What is type?
Type is one of the most troubling issues facing many young performers. Type is a term the industry uses to define whether or not you physically look like someone who could realistically play a specific role. In high school, students are asked to play characters of all different ages, looks, and socio-economic backgrounds. The schools use costumes, make-up, and body language to make it work. However, in the real world, there are so many actors available that its fairly easy to find whatever you are looking for. If the casting director decides they want a 6’1″ tall girl, with red hair, size 8 dress, and size 9 shoes – he will probably find her. To help save time, casting directors use type as a way to describe what they want and eliminate what they don’t want before they waste time listening to people sing. If you do not look like the type normally associated with the repertoire you will be singing, you will not be taken seriously.
Gaston in Beauty and the Beast: Gaston is supposed to be a tall, strong, and manly. When Disney is casting the person has to be at least 6’1″. There is an expectation of the look and the voice quality. If you don’t fit the type, its fine to sing it for fun, but don’t take it into an audition. If you take it into an audition, you will confuse the panel and more than likely not be considered, or you may even get laughs which are not the kind of laughs you want.
Belle in Beauty in the Beast: Belle is supposed to beautiful, thin, and a soprano. If you are a short, curvy mezzo, with short black hair and a nose ring, singing “Home” is not the best audition choice for you. However, the material from “Angels, Punks, and Raging Queens” may suit you when many other girls can’t pull it off.
Type can seem limiting, but if you use it to your advantage, its liberating. When you start targeting the roles you are good for instead of targeting every audition possible, you’ll more than likely find better success.