As readers of this blog already know, we are HUGE advocates of musical theatre in schools. But we are also the first to admit that putting on a musical is hard work, especially for the teachers. It is the teacher who is usually expected to be the director, choreographer, stage manager, and producer; all while still being a teacher!
That is why we have asked Kimberly Patterson, the Theatre Arts Teacher and Performing Arts Chair at Oxbridge Academy in West Palm Beach, Florida, to write this series for our Spotlight On Musicals blog.
The series outlines the process of putting on a musical from start to finish, providing helpful tips and maybe even some new ideas. Topics have included:
- Applying for a license with a publisher
- Budgeting and creating calendars
- Assembling your team
- Running rehearsals with a student crew
- Working with your technical theater team
- Managing the house
…and many others. Whether you’re a seasoned producer of school theatre or you’re just starting out and have suddenly been put in charge of it all, this series has something for you.
Thus far, we’ve posted PART 1: Selecting a Show & Securing Performance Rights, PART 2: Creating Your Documents, PART 3: Assembling Your Team, PART 4: Casting, PART 5: First Rehearsal, PART 6: Table Work, PART 7: In Rehearsal, PART 8: Production Decisions, PART 9: The Tech Team, PART 10: Troubleshooting, PART 11: Tech Week, and PART 12: Front of House. Now it’s time for…
PART 13. YOU DID IT!
Congratulations! You’ve opened your musical! Enjoy the production and celebrate with your cast and crew. And then, get back to work!
- Remind actors to hang up their costumes after each show and return their props to the proper location!
- Make sure that backstage areas are clean, trash receptacles are emptied, and restroom facilities are well-stocked.
- Check with the stage manager and tech booth in case anyone needs more batteries or mic tape.
- Stage crew might need to replenish any perishable or consumable props, and they’ll want to reset everything well in advance of the next performance.
- Refill concessions, programs, and tidy up the theater.
- Touch base with the box office to ensure that they have ticketing information for the next performance.
- Reconcile any paperwork from the previous show (receipts, ticket stubs, etc.).
- If you haven’t taken your cast photo, find a time to do it.
- Provide any notes to the performers and tech crew.
- Perform regular mic checks, even if everything went “fine” during the last show.
- Ask stage crew and cast members to do a final walk-through to ensure their props are in their correct pre-sets.
- If someone from the team hasn’t already taken a public moment to express gratitude to the members of the school and the community who’ve assisted the production, do so.
Schedule your cast party! Schedule your strike. Striking the set doesn’t come with the same exclamation point as having a cast party, but it is a necessary step. Require, if you can, the entire cast to be present. Even if they’re not tech savvy or good with tools, there are all sorts of jobs that need doing. It will go faster when everyone pitches in. Plus, there’s no better way to reinforce the camaraderie of the production’s run than seeing it disappear, bit-by-bit. Instant nostalgia.
A post-mortem or “lessons learned” session with the participants could be useful. Whether it’s the entire population, just the design and tech teams, or just the adult participants, this debriefing can highlight successes and help to determine what not to do in next year’s show.
Kimberly Patterson is a two-time graduate of New York University, with an undergraduate degree in Dramatic Literature, Theater History and the Cinema, and a Masters Degree from the Gallatin School. Her program in Individualized Study focused on performance studies, dramatic writing, and technical theater, and her coursework included scenic design, puppetry, and “ritual-as-performance.” She spent more than a decade in New York City working in Off- and Off-Off Broadway theaters in almost every capacity possible. As a playwright, her plays have appeared in the New York International Fringe Festival and the New York Musical Theater Festival; her musical, Oedipus for Kids!, is published by Samuel French and has been produced around the U.S. Kimberly has extensive experience working with educational technology, and has managed online content and curriculum development for McGraw-Hill, ProQuest Education, and Curriki.org. When not working behind the scenes in Oxbridge’s auditorium, Kimberly plays Japanese taiko drums and is a performing apprentice with Fushu Daiko.