Musical theatre workshops and productions

Blog 10 – A Producer’s way to create a musical


I know a lot of composers, and I know how they go about creating a show.  They get an idea and they write the script, build songs.  And they look forward to the day they’ll see their show “live.”  But until that day, it’s their “baby,” and theirs alone.

As a producer, I am creating NUMBERS N3RDS differently. You might find this alternative process helpful.

  • I started by selecting a composing team to work with. Although I have an artistic background, no producer can substitute for the artistic talent of the creators.  So I searched far and wide, till I found a wonderful team: librettist, lyricist, and composer.composers
  • Intermittent goals – My business background tells me that it helps to set short term goals. In three months, for example, we want four songs and the dialogue to weave them together.
  • Then — what’s most important — at each of these target points, we hold private readings, with only the composing team and me as audience. working on one of the opening numbersI hire actors to read the show as written so far – speaking the dialogue and singing the songs.  All of us learn amazing things that lead to immediate changes:  The librettist makes cuts and additions.  The lyricist hears what rhymes work, which lyrics are clear and which just go by too fast.  The composer sees where a key change or new harmonies will help.  We try alternatives on the spot.  And then we invite the actors to comment: What do they know about their character?  What needs clarification or expansion …. Or deletion!

In the process of creating NUMBERS N3RDS, we have now moved through this process three times: goals leading to readings.  My composing team has worked together before, but they’ve never had the luxury of “seeing” their work along the way.  This time, though, they are able to nurture the work, refine it, adjust it – even enjoy it! – every step of the way.  And I am thrilled with what they are creating.

Well, that’s a producer’s way.  Join us on this journey.  Any thoughts?  I would love to hear them.  Any advice?  Need that as well.

Larry Little


Stephen Cole

February 4, 2016 at 7:35 pm

Hi Larry, All that you are doing is certainly helpful for the process, but as someone who has done this many times with different collaborators, producers, theatre, directors, etc. the key is always having a real audience.
At first that can be 5 good friends, but ultimately and sooner rather than later, you need regular people who will either laugh or not, applaud or not…etc. Then and only then do you know what you have. Dive in after you have a whole act and do an invited reading. If you can afford it, do several.
Of course actors are not that cheap, but they must be the best you can get. You want to know that anything not happening is because of the material and not because someone is miscast or inadequate, (and boy, does that happen).

    Larry Little

    February 5, 2016 at 1:18 am

    Great idea…actually, that is the plan going forward…..You are great…thanks for the insight. I love chatting with such a successful composer.

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