Musical Theatre Diaries Pt. 1 – Why do a Musical?

Every November we stage a musical production across the Windsor Upper Schools. It is a collaborative project with the Drama department and we work together to pull off the show. I know that a number of schools put on musicals every year, but I am aware that if you are just starting out in a new school and you have never put a show on before you might need some advice. Over the coming weeks I will be blogging about our production so that you can follow along. You might want to ask questions or enquire as to what we do here and there  – please do ask away and I am more than happy to offer advice and support. I have been involved in a number of productions over the years and I guess the main thing to remember is that it isn’t all about the show itself but all the bits and bobs that operate alongside the show – tickets, bar, seating plans, costume etc etc. My involvement in our shows isn’t just to conduct the orchestra and teach the singing. I like to immerse myself in the whole production and I very much work with the drama staff to pull it off – we are a team. I hope that these diaries help you and maybe even inspire you to put on a musical.

So why bother in the first place? That is probably a good place to start. Here are my top 5 reasons to put on a show:

  1. It brings together the entire school in one magical week of entertainment.
  2. It is an amazing marketing tool for the school. Hundreds of people on the site enjoying great music and drama for an evening.
  3. It gives students of all abilities a chance to be involved in something that will not only give them a great week on stage, but will teach them so much about the art of performing
  4. It brings together other departments in the school – our business studies department and students work with us on all of the ticketing and marketing
  5. It can potentially raise money for the music/drama department and help build infrastructure within the school.

This year we are staging Beauty and The Beast. Choosing a show is always the first thing you have to do and the main things I look at are:

  1. Size of cast
  2. Number of principle parts
  3. Will it sell – will people want to come and see it
  4. Do I like the music and is the story good
  5. What are other schools in the area doing

It is important to choose the right show and of course you then need to get in touch with the licensing company to see if you are allowed to do it. In the case of Beauty it was http://www.mtishows.co.uk.

So the show is chosen and the next job is to announce it to the students. I always make a big deal of this, although often it gets leaked some how! But it is fun to build up the anticipation and make it an exciting reveal. This launch event took place a few weeks back. At this gathering I made sure I had all the information for auditions and rehearsals. Dates are really important and I make sure students understand that we have a short window to pull of the show and so commitment is key. I let them know all they need to know about auditions and these are going to be happening in just one weeks time. I will blog again about how I approach auditions because I believe that is an important part of the process.

If you have never done a musical before or you are thinking about doing one, then why not start by looking at a load of shows to see what the possibilities are. Ask me if you want to get my thoughts or advice and ask colleagues. It is important to think about it well in advance and find out if the rights are available etc. But for now just start looking at options. If you have started your show already then keep reading this blog over the coming weeks as there might be things of use.

Musicals are amazing! They really do change the landscape of a music department. Get it right for your school and students and you will reap the benefits. I certainly am and I wouldn’t want to go a year without one!

Beauty & The Beast – 21st – 24th November 2017, Windsor Boys’ School Main Hall. 

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