Dallas Townsend - CBS News Radio Anchor
Mr and Mrs HW Glenn Senior - John's parents
Dr and Mrs Caster - Annie's parents
Ensemble B - Matrix for role distribution
Louden Wainwright - Life Magazine
Henri Landwirth - Space Cake
Cake Chef and baking hands
Tracking Station Operators - Ship & Shore
President Kennedy (voice-over)
Press & CBS News reporters
Reverend Frank Erwin
Total Cast No:16-36+
Three (3) main: John, Annie and Townsend, the CBS radio anchor.
Seven (7) in support: This is a traditional core cast, with a balance of distributed lines for most players.
School Education & Community Productions
For schools that might desire full class participation, the cast can be expanded up to 36+ roles. The cast has a balanced-gender (i.e. equal numbers) participation.
Ensemble B : Matrix
In Act 1, there is a kitchen scene, whereby a replica cake of the capsule is being baked to celebrate Glenn's return. (This actually occurred. On 23 February 1962 a cake was delivered in a 'cold truck' and served to 2000+ personnel in the NASA Astronauts hanger).
By Act 1 end, the cake scene with the ensemble of 10, conclude the bake. It makes practical sense, that in Act 2, they would change and return as NASA pre-launch officials and so forth. In Act 3, some would play the tracking station operators. In Act 4-5 on splashdown, some would re-appear as the press reporters. This ensemble can be a group of 10 actors; each being assigned 4+ appearance's over the 5 Acts (i.e. 10 actors may make 40+ appearances per the Matrix Chart below. Sometimes they will have lines, sometimes not.)
This offers excellent challenges. Costuming (from a bakers hat and tunic in Act 1) to a blue lab cap and jacket with a NASA badge in Act 2, demonstrates costume changes are not necessarily onerous, or expensive either. There is humour to be had if this is done transparently, by allowing the audience to know it is being invited to watch the 'theatre sport' of the ensemble making the simple costume and character changes. This can feature in the programme and through a narrator at the start of the performance if desired.
With commercial productions, budget tends to mandate cast minimisation. To this end, the cast matrix for Ensemble B, sets out how 'doubling' is used to distribute the ensemble roles to fit a specific budget or stage size. This is an historic, epic story that required thousands of humans on an industrial level, to make the MA-6 flight possible. So 'doubling' is an important feature of the design, in telling the story.
Ensemble B Role Matrix
ACT 1 Sc1
CBS News 1
ACT 1 Sc 5
Bench Hand 1
Bench Hand 2
Medical Officer 1&2
NASA Officer 1&2
R. Kennedy (V.O.)
Tracking Op 1&3
Tracking Op 2&4
G. Cooper Op 3&6
Muchea Op 4
Woomera Op 5
Steelhead Op 6
NASA Officer 1
Cap Com 1
Cap Com 2
CBS News 1
CBS News 1
CBS News 2&3
For further economy, some lines can be delivered as a simple voice-over live via a mike off-stage or a pre-recorded (V.O.) line.