Casting Interview with FITA Stage Play Director Christopher Bentivegna

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The cast of the world premiere of Flowers in the Attic : The Stage Play
has officially been announced !

And AtticSecrets , were given the exclusive two hours before the rest of the world thanks to director Christopher Bentivegna!

This group of actors and actresses are making VCA history by being the first to portray the much loved characters in a never seen before Theatrical Production

AtticSecrets, Lorraine Elgar, caught up with director Christopher Bentivegna to discuss the ins and outs of the casting process.

Hey Chris , so auditions are over finally – how was the response ?

When “See ‘Em On Stage: A Production Company” announced that we were doing “Flowers in the Attic” as our next production, the reaction from the public was really very positive.

When we announced auditions for it, we had the biggest response that we’ve ever had in our company’s history.

Originally, we had only planned on doing two days of auditions but we had to add a third day to accommodate everyone who was interested in auditioning.

Wow ! Was there anything in particular you were looking for in the actors who auditioned?

Going into the auditions, I knew I was going to put a lot of pressure on myself to find actors that were as close to perfect for the roles as possible.

When people contacted me about auditioning I told them that, in addition to talent, I was looking for specific physical traits and asked everyone if they were willing to make changes to their appearance necessary in order to look the way the characters are described in the books.

It was important to me to stick closely to the descriptions that V.C. Andrews created for these characters; especially since it was going to be the world premiere.

I imagine in the future there will be many productions of “Flowers in the Attic” with actors that represent a variety of looks; and I think that could be really interesting. The play itself does not describe the characters in great detail, so I think that allows some freedom and flexibility for future directors to interpret the characters slightly different than the source material (the original novel) describes them.

I also wanted actors who knew the material or who at least liked the concept of the material and were willing to become more familiar with the book. And of course I needed talented, beautiful, and charismatic actors to pull off the vision that I have for this production. Most importantly, each actor had to be able to capture the essence of these beloved characters that have been familiar to fans for over 35 years.

Were there any particular standout moments?

The very first time I heard the first scene being read out loud was a stand out moment for me.

I had envisioned “Flowers in the Attic” as being a stage play for years, so that fact that Andrew Neiderman (V.C. Andrews’ ghost writer) had actually turned it into one, and I was collaborating with him on the first production of it…well, it all felt very surreal when I heard the words of these characters being spoken live in front of me.

Throughout the audition process, I was impressed with how much passion the actors auditioning had for the material.

I gave all the actors a lot of feedback during the process and all of them took my notes and applied them beautifully.

The audition process was not easy and it was long but everyone there really wanted to be a part of it and that was truly humbling and rewarding.

Another stand out moment was how professional, poised, and talented all of the children who auditioned for Cory and Carrie were. I was really honored to have such great talent to choose from.

A lot of fans are very particular on how the characters should look
one of our members Ted questions:
it’s a casting director’s dilemma – do you pick an actress for the looks or do you pick her for her talent?

V.C. Andrews created characters that are vividly seared into our imaginations through her detailed descriptions of them.

She literally refers to them as dolls and describes their features in details. The previous (movie) adaptations have stayed faithful to her descriptions and I felt that this very first stage version needed to stay true to it as well.

Anyone who wanted to audition was encouraged to, but I was clear with everyone that I was looking to match the physical descriptions from the book as closely as possible.

That said, in theory, if someone would have looked exactly the way I had imagined one of the characters to look but he or she were not a good actor I would have definitely gone with the better actor who almost looked like the way I imagined the character to be.

Lucky for me, I found actors who not only resemble the descriptions of the characters from the novel, but who are extremely talented as well. 

How did you pick your final seven ?
 
During the three days of auditions, I had many opportunities to see each actor reading different scenes from the show several times each.

Almost every actor who auditioned came to at least two of the three auditions. Some even came to all three!

It was very important to me to not only find the actors who individually would do a great job as the character but also a group of actors who together had chemistry, could be believable as a family, and who seemed to demonstrate passion for the material.

I tried out many combinations of actors and over time it just started to become more clear as to how I wanted to cast the show.

With so many talented actors auditioning, it was a difficult process to narrow it down to just five adult actors (and two children), but we ended up with a really great cast.

Were the cast aware of the original book ? Are they fans themselves ?

Many of the people who auditioned for the show were fans of the book, or fans of the movies, or both. Those who were not familiar with the books or movies seemed to be fascinated by the story itself.

The actor that I ended up casting as Christopher (Levi Hood) told me that he was so intrigued by the story that he bought the audio version of the book and had begun listening to it prior to auditioning.

Kali Russell, who is playing Cathy, was given the book as a gift after being cast and told me later that she had only planned on reading a few pages that night but once she started she couldn’t stop reading it. She commented on how VC Andrews’ language was almost hypnotizing.

Rebecca Elizabeth Hollingsworth (Corrine) is a great fan of the book and Jen Pagan (Older Cathy) had read the book as a teenager and loved the story.
Mary Pauley (Olivia) had not read the book but was very familiar with the story in an ‘urban legend’ kind of way.

The children (Daisey Mackey and Edward Boudreaux IV) who were cast as Cory and Carrie had been told the story prior to auditioning and their reaction to the whole thing seemed to be a mix of being delighted and a little shocked.

So now you ‘ll be moving onto rehearsals, its definitely an exciting time to be in the VCA fandom – How does it feel to be at the forefront of such an historical occasion ?

There is so much happening right now in the world of V.C. Andrews with the release of “Secret Brother” (a novel that is tied to the original “Flowers in the Attic” series) and the filming of “My Sweet Audrina” as a TV movie. Another VC Andrews’ books is being considered for a TV series, and of course the Dollanganger books were recently made into four successful and highly rated Lifetime TV-movies. So the fact that “Flowers in the Attic” has been adapted into a stage play by Andrew Neiderman and we are getting to work with him to bring it to audiences for the very first time is extremely rewarding. It is thrilling and very fun (and a little bit of pressure) to be officially part of the V.C. Andrews world right now and part of history and hopefully we will meet all of the fans’ expectations. I truly cannot wait to present this play to audiences. We have the most wonderful space to work with at the Old Marquer Theatre where audiences will literally become immersed into the physical environment of the attic. People who see this production will get to experience V.C. Andrews in a way that no one ever has before. THAT is something that I cannot wait to see!

Thank you Christopher for taking the time out to chat to us , its been a pleasure as always xxx

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