As I shuffle out of the hotel lobby in the early hours of a crisp autumn morning in Albany, the anticipation of the day’s events have me feeling anxious, intrigued and most importantly, warm. My heavily-thinned Florida blood isn’t nearly as tolerant to chilly temps as it used to be during my formative years in Connecticut. These 40-degree temp and thick morning fog have a much heavier effect on me these days. The “Meet the Pros” party that I attended last night has robbed me of some rest and has necessitated a handful of Advil, but nevertheless, this day will be our first foray into the casting process of Big Break Sandals Resorts. The cool, damp morn in New York’s state capital will also mark the first time I’ll be making an appearance at a Duramed FUTURES TOUR event in over two years. Being a longtime producer of Big Break, along with the “Game On” series with Ashley Prange, I’ve made a lot of friends out on that tour. So, it’s fully understandable that the introduction of Advil to my morning routine was most definitely an inevitable one.
At this stage of the pre-production process, Big Break Sandals Resorts is still in its infancy. Only a few challenge concepts have been conjured up. I have yet to see, in person, where we’ll be shooting the series and am in the midst of pre-production for another show: Destination Golf Hawaii. All that aside though, this September morn marks what I’ve always considered to be the most important part of the Big Break pre-production process: Casting. No matter what crazy challenges we can dream up or exotic locales we can invade, the cast can make or break an entire series.
Upon arriving at the Capital Hills Golf Course shortly after 7:30 a.m., my curiosity/paranoia about how the day’s events will unfold begins to set in. How many girls will show up to audition? Will we end the day with at least a couple possible candidates? It’s a familiar feeling, as I’ve asked myself these questions before every open audition call at a FUTURES TOUR event since the first round of casting for Big Break V (we came out of that one with Ashley Prange, Jeanne Cho, Christina Tucker, Becky Lucidi and Katie Ruhe). Of course, the overriding majority of the time, we end up with a number of solid possibilities, but it still doesn’t stop me from asking these all too familiar questions. And like I stated earlier, it’s been a couple years since I’ve been out to the FUTURES TOUR. Will any of these new faces be interested in what the Big Break has to offer? I know, very neurotic, but hey, this is how my thought process works.
My initial nervousness begins to subside around 7:45 a.m. when our sign-in table begins to become flooded with a number of interested applicants who showed up early just to make sure they got an audition time. An excellent start to what would amount to be one of the best turnouts we’ve ever had for an open audition.
Over the course of the next eight hours, we would audition 70 members of the FUTURES TOUR with around a third of them getting immediate consideration to be part of the next Big Break. To put this in perspective, we usually get around 5-10 people per audition that are considered. In just one audition, we could have filled the next two “ladies only” Big Break casts (Carling Coffing, Ryann O’Toole, Lili Alvarez, Seema Sadekar and Stacey Bieber were selected from this audition). This first audition site really was the beginning of this series. It set the tone for what I consider to be one of the best casts we’ve ever assembled and is one of the many reasons why I’m extremely excited about this series.
My fellow producers (Jon Painter and Chris Graham) and I have taken it upon ourselves to give you a bit of a different perspective on Big Break for this season. This new approach will not only showcase these 11 intriguing personalities to the fullest, but a major goal of ours is to really get you to feel what it was like for these ladies to participate in this one-of-a-kind competition. From the breathtaking tropical surroundings to the extreme intensity of the Elimination Challenge, we’ve covered the action and the drama like no other Big Break.