It’s no secret that everyone and his brother, sister, aunt and uncle feel that they have the knack for producing children’s Musical Theater. With so many publishing houses out there producing mini versions of some of Broadway’s biggest hits, providing a “how to” and robust director’s manual and prerecorded tracks to the show’s songs, everyone is jumping on the band wagon and offering summer productions for kid’s ages 5-15 years old. However, it is very important to realize that it takes much more than a script, a bunch of students, and hall to produce truly great children’s theater!
There are definitive areas of producing a musical with kids that will make a show simply mediocre or make a show simply spectacular. These areas are as follows: Quality Casting; Strong direction; Scenic Design and Construction; Lighting Design; sound design; costume design; a quality performance venue, Publicity and Marketing.
The reason I mention quality casting is because it is here lays your most important task. In my 25 years as an Artistic Director, I’ve always said, “Casting can be your best friend! It can make your job as a director a pure joy or a living hell!” And it is so true. If you cast the wrong child in the lead, a great set, costumes and lighting design will not save your show. It is for this reason that time and careful planning and thought should be given to the casting of each role, especially the leads. With casting in mind, always planning ahead and casting a double or understudy is a wise and prudent thing to do should your first choice fall ill or fall out of a tree a week before your show opens. After all, we are speaking about kids here!:-) Of course, going hand in hand with strong casting is your job as the theatrical producer to hire a top-knotch director. Without an iron-clad experienced director, you ruin the risk of the show not having a strong flow or semblance.
The next crucial thing to think about is your rehearsal process. Where will rehearsals be? A Church, a school, a hall? How many days per week? Hours per day? Will the rehearsal process last 8, 10, or 12 weeks? Once this is determined a solid rehearsal schedule can be put together and distributed among the students.Read More