A passion project since 2016
Hey, I'm Daniel. I'm a web developer by trade and I built Cast98 in 2016 when my wife Alyssa put her foot down about it. She was tired of listening to me whine about the paper-based auditions process in community theatres, so when I got frustrated after answering the same 12 questions on the same audition form in the same musty waiting room for the hundredth time, she put me on a schedule, gave me a deadline, and told me not to pester her about it anymore.
In my spare time, I am an avid musical theatre performer who discovered my passion for being on stage late in life. It was in 2007 as a senior in college that I appeared as "Jimmy" in my first musical, Thoroughly Modern Millie. I was hooked, and over the next 10 years I performed in at least four shows a year.
Every local theatre company I joined, I found the same old paper audition form that asked all the same questions with very little variation from one to the next. I'd pull out my phone to make sure I got all the conflicts out of my Google Calendar, and then spend up to 15-20 minutes trying to remember every conflict and filling out those ridiculous short essays about my acting experience.
You know what I'm talking about.
The first week's schedule would always be sent a couple days after the cast list was finished, but the full rehearsal schedule was never finished for a couple weeks after auditions. It was hard with a cast of 60+ people to search through hundreds of spreadsheet rows for rehearsals that were relevant to me.
I occasionally missed rehearsals simply because I had overlooked my name or ensemble assignment in the spreadsheet, or because I had copied it wrong on my own calendar app, or because I had looked at an old version of the schedule (as we all know, a new version is sent out every... single... week!).
It was hard with a cast of 60+ people to search through hundreds of spreadsheet rows for rehearsals that were relevant to me. Every local actor, ever
As the schedule evolved over time, I would eventually forget what conflicts I marked at my audition and had no way to verify whether they were known or not, since my audition form was handed over to the stage manager and probably recycled soon thereafter.
Finally in 2015, a director friend who was exasperated by the expensive theatre software she bought and hated exclaimed to me, "You should make a website that makes scheduling large casts easy. Everything on the market now is crap."
Honestly, friends make these suggestions to me regularly because they know I build websites for a living, but this time the seed was planted because I already loathed all those paper audition forms. If directors found scheduling to be as big of a hassle as the actors, there must be a real need.
I'm very proud of what Cast98 has become. It started out very slow and very painful to use. The first show that used it had 102 cast members, and the server couldn't handle the load.
Now, Cast98 is automating bothersome logistics and easing the burden for directors and stage managers who would otherwise still be wasting a ton of time entering cast conflicts by hand into a spreadsheet.
It started out very slow and very painful to use. The first show that used it had 102 cast members, and the server couldn't handle the load. Sorry about that, brave beta testers
Even more than the directors, I hear raving feedback from actors who are excited they can submit their audition form from their phone and filter the rehearsal schedule to see "just mine". Their favorite feature is, of course, the ability to export their rehearsals to any calendar app with just a click.
It always makes me chuckle when I go to an audition nowadays and overhear someone who doesn't know I built it say something like "It's so nice I can do this on my phone." Millenials, ya know?
Actors' favorite feature is, of course, the ability to export their rehearsals to any calendar app with just a click. It's the little things
Some of my favorite feedback, though, has been from the grateful parents of young children who are thrilled that they can manage all their kiddos from one master account. There's nothing more rewarding to me than having people use, be helped by, and even enjoy a thing that I built.
Now, my wife is celebrating with me every day when I review the new shows that have been posted. She is excited because she knows that this project has been a really special one for me, and I look forward to continuing to improve it for many, many years to come.
Creator of Cast98