So you want to put on a musical, but how much will it cost and where to start? Remember anything is possible, but best to be realistic about costs right at the start so you can budget well and plan fund-raising if necessary.
The musical itself can cost up to $40,000 to hire and obtain the performing rights. Yes, you read correctly!! A top show can be pricey but don’t despair there are plenty less well-known but excellent musicals that will cost a lot less and often allow you to make a profit for your school as well.
Here is a list of most of the items you need to cost realistically before you start. You may be able to think of more so don’t under-estimate and allow a little more, just in case.
- The musical – even a cheap one can cost several hundred dollar to obtain, including copying rights. If you need orchestral/band parts whis will more than double the cost.
- Allow for performance royalties, which are dictated by the publisher. Although these are usually paid after the show and can come out of box office takings, this cost needs to be listed.
- Where will the musical be staged? There may be hall hire fees for the performances and rehearsals.
- Sets and props – even with talented volunteers there will be material costs etc.. plus any rentals required. Cost correctly, don’t guess.
- Costumes – hire or make? At the very least there will be costs for materials.
- Hire of instruments, musicians, sound equipment, technicians, lighting.
- Printing of programmes, posters and tickets. There may also be design costs.
- Cost of on-the-night refreshments. Food and drink will have to be bought. How will it be funded?
- Unexpected and easily forgotten extras eg. postage for publicity and ticket sales, insurance, outside professional help.
Now you have a budget and have allowed for the unexpected, before you frighten the school management, think of ways to cover these costs. Here are some givens and possibilities.
- Estimate ticket sales. Try to be conservative. You need to think of the worse possible scenario. If you intend to have donation performances cost as zero. What is a fair price for seats?
- Try a publicity campaign to encourage sale of seats. Try to sell as many tickets as possible before opening night. Aim to sell at least 70% of seats for each night.
- Is there a school budget for musicals/entertainment which will give you a starting fund?
- Fund-raising activities? Plan well in advance.
- On the night – sale of programmes, refreshments.
- Ask for donations of help, props, costumes etc.
A big component for the success of a musical is enthusiasm. If you get the whole school community behind you, the enthusiasm will lead to much help and fund-raising opportunities.
I hope this helps to get you thinking about putting on a school musical. Yes it is a lot of work, but the rich experience for all involved will hopefully live in the memory for years to come. Good planning now will ensure this.