If you’ve never had any experience in organising a children’s musical before, it can be very daunting. Especially if you find yourself thrust into the role without any previous stage or musical experience. To help you out, here is a check list that we’ve compiled from many years experience of organising children’s musicals, nativity plays and class assemblies:
1) SCRIPTS & CDs
- Listen carefully to all the songs. Try to learn every song yourself.
- Read through the script CAREFULLY and make any appropriate changes (Remember that ALL of our products come with editable scripts… please use them).
- Arrange speaking or singing roles for every child who wants a part.
- Print off enough copies of the script for every performer, with a few spare. Know where you’ve saved your original.
- Decide if you are going to use the backing music CD, or use a pianist, or a live band. Our advice when organising a children’s musical as opposed to an adult performance is to always use a backing CD. This way, you can guarantee that the music will be consistent for every rehearsal and every performance. Consistency is something that children really need when learning and performing songs, in order for them to excel. However, we appreciate that there are also many compelling arguments for using live musicians. Therefore, we hope to discuss this argument in more detail through a future blog post. But for now, we will continue this particular article by assuming that you will be using a backing CD.
- Make one copy of your backing music CD: Yes we are one of the only children’s musical publishing companies that allows its customers to make ONE copy of any CD purchased from us. If you require further copies, more back-up CDs are available from us for just £8 each.
- Order rehearsal CDs if necessary: We sell low-priced rehearsal CDs (£14 for a pack of 4, with discounts available for larger volumes – please contact us for details). If you have a small cast you could buy each child a CD each to take home to listen to over and over. Or if you have lots of classes in school, why not buy each class a CD to play during their tidy up time? PLEASE REMEMBER that making multiple copies of any CD purchased from us is illegal. We DO allow the purchasing establishment to make ONE copy of any CD purchased from us for back up purposes only, but if you require extra copies, then please buy them from us.
- Auditions: check each child’s reading and acting skills as well as their singing and possibly dancing skills.
- Cast all main roles, walk on roles AND UNDERSTUDIES.
- Cast stage-hands make sure each one has clearly defined roles.
- Cast lighting technicians and sound technicians if appropriate.
- Arrange who will be responsible for scenery, costumes and make up.
3) SCHEDULE DATES
- Arrange the dates / times / venues of every rehearsal and stick to your plan. Let EVERYONE involved know the arrangements.
- Arrange the dates / times / venues of dress rehearsal and main performances. Let EVERYONE know.
4) PLAN EACH REHEARSAL
- AIM: What do you want to achieve from this rehearsal. Which songs / sections of the script are you going to tackle.
- INTRO: Clearly relate to the children the aim of this rehearsal session. Use plenty of praise and encouragement.
- MAIN SECTION: Have set goals and stick to them. Possibly involve other adults to take various groups away to rehearse various sections with them, so you’re not doing it all yourself.
- CONCLUSION: Always congratulate the children. List what they need to practice before the next rehearsal.
5) COSTUMES & PROPS
- List costumes & props required for every character.
- List the people who will help to make the costumes / props. Give them clearly defined roles and deadlines so there is no misunderstanding.
- Organise a costume fitting session well in advance; DON’T leave it till the day of the dress rehearsal!
- Remember to have lots of safety pins ready for on the night as there is always at least one costume that manages to get torn somehow!
6) MAKE UP
- Seek parental permission for every child who will wear make up (As some children can have allergic reactions to some face paints).
- Source suitable non-toxic face paint and order it in plenty of time.
- Assign roles to the people who will be applying the face paint, well in advance, so they have time to practice if necessary.
- If you are using the ready-made PowerPoint scenery that comes with all our products, then assign the job of ‘PowerPoint technician’ to a suitably qualified person. Make sure they have all the equipment they need (laptop/projector/screen). Ensure the equipment and wires won’t interfere with the performers.
- If you are making your own scenery, then assign clearly defined roles and deadlines.
- If you are somehow swapping scenery through the production then have a trial run before the dress rehearsal.
8) LIGHTING / SOUND
- Ensure you have all microphones / speakers / CD players / lights working well in advance of the dress rehearsal.
- Prepare scripts for lighting and sound technicians highlighting changes they need to make at certain times in the play.
- Give lighting and sound technicians a chance to practice with the cast in advance of the dress rehearsal.
- Always have spare CD players / cables / mikes / batteries / bulbs available just in case.
9) STAGE HANDS
- Assign roles for moving props and scenery off and on stage, give each stage hand a script highlighting their involvement.
- Assign roles for helping children with quick costume changes if necessary.
- Give stage-hands a chance to practice with the cast before the dress rehearsal.
- Assign a responsible adult to supervise the children who are backstage during the performance.
- Make sure you’ve purchased your performance licence. For further details please click here.
- If you’re recording the show to make and sell DVDs then you need to buy a recording rights licence. For further details please click here.
11) TICKETS & PROGRAMMES
- Print and distribute / sell tickets. On each ticket make sure to include:
a) The title of the children’s musical
c) Venue (even if the venue seems pretty obvious)
d) Whether seats are numbered or available on a first come first served basis
e) Door opening times
- Print programmes to hand out on the door. Include:
a) The title of the children’s musical, along with the name of the writer / composer
b) Cast list
c) Title and order of each song
d) Credits and thank you’s
e) Adverts if appropriate
12) ORGANISING YOUR AUDIENCE
- Before your children’s musical begins, make the following announcements:
a) Welcome and thank you for coming.
b) General fire safety announcements.
c) Please switch off all mobile phones (not on silent mode as they can interfere with sound equipment).
d) Possibly organise a supervised crèche facility in an adjoining room for young children / babies. Encourage parents to try to leave their children in there so that they don’t disturb the show. You could possibly also set up a live video feed so that parents who have to temporarily visit the crèche don’t miss anything.
13) ORGANISE YOUR THANK YOU’S
- After the last show, carefully make a list of all the people who deserve a special thank you and have some appropriate gifts / flowers ready to give them in order to publicly say thank you.
14) AFTER SHOW PARTY
- They do it in professional performances, why not do it after your children’s musical performance! The children deserve it for all their hard work!
So that’s our 14 steps for organising a children’s musical. There is just one more VERY important thing to add… HAVE FUN!