So ended the first article I wrote last year about the experience of Musical Production show at a school that had never produced a musical before. The production team, the parents and the students all came together and we did it! It was a wonderful experience. However, I ended my final article in my series about the process of producing a musical with the sobering realization that the process was too much work for the number of people shouldering the responsibilities.
Last year we had a musical team led by a director, a musical director, and a choreographer. This year we have 4 willing adults who don’t want to take on any of those roles. We really do want to provide this experience for our students seeing how much they gained last year so we decided to think out of the box. Instead of a full-blown staged musical production show, we are producing a musical revue. The show must go on!
The musical we chose to revue is the Dreamworks’ Madagascar: A Musical Adventure. At this early stage where the concept is still in development, the plan is to have each of those 4 willing adults be responsible for one group of students: first graders, second graders, third graders, and the fourth/fifth graders. Each group of students will learn the grand finale song. In addition to the finale, the first and second graders will each learn 1 song, the third graders will learn 2 songs and the fourth and fifth graders will learn 3 songs.
The grade level classroom teachers in the school will each receive a CD of the songs selected for their grade level. They will play the selections in their classrooms in order to familiarize the students with the songs. In this way, all the students in the school will know some of the songs and the students participating in the musical revue will be familiar with the music before the start of rehearsals. Each group will rehearse just one day per week for about 10 weeks and then have a tech week that ends in the two evening performances.
This first week of February the students will audition for the show. The purpose of the auditions is three-fold. First, we want to know how many students are interested. Second, we want to see the level of commitment of both the students and parents. They had to get their permission slips signed, they have to wait their turn to audition and the parents have to pick up the students at a later time than the usual school dismissal. Third, we need to see our talent pool!
We will be choosing leads to sing some solos and recite some dialogue and we may even add a narrator to help contextualize the show. We do intend to have choreography so we also want to see how the students move. The auditions will run for 2 days with the older students auditioning first since the leads will be chosen from that group and the younger students auditioning second.
One snag the musical production show and the team already know we have is that the various age groups do not have an even number of students interested. The first and third-grade groups are lower in the number of students auditioning. If that remains once we get a commitment from the cast members, we may need to require some students to attend two rehearsals per week.
I will keep you posted as we work out the snags in our plan. Even though we cannot produce a full musical production show as we did last year, all of us involved feel strongly about providing a performance experience for the students. Our motto for this year is, “The Show Must Go On!”
Deirdre is a teaching artist and AI coach in the San Diego public schools dedicated to helping classroom teachers make arts an integral part of their teaching. Deirdre has an MEd in Arts Integration and over twenty years of classroom and performing arts teaching experience. Email Deirdre.