the Virtual Vocal Audition model has been a success!

Image placeholder

Now, the Theatrical Casting Department is looking at new ways to use the ZOOM platform to further their reach. Remaining visible and relevant in the Performing Arts and Cruise Entertainment industries are key to the Entertainment Department’s successful return to operations. They’re now connecting with universities, performing arts programs, and professional artists to offer Q&A sessions and audition prep master classes. This outreach is already proving to be successful.

Image placeholder

Though these changes were brought on under tough circumstances, we realize that some of these temporary innovations may prove to be permanent changes to the department’s process once we’re all together again. The Norwegian Creative Studios Theatrical Casting Department is excited to adapt and face challenges head-on!