Q: What is Acting Out for ALS?
A: We were founded in 2013 to raise money to fund research into a cure for ALS, also called Lou Gehrig's Disease. Since that time, we have shifted our main focus to directly helping those battling ALS in and around our home area of western Maryland and the eastern panhandle of West Virginia, by purchasing materials for home accessibility improvements, communication devices, nursing care, or any other related expenses.
Q: How much money have you raised?
A: Through our shows and outside donations, we are now over $55,000 donated locally or to the DC/MD/VA chapter of the ALS Association since May 2014.
Q: Do you pay the members of your creative team or casts?
A: All of our creative team and cast members are volunteers (and we love them for it!). Every cent we raise that doesn't go to organization expenses (paying for show costs, storage facilities, etc.) goes to our designated ALS warriors. But we do pay them in undying gratitude!
Q: What are cast members' responsibilities?
A: We have a code of conduct that cast members and (if under 18) their parents sign at auditions that outlines our expectations. It includes things like using appropriate language and treating fellow castmates well at rehearsals. Most important, cast members are required either to provide a $100 per family donation or to raise an equivalent amount through our fundraisers so that we can pay up front for as much of the costs of the show as possible (royalties, costumes, stage rental, etc.). That way our box office proceeds can be donated to our ALS warriors.
Q: Why is this a required activity or donation?
A: Simply put, shows aren't cheap, if you want them to be high-quality. Rights for scripts and music alone can cost several thousand dollars. Add to that a couple of costumes for each cast member, props, set pieces, drop curtains, and everything else, and it gets really expensive really fast. Since our primary job is to assist others through donations, we need to fund our shows in ways other than box office receipts. But if you sell about 20 hoagies, or boxes of donuts, or whatever it is we offer that makes about $100 towards the show, you can participate for free! If you'd rather donate $100, that's perfectly fine with us, too, and since we're registered as a charity with the IRS, it may even be tax-deductible.
Q: How many shows do you stage in a year?
A: Traditionally two, usually around the end of April and just before or after Thanksgiving. But we may be expanding our season starting in 2020. Stay tuned!
Q: What sorts of shows are they?
A: For the moment, we produce only musicals, although we're open to staging straight plays if the material, timing, and fundraising possibilities are right. Most shows are family-friendly for casts and audiences, and if they contain material that would require parental guidance, we will say so in all promotional materials.
Q: Who can be in your shows?
A: For our Junior shows, anyone from kindergarten to age 18. For our all-ages shows, anyone from kindergarten through adult.
Q: Do I need prior performing experience?
A: Not at all! We think our group is a great way to get your feet wet if you or your child has been wanting to audition for a show. We're pretty low-stress.
Q: What are auditions like?
A: We audition people in groups of about 8-10. Everyone will learn a short dance in the group, and then in another room, each person will sing scales on their own with our music director. If you want an ensemble role, that might be all we need from you. If you're auditioning for a role that requires solo singing or delivering lines, you'll have to prepare 30-60 seconds of a song and can expect to read from the script with the director. It's best to check our auditions page for more specific information for each show, as needs may vary.
Q: What if I don't make the cut?
A: Our motto is: If you want to be in the show, you WILL be in the show! So there's no need to be too nervous at auditions. We'll smile at you a lot.
Q: Doesn't that make for huge casts?
A: Yeah, sometimes. We've had over 70 people three times already. What we may do in those cases is split the ensemble into two or more groups so that we can make room on the stage for everyone. But we promise all cast members will get at least two chances to perform for audiences.
Q: Are you big meanies at practices?
A: No way! We believe in the power of positive reinforcement and making performance fun. So while we raise the bar high, we use encouragement to get everyone over that bar, and we've never been wrong in our approach yet. No yelling, no stomping, no making you feel awful.
Q: Okay, what if I don't want to perform but I do want to help your cause?
A: You can always come to one of our shows, if you're in the area. We also hold events like Karaoke Saturdays or craft days at our studio, and spirit nights at local restaurants. If you're not able to participate in those, go to the page labeled "Our Progress." You can find our contact information there and even donate online through PayPal, with our thanks. Please follow us on Facebook to keep up with what's going on with us all year long.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
(and hopefully some useful answers)