Musical theatre workshops and productions

Biggest issue facing theatre directors???

Most you know that I do a lot of research.  I also hire people to help me do the research.  I hope to make decisions based on what I have learned.  Sometimes it pays off big time, others not so.

I had the opportunity to add lots more names to my blog list of high school and college theatre teachers a little while ago.  I met some incredible teachers who told me they had little or nothing to work with but still wanted to do a musical.  I heard from some teachers who were so “fed up” with the complaints from parents and the administration that they were less and less enthusiastic about doing shows. And I also heard from teachers who told me what an honor it was to work with students.  They told me they had such pleasure seeing students return to them after the students graduated and tell them how much musical theatre meant in their life.

So, I did a bit of a research project.  It is unscientific and informal, but I asked them to share with me some of their challenges in producing musicals in middle and high school.  Here is what I learned.

  • Controversial issues – many teachers told me that they could not put on musicals that had any controversial issues in the material. No alcohol, no sex and no cursing.  I get that.  (Gone are the days when I did TEN NIGHTS IN A BARROOM and CABARET in high school)  I even remember hearing about a school district that complained that a poster for MACBETH had a knife on it.  This is challenging, but they do find ways to put on shows anyhow.
  • Gender Bender – Of all of the teachers who I have heard from in the last two years, only one told me they had more boys involved in their theatre department than girls. Every other teacher tells me about how they have to practically beg boys to be in their musicals. (A while ago, I did research that showed that it is about 20-25 girls to every boy who wants to be actively involved in a high school musical.) So….teachers have to get creative about casting.  How about a girl playing Jack in INTO THE WOODS?  Or a girl playing Gavroche in LES MIZ?
  • Live music or tracks – I did a blog about this a while ago – click HERE to read it. Many teachers told me how much they dislike prerecorded tracks.  But often they have no choice but to use them.  I also see that virtually all of the companies that license musicals now offer some version of music tracks for some or most of their shows.

What is your biggest challenge you face when you produce musicals?  Love to hear them.

Larry Little

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