The show I had chosen was written last year (2016) for a cast of young actors ranging in ages from 9-12. I knew I had parts that could work for younger children, so I stated that my age limits would be for 6-12 year olds. As the enrollments started coming in, I learned that the younger siblings of previous participants were so disappointed. They told their mothers that they had been "waiting their whole lives for this!" In fact, some mothers told me that they would not be able to send their older child if the younger sibling couldn't come, too. What was I to do? In order to get enough older kids to fill the lead roles, I needed to open the enrollment to the five year old siblings as well.
My next thought was to limit the size of the cast. I happen to know that 30 children fill up my back patio stage to capacity. So, I thought I would cap enrollment at 30 participants. But, in order to get the older kids I needed, I ended up with 43 kids in the show.
The next question was how exactly I was going to divide the scenes into workable groups so that they would not be together on the stage all the time. Fortunately, I knew the talents of most of the older kids. And I had units of characters that could be played by the younger children. I basically had to pre-cast most of the parts by age range, size and gender. It was only the lead characters that I really needed to "audition." They did not know that they were auditioning as they were doing warm-ups and learning the songs, but they were. Turns out that how I had pre-cast the show before any of the children even came to camp turned out to be the only solution that could have worked.
We practiced together for 3 hours a day for 10 days -- that's a mere 30 hours to teach, learn and polish for a 45 minute show. The lead characters did a fine job with their lines, songs, choreography and many costume changes. As expected, the littlest kids put their cute factor to use and stole the show. The 19 boys in our play probably would have preferred if we had run a sports camp, but in the end, they came through and even learned their choreography. We had a group of 7 seven-year-old girls that really had to rise to the occasion. They had three big dance numbers plus some other scenes where they played different characters. In all, they had five costume changes. Sometimes they only changed a hat or scarf, but they also had to work with specific props. The Narrators had the busiest schedule of all. They provided the continuity during the show, sang most of the songs, danced, used props, and ended up being the stage crew changing the scenery and bringing on the set pieces. I was quite pleased with my little thespians.
Fortunately, the show came together and the performance was well enjoyed by the audience. They even sang along when encouraged!