The casting of this play is very specific. The ethnicity of each character must match the ethnicity of the performer. The trans and gender non conforming characters must be played by performers of trans experience. It is completely acceptable to cast trans and gender non conforming performers in the cisgender roles.
Here's the full breakdown:
MAMA DARLEENA ANDREWS. 67. African American. Male-to-Female Transwoman. A former nurse, Chicago born and raised. She is of a certain era now long gone. She somehow manages to be classy and charming even in six inch gator skin heels. She’s got class and she’s got sass, both in equal proportions. And opinions, she’s got those too. She’s not afraid to tell it how she sees it. Retired now, she could use a little community of her own, and she thinks the tacky, uncouth kids at the Center could benefit quite nicely from her company.
D. Late 30’s. Any ethnicity. The administrator of Youth Programs at the Center. D’s gender assignment at birth was female, but now claims no gender, and uses They-pronouns. They care deeply about the kids at the Center, but are also swamped down in the politics of the organization. D is super vocabularied, highly studied and grad-schooled. A social worker steeped in queer theory and good intentions.
ARIELA. 33. Puerto Rican American. Male-to-Female transwoman. She is a stunning woman. What she lacks in conventional good taste, she makes up for in natural beauty. No high school education, Ariela has spent most of her life turning tricks on the streets of Boystown, and she knows how to take care of herself. A definite chip on her shoulder about being lumped into this group with so many kids, still she attends Mama’s Charm Class voluntarily, mostly to see Mama. She has a vicious tongue, and don’t you dare cross her. There’s a reason she’s still alive after more than twenty years on the street. She survives. She’s recently made an active decision to turn her life around, and is in the process of getting out of The Life, and making healthier choices.
JONELLE. 19. Pronounced “John L.” Any ethnicity, not white. More comfortable expressing herself in feminine terms, Jonelle is a male-bodied person who wears women’s clothing (quite well), and uses “She” pronouns. She’s experimenting with her gender expression, and hasn’t yet landed on one over the other, if in fact she plans to at all. She’s smart –sometimes flaunts it – and is currently finishing her first year at a community college in Uptown. Dry, sardonic, already over it. She comes from a rough background, but finally found her way into a supportive foster home that helped her get out of a bad situation. Now her life is on track, but she can “turn street” at the drop of a hat, and gladly. Over the course of this play, she’ll start to discoverer that she’s a natural nurturer/caregiver.
VICTORIA. 23. African American. Heterosexual, cisgender female. Overweight. Homeless. Mother of two young kids who live with her grandma. She’s kind, gregarious, energetic, and generous even though she has nothing. In a relationship with her babydaddy, Donnie. She isn’t bright, but she’s loyal and a hard worker. Victoria is overweight and has trouble with hygiene. Victoria will always put other people’s needs before her own, to a fault.
DONNIE. 21. African American. “Mostly” heterosexual, cisgender male. Homeless. Victoria’s babydaddy. He has no education or job and no desire to change his situation. Defensive and overly sensitive, he can dish it out but can’t take it. Mostly, he dishes it out to Victoria. Donnie is threatened by anyone he perceives is trying to show him up. Likes to clown around.
BETA. 20ish. African American. Male-identified. Nobody knows that he is a transman (female-to-male). A gangbanger. Thuglife from head to toe. Dresses all in black with dark sunglasses a permanent fixture on his face. He’s quiet and mysterious, the last flame in a scorched field. A dark mystery to most people. His intentions for coming to Charm are unclear, but his history of violence and his association with danger are well known to everyone.
LADY. Early 20’s. Any ethnicity. A Female-identified person. Assigned a male gender at birth, Lady is having a really hard time expressing her gender to the world successfully. Her long hair is confounded by the fact that she is going rather quickly and badly bald on top in a typically “male” way. She’s not conventionally attractive, and has trouble sifting through the Goodwill bin to find something that helps her male-shaped body look remotely feminine. Lady is a person living with autism as well as other undiagnosed illnesses. She has run away from her assisted-living situation in another state to come live in some awful, public housing for people with mental disabilities on the far West Side of Chicago. She has no friends, no family, and nowhere to go outside of her public housing and the Center.
LOGAN. 18. Any ethnicity. Cisgender gay male, but very androgynous. A pretty kid. Comes from money and privilege and reeks of it. He’s been told he is smart. A lot. He’s lacking in charm in his own myopic way, but he recognizes on some inexplicable level that he belongs in Mama’s Charm School. At the same time, there’s almost nowhere he could possibly be more out of place.