How Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Eventually Led Casting Director Chad Murnane to Theatre | Playbill

How Did I Get Here How Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Eventually Led Casting Director Chad Murnane to Theatre

The founder of Murnane Casting also offers advice to actors auditioning in person and on tape.

Chad Murnane Graphic by Vi Dang

Casting director Chad Eric Murnane took a leap this past March. The agency he worked for, Binder Casting, was shutting its doors, and he was about to be out of a job. So Murnane went off on his own and launched an independent, and boutique casting office, Murnane Casting, in Manhattan. The company serves projects nationwide in theatre, film, and television.

Among the projects Murnane worked on from previous casting offices are the Hollywood Bowl Into the Woods, Off-Broadway's Emojiland, Anne of Green Gables at Goodspeed Musicals, and Did You See What Walter Paisley Did Today? at La Mirada Theatre, along with national and international tours of My Fair Lady, The Sound of Music, Tootsie, and The Color Purple. In TV, Murnane worked on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows and Paramount's reboot of Friday the 13th.

In the interview below for the Playbill series How Did I Get Here—spotlighting not only actors, but directors, designers, musicians, and others who work on and off the stage to create the magic that is live theatre—Murnane shares his journey to casting productions in New York and around the world, his passion for the casting process, and advice for both aspiring casting directors and auditioning actors.

What made you decide to become a casting director?
Since a young age, I have been drawn to the art of creative matchmaking and the challenge of assembling the perfect cast for a musical. What began as a fun hobby gradually became a passion, and I realized that it was something I could pursue professionally. I find it incredibly rewarding to be involved in the process of bringing a production to life by finding the right group of artists to make the words come to life. Casting has the power to shape the entire production, and being a part of that process is what fuels my passion for this industry.

What do you consider your big break?
For many years, I worked as a freelance casting professional in New York City but struggled to find an opportunity that would allow me to advance in the field. My big break came when I applied for a casting assistant position in Los Angeles for the film Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, produced by Paramount Pictures. At the time, I was still living in New York and had never considered moving to the West Coast, but I saw this as a chance to make a big leap forward in my career. I had a Zoom interview followed by an in-person interview just 48 hours later, and I was thrilled to be offered the job. Lisa Fields and Johnny Barba, who gave me the opportunity, played a pivotal role in launching my career, and I will always be grateful to them for taking a chance on me.

How did Murnane Casting come about?
After working as a casting associate for Lisa Fields for three years, I wanted to return home to New York City. Jay Binder and I had been in touch for years, and one day in October of 2017, he finally reached out to offer me a position as a casting director on his team. Jay had been a friend for years, and I had always looked up to him and his career. Within a few days, I had accepted the job offer and was committed to moving my husband and I across the country. I worked with Binder Casting for almost six years until the company closed in 2023. Although it was a sad time, I was grateful to have been a part of the Binder Casting legacy. When the company closed, I saw it as an opportunity to start my own casting office, Murnane Casting. Two months later and counting, Murnane Casting is thriving, and I feel incredibly fortunate to have started this new chapter in my career thanks to Jay Binder (and Lisa Fields) for making it all possible.

Tell me about a job/opportunity you really wanted but didn’t get. How did you get over that disappointment?
There have been many instances in my career where I've been excited about a job or opportunity, but ultimately didn't get it. It can be tough to handle the disappointment and not take it personally, especially when you've put yourself out there during the interview process.

However, I always try to focus on the positives and the things I've learned throughout the experience. Each interview and opportunity are a chance to grow and improve, even if it doesn't result in a job offer. I remind myself that rejection is not a reflection of my worth or abilities, but rather a natural part of the industry.

To cope with the disappointment, I try to stay resilient and maintain a positive outlook. I also make sure to keep my eyes open for new opportunities and stay proactive in pursuing my career goals. It's important to remember that each closed door is an opportunity for a new one to open, and that there are always fresh chances waiting around the corner.

Overall, I believe that perseverance and positivity are key for me to overcoming setbacks and building a sustainable career in this industry.

What advice would you give your younger self or anyone starting out?
My advice would be to be patient and persistent. Success doesn't happen overnight, and it takes time to build a substantial career in this tough industry. But if you have a deep passion for what you do and are willing to put in the hard work, you will get there. Don't be afraid to put yourself out there, network as much as possible, and build meaningful relationships with industry professionals. Be open to all kinds of opportunities and never say no to a meeting, even if it doesn't seem like it will lead to anything significant. You never know where a conversation or connection can take you in the future. And most importantly, always stay true to yourself and your values. This will guide you through tough decisions and challenging moments in your career.

Skylar Astin and Sutton Foster in Into the Woods

What is your proudest achievement in your profession?
One of the most thrilling moments of my career was receiving the email to cast the Hollywood Bowl's production of Into the Woods [in Los Angeles]. I was beyond ecstatic and knew that this would be one of the biggest opportunities of my career. The excitement only grew as I assembled an incredibly talented and star-studded cast for the production [which included Sutton Foster, Sierra Boggess, Patina Miller]. Although it was a lengthy process that took us almost six months to finalize, every moment was both exhilarating and exhausting in the best way possible. The creative collaboration and passion that everyone brought to the project kept me going and made the experience truly unforgettable.

Finally seeing the show come to life on stage was an unforgettable moment that I will always cherish. The audience's positive response was overwhelming, and knowing that our hard work paid off was incredibly gratifying. The Hollywood Bowl's production of Into the Woods remains my proudest achievement as a casting director. It was a testament to my skills and experience, but more importantly, it was a collaboration that brought out the best in everyone involved.

For actors auditioning for the stage, what is one piece of advice you would give for those auditioning in person and one for those auditioning on tape?
When it comes to auditioning in any medium, my advice is to really focus on being prepared. It's important to understand that preparation can differ from person to person. Discover what works best for you in terms of getting fully prepared. As I always say, "Preparation equals confidence—and confidence owns the room." When you walk into the audition room fully prepared, you'll have the opportunity to shine. And, remember, leaving the room knowing you gave it your all is a victory. That's what a successful audition looks like to me.

Now, let's talk about in-person auditions. My advice? Be off book. Being completely prepared and knowing your lines will help you be fully present in the room. You want to be open to receiving adjustments from the creative team, being able to process and incorporate them into your audition. If you're glued to the sides, it becomes hard to be flexible and fully engaged. So, make sure you give yourself the freedom to play and be in the moment!

For auditions on tape, everything I mentioned earlier still applies. Additionally, there are some technical aspects to consider, like making sure you follow the recording and submission directions meticulously. I get it, we're asking you to not only prepare your materials but also take on the roles of a producer, editor, and engineer. It's a lot, I know. To make it easier for actors, I provide detailed instructions on what to prepare, how to prepare it, and how I want to receive submissions. My goal is to minimize any guesswork and make the process smoother. I know actors already have to juggle so much and face various obstacles, so I do my best to provide as much help as possible.

Oh, and don't hesitate to ask the casting team any questions you may have. I'd much rather you reach out and ask than have to hunt you down and request a re-tape. Communication is key, and I'm here to help you put forth your best audition.

Production Photos: Into the Woods at the Hollywood Bowl

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