Ryan Saab was a performer for 10 years before working his way up to become head of casting at Royal Caribbean Productions. He talks to The Stage about what he looks for when casting and his advice for performers.

What do you look for when recruiting someone?
We look for captivating, technical, experienced performers who are also great team players with good hearts to join our team. Technical ability for our vocalists and dancers always comes first. We have over 100 produced elements so the type of performer we need is quite vast, which makes my job fun!
 
Do you have any advice for people auditioning for you?
Always remember that the people sitting on the other side of the table are on your side! We want you to succeed as much as you do. Come in to the room bringing your best, knowing that we are right behind you supporting you along the way.
 
What is it like to work at your organisation?
What most performers may not realise is that Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines entertainment product is at times more heavily produced and supported than most land-based shows. We pride ourselves on the quality of our shows and the award winning venues they are performed in. Imagine getting paid to perform in award winning Broadway and Signature shows, world class venues, free housing and food while getting paid to see some of the most exotic places around the world. You can’t beat that!

Do you have any advice for people looking to break into the industry?
You’ll hear “no” more than you will hear “yes”. But remember, your last “no” is bringing you closer to your next "yes"! Keep everything in perspective and understand that casting is a huge puzzle and when something doesn’t make sense, there is a clear reason behind it that most of the time has nothing to do with you. Keep a healthy mind and healthy body, and the rest will come in time. 


What was your first job?
I worked at a fast food chain in Southern California for a month. Realised it wasn’t something I wanted to do and got a job as an accounting clerk which led me to an early career in finance which has helped me immensely as a producer and casting professional.
 
How did you get into the role you’re in now?
I was a performer for over 10 years in the early 2000’s and toured all over the world as a back up dancer and singer. I was always very interested in the ‘other side of the table’ and started a company in NYC which opened up doors for me as a producer and ultimately taking on the role of head of casting, as well as being a part of the Executive Producing Team for Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines.
 
What professional achievement are you most proud of?
It’s hard to call out a single professional achievement that I’m most proud of. I always strive to create a welcoming environment of support and encouragement in an audition room so that every performer that walks in feels that support, and is inspired to keep working hard to hone their craft and be the best performers they can be! I’m most proud when I see this accomplished first hand.
 
What have you got coming up in the future?
Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines is in a very exciting time of growth. We plan to add a new ship to our fleet over the next 10 years which means more and more shows and hundreds of additional performers will be needed. Our entertainment product is one of the leaders in the entertainment industry so my future looks like an exciting and challenging one where I will support our ongoing efforts to continue to deliver the best entertainment product for our performers and our guests.