The cast party is a theatrical tradition and more important than one might think. It is a time for the cast to let off steam after the last show and to celebrate their accomplishment. But it is also a great time for the cast to bond and to get to know each other better. It encourages newbies to audition for the next show, and it allows those who had small roles to feel like they were an important part of the successful performance. It’s also a good time for the actors to get to know their director in a less formal setting than a rehearsal.
For some actors, particularly those who never rise above small roles, it is one of the reasons they will keep being a part of the troupe. We have found that some of the less talented actors who stay with the troupe through the years eventually become extremely important back stage crew.
The cast party doesn’t have to be an expensive proposition. We often had our party in the cafeteria of the school in which we had just performed. We brought in some special lighting, a small PA system for the music, and the parents supplied the decorations. We usually ordered enough pizza for the cast and the crew, purchased drinks for everyone, and any goodies left over from the refreshment stand were also set out for the kids. Our student directors (older teens who helped out with rehearsals and crew) were the deejays for the party. We could usually talk the local supermarket into donating a cake for the occasion.
One of the big attractions at our cast parties was the limbo contest. There were two lines — one for the younger (shorter) kids and one for the older (taller) kids. The winners for each line received a small prize, for instance a funny hat that said “ECT Limbo Contest Winner 2016,” plus a large candy bar.
The other important contest was a dance contest. This was a couples dance to a fast rock ’n roll song, but the “couple” could be two girls or two boys or girl-boy. The student directors were the judges. They would slowly eliminate one couple after another until it came down to three. Then they announced third place, second place, and first place. We purchased medals for the winners of the dance contest.
Another popular event was the “Snowball.” This is a slow dance that begins with the director and a partner, then, every time the music stops, the deejay shouts “Snowball!” and each person has to select a new partner. This is repeated until everyone is on the floor. Our rule was you have to dance with the opposite sex until there are no more boys on the floor (there’s always more girls than boys) and then you can dance with same sex. The student directors and sometimes parents participated in “Snowball.”
There could be other games, especially if you have a young cast. Our cast parties usually were about two hours long with a designated end time, at which point the deejay says “last dance!”, and after that parents help pack everything up.
The cast party doesn’t have to happen immediately after the last performance and there can be lots of variations — a pool party, an outdoor game party the next day, etc. The important part is that you have an event to celebrate the end of the show everyone worked hard for.
The director should take this opportunity to thank everyone, and usually one of the student directors or adult crew should thank the director for their achievement. However you do it, don’t miss the opportunity to make the cast party a memorable part of your production.