Headed to an audition? It's important to know where you're going. Get a run down of the different casting agencies in Chicago.
Take one more mystery out of the audition process - know where you're auditioning.
Not all casting agencies are the same, so it's important to know what to expect from each casting office. The more you know, the more prepared you'll feel. Preparation is the hallmark of a good actor.
General note: many of these casting offices are reachable by public transportation. If you ever need to drive, a great app to use is ParkChicago for street parking*.
Main Casting Director: Claire Simon
Known for casting most of the "Chicago" shows like Chicago P.D. and Chicago Fire, Simon Casting also helps cast feature films and other TV shows, like the upcoming, Candyman series.
Simon Casting's vibe is professional - it's one of their most frequent reviews on Google - so it's important you are on time and as prepared as possible (as you should be no matter where you go...). But many might argue this isn't the casting office to ask questions about the script in the audition room. Your job as an actor is to audition - so they expect you to have done your homework and deliver. Want to ask how you're being framed? Totally fine.
Simon Casting is located towards the south side of the city - near Lagunitas Brewing Company - and housed within the new Cinespace Film Studio complex. Accessibility by public transportation can be a little difficult and you may have to fight to find parking. Give yourself plenty of time to get there, park, and make it to your audition 10 minutes early.
PR CASTING (aka Paskal Rudnicke Casting)
PR Casting is another distinguished casting agency in Chicago for union and non-union actors. PR Casting casts a lot of commercials as well as films and TV shows. Some recent projects include Widows, Saint Frances, Comedy Central's South Side, and CBS's Red Line.
You might find a little more freedom to ask questions and play with the script at PR Casting. Many actors say the vibe at PR is is down-to-earth and welcoming (keep your eyes peeled for the office dog). Nevertheless, PR has a stellar reputation for bringing in amazing actors. It's up to YOU to deliver that same level of preparedness and professionalism.
PR Casting is located in River North near the Grand/State CTA Red Line stop. A paid parking lot is available across the street ($20/day). Paid street parking is also available - but can be tricky to snag.
**Want audition experience at PR without the high stakes of an actual audition? Check out our workshop at the end of this article.**
O'CONNOR CASTING COMPANY
Main Casting Director(s): David O'Connor, Joan O'Connor, Virginia Anello
O'Connor Casting is most known for its expansive commercial portfolio, but also known for casting voiceover, print, "real-people" commercials/webisodes, and independent films. Make sure to check out their chalkboard wall that encourages you to blast your audition at O'Connor on social media.
Great for union and non-union actors alike, O'Connor casting likes to work with their actors in the audition room; often trying different takes to see what works. Many reviewers comment on how comfortable they were made to feel in front of the camera.
Chicago actors booked such commercials as Discover Card, Turbo Tax, Libtery Mutual, Disney, and more through O'Connor.
Located in the near west side of Chicago with ample paid street parking and a 15-minute walk from the Ashland CTA stop.
KARGE + ROSS CASTING
Main Casting Directors: Christal Karge & Marisa Ross
Located within the i.O. Theatre, Karge + Ross Casting is a favorite among actors to audition at (audition and then an improv show, anyone?) Karge + Ross get a majority of pilots seeking talent nationally. Christal and Marisa are known for their successful outside of Chicago (Marisa Ross helped cast How I Met Your Mother), so they are able to bring in a lot of scripts Chicago actors might not see otherwise. Previous projects include: Chicago Med, The Chi, and Sweet Bitter, and Captive State.
The lobby of this casting office is the lounge area of the theatre - so it's further removed from the audition rooms (don't be afraid when an associate leads you down a hallway...it's safe to follow them!). The space lends itself to actors to move around and rehearse lines out loud without disturbing the casting directors in the room.
The audition rooms at Karge + Ross are a little smaller than at some of the other casting offices. It can feel like the camera and the lights are right up on you. Don't let that deter you. Use your reader, use the space, make the room bigger than it is.
Karge + Ross is a 5-minute walk from the North/Clybourn CTA stop. Parking can be a little tricky - you might have to park a block or two away - so make sure to give yourself time to park and make it to your audition on time!
Main Casting Director: Sarah Clark
Compass Casting might be one of the lesser known casting agencies in Chicago, but it's making a name for itself casting commercial and union/non-union film projects. These include Ulta, Home Chef, BMO Harris Bank commercials (one commercial features 2 ATC team members); and films, Rudderless and August: Osage County.
Another dog-friendly casting agency, Compass Casting has a very family feel, often encouraging actors to try different takes with their sides. (Again, it always helps to be SUPER prepared with your copy, so playing comes naturally.) Many actors comment on its friendly feel in the room and lobby.
Compass Casting recently acquired a new space on N Lincoln Ave, accessible from the Montrose CTA stop, with decent street parking available.
No matter where you're headed: Simon Casting, PR, O'Connor, Karge + Ross, or Compass - any audition would smell as sweet! Remember, getting called in to audition means you've already won one "round" of casting: picked you - yes you - to audition. That's huge!
The more you feel comfortable with where you're audition, the more fun you'll have while you're auditioning. And that's what auditions should be: fun.
Now, go break some legs!
-The ATC Team
*ATC is not affiliated with or sponsored by ParkChicago.
Due to your interest in this article, we recommend the following workshops:
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LOCATED AT PR CASTING: 10 W Hubbard St, Chicago. Get registered HERE.
NO AGENT, NO PROBLEM - With self-tapes becoming more & more commonplace & casting notices being just a Google search away, there is no reason for an actor not to be auditioning. The ATC staff will teach you how to navigate audition sites & how to tape & edit a studio-quality audition from home. For 9th Graders - Adults.
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Article written by Rae Lindenberg