All-white Half a Sixpence casting director: ‘We did audition BAME actors’

Emma Williams, Charlie Stemp and company in Half a Sixpence. Photo: Manuel Harlan
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The casting director of Half a Sixpence has responded to criticisms of the show’s all-white cast, claiming black and Asian performers were auditioned but none who were a “good fit for the roles” were found.

He also said more opportunities are being offered to minority ethnic performers in television and film, and consequently many are less inclined to sign on to long theatre contracts.

Trevor Jackson, who is the head of casting for Cameron Mackintosh, was addressing criticisms made of the musical’s casting in a letter to The Stage.

Jackson said the show’s director, Rachel Kavanaugh, and her team were “naturally concerned” that, although they had worked with several artists to try to achieve it, they were not able to deliver a multiracial cast.

“After a protracted audition period, we reluctantly accepted that we were unable to deliver anyone who was both a good fit for the roles available and at the skill level necessary,” he said.

Jackson added that there was an unusually large number of shows with ethnic casts running in the West End, and so many performers were not available.

He went on to say: “What is also apparent is that the appetite to address diversity issues in the non-musical theatre, in film and in television is offering ethnic artists emerging from musical theatre courses opportunities for mixed careers that have rarely been available to their Caucasian alumni.”

He added this was “frustrating” for musical theatre casting directors, but praised the increased visibility for minority ethnic performers it promotes.

Read the full letter here.