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musical for very small high school on very small budget

  • 1.  musical for very small high school on very small budget

    Posted 09-12-2017 22:35
    Hi! I am new to this forum, so thanks in advance for your help!

    We are a new high school - only 2 years old, with only 90 9th-11th graders. Next year we'll have about 120 9th-12th graders. Last year we did two amazing productions of Twelfth Night and AntigoneX (by USC playwriting professor Paula Cizmar - highly recommended!). This winter we're doing Almost, Maine.

    Here's the question/problem: My students have been begging me to do a musical. I have been hesitating. None of them have ever done a musical besides a handful who did Lion King in 8th grade. But they are desperate! Every day a group of girls come into the open courtyard singing songs from Annie (Black Annie, actually), West Side Story, Grease, etc - even Teen Beach Movie! I decided to scaffold our way into a musical next year by doing a revue or a small chamber musical this Spring.

    My problems:
    - Though I have been directing professionally for 15 years, I have never ever directed a musical!
    - I have a budget of only $3500 for two productions!
    - I have no theater space and have been renting black box theaters or performing in the "multi use room" of our lower school campus
    - Since I have no budget, I guess I will have to find parent volunteers to be the choreographer and musical directors
    - And the aforementioned lack of experience in the students

    Pluses:
    - A passionate group of about 12-15 students who desperately want to do a musical!

    Thoughts:
    - If I have about 7-8 hard core musical actors, I could do a chamber or low tech musical like Showtune, Triumph of Love, or Songs for A New World
    - If I have only 3-5 strong musical actors, I could do a really small musical like [title of show] by Hunter Bell and Jeff Bowen; Tick, Tick ... Boom by Jonathan Larson and David Auburn; or A Class Act
    - or if I have about 15 students with limited experience who desperately want to do a musical, I could do that revue idea

    Questions:
    - What musical revues are out there? I don't even know where to start! Everything seems so over the place online in terms of revues
    - Is it fun to do a revue? Isn't it more satisfying to have a narrative throughline?
    - What about next year? What would be a fun musical I could do with about 10-12 actors, low budget, low tech, parent volunteer choreographer and musical director?

    Sorry for the long post. But I think you can see what I'm up against (including my own complete lack of musical experience!). Thanks millions!!
    - Arden

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    Arden Thomas
    theater director
    Sequoyah High School
    Pasadena CA
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  • 2.  RE: musical for very small high school on very small budget

    Posted 09-13-2017 07:13
    Maybe look at Playscripts, Emma: The Pop Musical.  My class did this a couple of years ago.  It was not difficult for a starter, much less expensive, and because there is pop music from the 60's to the 2000's in the script, it was fun and familiar for both the kids and the audience.  It also comes with recorded music, which makes rehearsal and performance much easier on the beginner--no pit to assemble!  The music takes some music background to teach, but you may also be able to get away with student choreography.  Best of luck in your search!

    ------------------------------
    Kristen Statt
    Thunderhawk Theater Director
    Lakota East High School
    Liberty Twp, OH
    Kristen.statt@lakotaonline.com
    ------------------------------



  • 3.  RE: musical for very small high school on very small budget

    Posted 09-13-2017 08:01
    I completely understand your position! Here are 3 that worked well for us under similar constraints:
    Dear Edwina, Leader of the Pack, and Little Women. There are also numerous small musicals which come with pre-recorded accompaniment if a small ensemble is hard for you to come by available from MTI. I did Dear Edwina with just piano with ease.
    Good luck!!

    ------------------------------
    Janetta Davis
    Theater Program Coordinator
    Bexley OH
    ------------------------------



  • 4.  RE: musical for very small high school on very small budget

    Posted 09-13-2017 08:17
    I don't know how much the licensing costs would be - but The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee is a relatively small cast - and the set/costumes don't require a lot of specialty items.  Raiding thrift shops or other general items that should be easy to find.

    For a non-traditional performance space - you don't need much - chairs/bleachers for the spellers, a few other minor items for the "adults" to sit at a table, etc.  And in most elementary schools, the spelling bee is actually held in the cafeteria or all-purpose room - so your space issue wouldn't even be an issue. 

    If you decide to do the show (we did it 2 years ago) - we made banners to hang for "the bee" and some "school spirit" banners that you'd see in a school environment, ie. "Go Piranhas" etc.  For a small rental fee/shipping - we could make arrangements to share them.

    With audience members to participate, it would be a great way to pull in community support.  We invited a few key district administrators and teachers to be "celebrity spellers" on certain nights also.  If you want to see photos, send me a separate email.

    Whatever you decide - break a leg!
    Missy





  • 5.  RE: musical for very small high school on very small budget

    Posted 09-13-2017 15:05
    What about Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten?  It's more of a play with music, it's piano accompaniment so easier to get someone to accompany, the choreography is more staged movement than dance, The music is fairly simple so it's no biggie if your singers aren't as strong and it's written for 5 but easily expandable based on the needs.  Plus, its really fun and I think the rights are reasonable.

    ------------------------------
    Laura Steenson
    Theatre Director
    Reynolds High School
    Troutdale OR
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  • 6.  RE: musical for very small high school on very small budget

    Posted 09-14-2017 03:27
    I'm going to jump in and agree with Sarah on All I Need to Know... and then add, How to Eat Like a Child...and Other Lessons in Not Being a Grownup.

    How to Eat...is all about being a kid! It has fun songs, with very simple choreography, and the plus is, you might be able to do some school day performances and boost your ticket sales!

    Wishing you the best!  

    Carolyn

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    Carolyn Cork Greer
    Kentucky Thespians
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  • 7.  RE: musical for very small high school on very small budget

    Posted 09-14-2017 09:59
    I second "How to Eat Like a Child"...

    I used it when I taught on exchange in Australia. The school had not done a musical in years and the Drama program was quite small. It was an excellent start for them.  (And for you, perhaps!)

    Cheers.

    ------------------------------
    Bill Jacobsen
    Drama Teacher / Curriculum Coordinator
    ------------------------------



  • 8.  RE: musical for very small high school on very small budget

    Posted 09-14-2017 09:37
    Try MTI Broadway Jr shows.  Several of which can be done at high school.  They come with a complete package including performance and rehearsal tracks.  

    Also, a great company is TRW (theatrical rights worldwide) and they have several smaller musicals and do the complete package with performance and rehearsal tracks.  

    Both of which are very reasonable.  MTI is more expensive but they have more recognizable titles in their junior series.
    TRW is more user friendly and much cheaper. 

    Another place to look is beat by beat press.  They have some musicals but they are geared for smaller children.  So if you want  TYA shows they are super great to work with.  

    Break a Leg and may all your theatre seats be filled. 


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    Kelly Thomas
    Mesquite TX
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  • 9.  RE: musical for very small high school on very small budget

    Posted 09-14-2017 10:35
    Have you looked at Runaways?

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    Bryce Cahn
    Theatre Arts Teache
    Tompkins Square Middle School
    New York, NY
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  • 10.  RE: musical for very small high school on very small budget

    Posted 24 days ago

    I have an established program that got a bit decimated after COVID lockdowns. I was able to pull of a production of Starkid's Trail To Oregon (the PG-13 version) with a cast of 16 (but you can do it with less). As long as you have a solid family of five, it's a fun show - it was extremely well-received by our audiences of teens.



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    Tara Filowitz
    Teacher (Drama & ELA)
    Valencia High School
    CA
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  • 11.  RE: musical for very small high school on very small budget

    Posted 23 days ago

    I suggest you do a Junior Musical first. They are far less expensive and have everything you need to do your first musical.



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    Hollie Martinez
    Theatre Director
    ACP College Prep
    TXAntonian College Preparatory High School
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  • 12.  RE: musical for very small high school on very small budget

    Posted 17 days ago

    HI I have 2 musical revue shows along with a couple of musicals which will fit your cast requirements. All music is digital and licensed for use. Economical to stage, family fun entertainment. Here is link to musical revue page musicals can be found on musical page. You can read full scripts and listen to all songs on website. https://www.asjustonelife.com/musical-revues



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    Steve Pinkerman
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  • 13.  RE: musical for very small high school on very small budget

    Posted 16 days ago

    I would recommend if you can manage to do a musical, do it. In my experience, musicals always bring in a bigger audience base and oftentimes a bigger actor base. I've been directing high school theatre for over twenty years. We currently do two plays, a set of student directed one acts and a musical every year. Our musical is always the biggest draw for actors, nearly doubling the number of auditioners compared to our plays and it is a way to get singers and dancers more involved in productions that wouldn't normally audition for a straight play (and once they get the acting bug they typically audition for other plays as well). People love musicals and, here to, our audience is always double (or more) what our plays bring in. I firmly believe musicals are a great way to grow your program in so many ways.

    If you decide to do a full musical you may want to check out You're a Good Man Charlie Brown and Godspell. I did both of these shows back when we still had a very small budget, small actor base and still performed in the cafeteria. I did utilize volunteers for some of the added production staff positions in the early years too. Both shows have flexible casts so are perfect for a smaller actor base. And both can be done on a minimal budget and neither needs a lot of choreo.  You also may want to check out Little Women. I've never done this musical but I've heard it too is a great small cast show and doesn't take a lot of tech to pull it off.  Another thought might be trying out the Junior versions of some musicals (MTI has many). They are typically geared more towards middle school. However, I've known some smaller high school theatre programs to use these junior versions to introduce musicals to their students/community until they build up a bigger actor base. Junior shows are only and hour long and a lot simpler to produce and the demands are not as great as a full scale musical.

    Good luck!



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    Jillian Lietzau
    Lutheran High School
    CO
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  • 14.  RE: musical for very small high school on very small budget

    Posted 11 days ago