Editor’s Note: This is a guest post written by Dollywood’s Entertainment Manager, Roger White, in 2018.
While some folks think winter at Dollywood is a time to take a break, relax and reflect, it is actually quite the opposite – especially for Dollywood’s Entertainment Auditions Team. Dollywood show producers are charged with the prospect of trying to find the next group of performers to cast in their award-winning shows.
During January and February, this team spends approximately 20 days on the road either at an audition or traveling to and from an audition. The rest of the winter is spent casting, making phone calls, working out rehearsal schedules and arranging performance agreements. It’s a lot of work for Dollywood’s show producers, but the work pays off time after time as the Entertainment Team has recently picked up their ninth consecutive Golden Ticket Award for Best Shows of any theme park in the world.
Dollywood is not looking for a “cookie cutter” singer/dancer/actor, either. Each of the shows has varied demands that require a unique skill set. For example, “Country Crossroads” needs country music singers – classic and “prime” country. The acapella GemTones group asks a performer to not only be an excellent singer and listener, but to be able to interact with guests face to face, on street level. “Dreamland Drive-In” needs performers who can sing AND dance equally well. It’s not an easy task to find all of those folks!
Dollywood’s audition process is set up in such a way that the producers have time to interact and have conversations with potential hires. The “call back” segment of the audition enables the performer to see how the Entertainment Team works. They have a chance to work with the producers, choreographers and stage managers on learning a group movement combination and vocal material from Dollywood’s shows. Some performers will also be given the opportunity to do a cold reading. It’s also a good time for asking questions and sharing information. It’s a relaxed and fun, yet productive, atmosphere for everyone.
Watch these videos to hear from performers about their experience working at Dollywood.
Probably the most significant component of what Dollywood producers search for is that particular “spark,” that personality that enables a Dollywood performer to be able to relate to guests in a meaningful way. This ability is needed not only to create a special memory, but to be able to share emotional moments that bring a sincerity and level of truth to Dollywood’s shows that can’t be found at any other theme park. Dollywood’s guests know it and they love it! It is the “special sauce” that makes Dollywood’s shows the best.
For information about auditions, click here.