At surface level, this was another launch of another casting agency in an already saturated marketplace. But, speaking to the performers already signed up to R.D Production & Casting Ltd, there seemed a genuine buzz and belief that this new venture is sure to offer a different angle to what the mainstream agents out there offer. So ‘new’ is this company that contractual documents were being signed off by actors even as the champagne and coffee flowed.
You will have gathered from the title of the company that its Founder and Managing Director, Michael Moor, is keen to produce works as well as represent artists, and as I understand it, this will comprise, in the fullness of time, ‘productions’ across the spectrum of performing arts, including music and movies as well as theatre shows. To do this, it would naturally follow that the artists being represented would have, between them, the requisite skills. Based on the showreels and introductions at this event, there’s a lot of scope for collaboration.
What surprised me most of all was the sheer breadth and depth of talent and experience amongst the actors. Moor, the former Head of Musical Theatre at Guildford School of Acting, a very worthy higher education institution that has furnished the industry with many a skilled performer, would have been forgiven if, at the start of this new company, his clients were predominantly from theatrical backgrounds. What a pleasant eye-opener it was to discover this wasn’t the case, and, goodness me, these performers have so much to offer – one is a singer/songwriter, another a photographer, another doing a PhD. Two things came to mind, eventually. Firstly, why would an agent even want to have, say, twenty Shakespearean actors belting out lines in the style of Brian Blessed (wonderful as Blessed is)? Secondly, are any two people really all that identical anyway?
The work that goes into a show has been likened to that of an iceberg, insofar as what is publicly visible, while often spectacular, is a relatively small amount of the sum total. This sort of event thus proved infinitely more educational than I could ever have envisaged, particularly in gaining an insight into Michael Moor’s approach and his reasons for starting this company. I hadn’t appreciated, for instance, that there are now more courses in the higher education sector aligned to ‘performing arts’ than there are theatres in this country, even with the proliferation of new venues in recent years such as the New Diorama near Euston and the Park Theatre in north London. Nor did I realise that auditions to get into top drama schools tend to be focused on getting the ‘right’ people on the courses, irrespective of whether this would eventually result in the ‘right’ people for the industry.
There are reasons, too, behind launching an all-encompassing company that looks after both production and casting. In the industry’s continuing strive to do better and better, even the so-called ‘triple threat’ is becoming increasingly commonplace – as is the ‘actor-musician’ – that to stand out from the crowd, a performer would do well to hone their skills in other aspects of a production, such as directing, producing or choreographing, while maintaining their on-stage and on-camera careers.
It is still rare for performers to leave their current agent and join another – I am told the most common reasons for changing agents is that the incumbent has either retired or passed away. But more than one actor at this launch party told me they hadn’t even spoken to their agent on the phone for months (one for six months, another for ten). What attracted them to R.D Casting, aside from not being sure whether their previous agents would even recognise them anymore (what’s to be worried about trying to revive a working relationship that has practically ceased to exist?), was Michael Moor’s enthusiasm for supporting actors in their own endeavours and allowing their versatility to be displayed on an ever-wider canvas.
As for the performers themselves, Moor was as vibrantly passionate about having them as clients as they were being part of R.D Casting (pronounced simply as ‘red casting’). Grace Russell, for instance, was praised for a constantly engaging demeanour. I could only agree. Now, I’m one of those people that dislikes having their photo taken (there’s one of me with Hadley Fraser and Caroline Sheen taken last year that has never seen the light of day because I look like a thorn between two roses, even if I say so myself), but found the charms of Kerry O’Dowd and Ameer Choudrie quite irresistible. It’s not about the selfies, really. It’s the positivity and passionate response, coupled with the bouncing around of ideas on how these performers can work together on future projects, that leads me to strongly suspect this proactive collective will bring some exciting work for audiences to enjoy.
I’ve seen a number of ‘one night only’ gala concerts and events where actors have sat and been astonished by one another’s performances and achievements. This launch party was no exception (excerpts from a dark comedy called The Woman Who Cooked Her Husband, with R.D Casting’s Julia Savill and Russell Biles, brought the house down). But after the gala, or rather after the after-show party, the performers go their separate ways again. Here, the structure has been put in place to not only fraternise but form teams and alliances, hopefully for years to come. I wish R.D Production and Casting all the very best, and look forward to seeing what the fruits of their efforts in due course.
R.D Production & Casting LTD is launching this January, with two events- a Press Invited Agency Signing Champagne Brunch and a Cabaret Launch Party. This is to celebrate the array of talent it’s signing and to introduce these artists to the press. With an ethos of thinking outside the box, R.D Production & Casting LTD Founder and Managing Director Michael Moor (Former Head of Musical Theatre at Guilford School of Acting), is leading the way, with versatile performers, who are also directors, writers and producers.