Doing a High School Musical

So you’re school has decided to do a musical. Musicals can be very exciting and
rewarding experiences for both staff and student alike. It’s a great way to teach the
arts to students, and to bring together visual arts, music, drama and dance in a
unique way.

The success of a high school musical will depend mainly on your good planning of
the event. You need to start early. The following is a musical timeline for putting a
typical high school musical together:

(Months/Weeks/Days Before Show):

12 Months:

-Create production team (producer, stage manager musical director)

-Contact rental company.

-Estimate of price.

-Hire a director; negotiate price.

-Meet with school admin.

-Obtain performance venue.

6 Months:

-Production meeting – Chose the show.

-Contact rental company, obtain rights.

-Arrange to obtain piano/vocal score right away.

-Reserve performance venue.

5 Months:

-Announce auditions.

-Hire rehearsal pianist for auditions and rehearsals.

-Choose audition music and make available.

4 and a Half Months:

-Hold auditions/call-backs.

-Choose main characters.

-Post cast list.

-Advertise within school for backstage crew (building sets, paining scenery,
assembling props).

4 Months:

-Read through script with entire cast.

-Props crew: Begin constructing sets.

-Begin onstage and music (singing) rehearsals.

3 Months:

-Form the following committees: Constume/Make up, Publicity/Ticket sales,
Lighting/Sound.

-Contact extra musicians for pit.

9 Weeks:

-Hold pit orchestra auditions.

8 Weeks:

-Begin advertising campaign.

-Cast should now have costumes.

-Post pit orchestra member list.

7 Weeks:

-Begin pit rehearsals

-Optional production meeting (communication between production team and all
committees)

4 Weeks:

-Production meeting – Plan final week of rehearsals, stage use by various teams.

-Acquire necessary permission to excuse students from class for any schedule
conflicts.

-Invite area schools to preview show.

2 Weeks:

-Rehearsal with pit and cast (Sing through).

-Pit rehearsal(s) of dance music with dancers.

-Run-through of show with onstage cast/ piano.

1 Week:

-Props and scenery complete and ready for use.

-Run of scene changes with stage crew.

-Complete run of show with pit orchestra and cast.

5 Days:

-Final pit rehearsal to iron out problem spots.

-Cue-to-cue: work out lighting cues.

4 Days:

-Technical run of show with sound, all props, light cues, scene changes.

3 Days:

-Complete run of show with orchestra. Give notes after run.

2 Days (or day before show):

-DRESS REHEARSAL

(Give one day before public run as a day off, to rest the cast.)

General Advice for Doing Good School Musicals:

Administrative:

1) Delegate! Don’t try to be the onstage director, musical director, producer, chief
bottle-washer, etc. Find as many different people within your school as possible to
fill these roles.

The people you will need, at a minimum:

Director

Music Director

Producer

Stage Manager

Props & Scenery Coordinator

Choreographer

Lighting & Sound Director

Costume Coordinator

Publicity Coordinator

2) Know your venue. Do not plan a musical without knowing where you will be
performing it.

3) Auditions:

-Be good to your students when they come in for their audition. Remember that
many students are doing the first audition of their lives, and are probably terrified.
Set them at ease – be lighthearted and friendly, not austere and demanding.

-Encourage students to sing out with a full voice at the audition.

-Congratulate them after auditioning, and always find something positive to say to
them about how they performed.

4) Onstage:

-Begin rehearsing chorus early in the process. There is a need to get the main
characters’ part of the show worked out early of course, but you will benefit from
the excitement generated by rehearsing chorus early. Chorus numbers tend to be
energetic and exciting, and much momentum can be lost by ignoring chorus at the
beginning of the rehearsal run. Chorus members are very important. They are your
“townspeople”, your various unnamed characters that give vital atmosphere to a
show. Tell chorus members to invent a character name, and to develop a short one
or two-paragraph biography. This will help to eliminate that “onstage furniture”
look that so many high school students have.

-All singers should sing in their character’s voice. If the character speaks with a
southern drawl, he/she should sing with a southern drawl.

-Chorus should sing with eyebrows raised and backs straight.

-A musical theatre voice is a big voice with distinctive character, not a choir voice.
Invite a singing professional to a rehearsal to teach young singers how to safely
project their voice.

5) Miscellaneous Onstage/backstage

-Teach students to never touch props or scenery unless specifically instructed to
do so. This applies even to props that are used by that character. Unless it is show
time or rehearsal time, props should be placed and moved only by backstage crew.

-Onstage characters must be taught to be mindful and respectful of backstage
crew. Backstage crew have an important job to do during runs of a show. The
precise timing of scene changes requires actors to stay out of the way.

-Actors must never appear in house in costume or make-up. During the show’s
intermission, no actors should be meeting public, family or friends.

-Backstage during a show must be very quiet. Actors waiting in wings to make an
entrance must stay well off to the side to prevent being seen until entering the
stage.

-Be sure to tell students to thank any professionals you have invited to perform in
your pit orchestra, or who are involved in other aspects of the show. Point out to the
students how lucky they are to have people donating their time and efforts to their
show.

A musical will provide lifelong memories for you and your students. And it will
provide a unique opportunity to bring together various aspects of the fine arts in
your school. You will also find that musicals will engage people in an artistic
endeavor who might not normally involve themselves in the arts.

Build a Better High School Booster Club by Conducting an Annual Advertising Sponsorship Appeal

If you want to build a better boosters club, raise more money and boost your high schools arts or athletic activity’s success, consider conducting or expanding your current annual advertising sponsorship appeal by asking local businesses and other organizations to sponsor not only program ads, but also other activities, events and even your performance venues.

Organizing and conducting an annual advertising sponsorship appeal can be done in seven simple steps:

Research potential supporters. Review your local telephone directory’s yellow pages for a list of local businesses and/or go to your local area’s Chamber of Commerce and request a list of all local businesses. Build these into a solid database (designed for non-profit and booster club use), and make sure to update this list each year.

Identify and price various advertising sponsorship opportunities. Identify various opportunities for sponsorship. Consider offering people the annual naming and sponsorship rights to your performance venue and venues within your venue, such as entrances and concession areas. Offer people the opportunity to sponsor game or performance-day activities and events, giveaways and contests. Offer venue signage as an option as well as program advertisements, and make sure to price these opportunities at fair, yet challenging, prices.

Develop a media kit.Next, develop a media kit or packet folder with an introductory letter, your annual game or performance schedule, a list or brochure of advertising and sponsorship opportunities, a list of current or previous sponsors, a list of sponsor testimonials and a sponsorship commitment form.

Form an advertising committee. Recruit a group of people to serve on your advertising committee who will drive and monitor the appeal, and reach out in person and by phone to potential sponsors. I suggest that the committee consist of co-chairs, one upper-class person’s parent and one lower-class person’s parent who should each be tasked with recruiting two class captains so that there is a captain for each (freshman through senior) class. In turn, these people should each recruit up to five team members, which should provide you with a total of 25 people on the committee. Structuring your advertising sponsorship committee in this way will also help assure its continuity.

Send an initial sponsorship invitation letter. At the start of your annual appeal, send out a letter to past and prospective sponsors, thanking them for their past support and/or inviting them to sponsor your activity again in the current year.

Follow-up in person, by phone and mail. Next, follow this invitation letter up with a personal call by one of your advertising sponsorship committee members. Let your committee members personally select those they wish to follow-up with, and encourage them to call on people and businesses they patronize or know. For those you cannot contact in person, follow-up by phone. As a last resort, follow-up by mail after personal approaches are exhausted.

Repeat every year. Repeat this entire process every year and watch your advertising sponsorship revenue grow!

An annual advertising sponsorship appeal is a far more efficient and effective way to raise funds versus other traditional booster club fundraisers with nearly 100% of the funds raised going directly into your particular arts or athletics program at your school.