Putting on a musical can be straight forward or really quite involved depending on the scale of the production and experience of the teacher. It is always hard work but can to extremely rewarding for both students and teachers. If you are new to it, start small, or rope in as many people to help as you can. There are a number of good articles and books on the subject if you wish to find out more.
Remember, although putting on a musical may be a good money raiser, it is really about highlighting children’s talents – and it is perhaps a good idea to make sure you have the talent to highlight before you begin! Being in a musical can be a defining moment in a child’s life.
Here is a brief outline of the process to get you started:
1. CHOOSE THE TIME OF YEAR CAREFULLY
You need to start thinking about things well in advance. Many schools plan musicals 12 months in advance. You need to consider the school calendar, availability of staff and support. The most important thing you need is TIME!
2. Research carefully – consider cost, suitable musicals for your school, suitability for your children. Draw up a short list. Most publishers will be able to help you with your choice and allow you to borrow musicals for perusal. This is a great way to get the feel of a musical before committing.
3. When you have researched the feasibility, go public. Get the consent of the head teacher, make a final choice, secure the rights from the publisher and announce the result.
4. Collect together your production team. Make sure your team is fully committed. You will need a musical director, director, choreographer, set manager who is responsible for set design and the building team, costume designer and co-coordinator, lighting and sound crew, backstage and scenery movers, treasurer, publicity manager, and so on. Choose reliable and competent people to organize these areas.
5. Plan a realistic budget with your team. Consider fund-raising.
6. Don’t leave any planning to the last minute. Advertising strategy should be thought through well in advance; consider where the musical will be performed as this will affect the production. Book the hall. How will the music be produced – live band, sound system – plan and make sure of the quality.
7. Consider your children and audition for the main parts. Both singing and acting ability is important. Many schools have more girls than boys wanting to take part – how will you solve this?
8. Hand out scripts to students taking main parts.
9. Plan a rehearsal schedule and start rehearsals. Allow plenty of time for learning the musical.
10. Advertise for chorus members, again allow plenty of time for rehearsals.** Make sure each child has permission to take part in the musical which may mean quite a time commitment with extra out-of-hours rehearsals. Take details of every cast member. Hand out a rehearsal schedule which you have drawn up in consultation with your team and school administration.
11. Check everything is ready well before the first night! The lighting and sound needs rehearsing and should have final checks. Costumes are made and fitted, scenery is finished and stage crew have practised.
12. Tech rehearsal(s): Need to walk everything through a few times to check all elements fit together.
13. One or two dress rehearsals: makes sure everything is right and everyone knows what they are doing.
14. Final dress rehearsal should be 2 days before the show. This allows time to rest the voice and calm the nerves.
15. Opening Night. To make sure the performances all run well you will need lots of parental help to cover all the tasks involved in performance. If organization is good everything will run smoothly and energy will be channeled into the show and it will be a great, enjoyable experience for the children.
16. After the show don’t forget to have a debrief with the children. It can be very interesting and enlightening for all to hear each other’s comments and feelings.
17. Carefully store resources and assess any royalties due to composers. These are usually forwarded through the publisher.