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How To Prepare For Your Primary School Production

Updated: Jul 16

A Comprehensive Guide.

Includes: assembling your team, creating a schedule, running rehearsals and much more!



You’ve selected your fabulous show and you’ve chosen your magnificent cast (and if you haven't, check out our guide to casting and auditions). You are now ready to begin rehearsing! The key to a (relatively) stress-free production is organisation. Whether you are new to the primary school musical scene, or whether you are an old pro, this guide will help to get you where you need to be. So, here it is! A comprehensive, step-by-step process, outlining how to tackle the mammoth task that is preparing for a primary school musical production.

 

1. Sort the venue

If you are booking a venue, make sure you book in early so you can choose a suitable date. One that gives you enough time to prepare and doesn’t clash with other school events. (This step may need to be before the audition and casting process in some cases, depending on the popularity of the venue).

 

Be sure to tour the venue and makes notes about the following:

  • Do they have curtains? If so, how long do they take to open close? Sometimes they will be worth using if you have large groups of students coming on and offstage or big set changes, they might be worth using here. However, there will be times when a black out will be much smoother.

  • What is the backstage setup? If you are doing a whole school performance, where will the students hang out backstage? Will they all fit?

  • Does the venue provide staff to operate the sound and lighting or will you need to provide this?

  • Does the venue have a projector? If so, you may want to think about using digital backdrops. Most of EPmusic's musicals come with free digital backdrops.

  • Where will the cast enter/exit? Be aware of this when rehearsals start so you can give clear instructions on whether students are entering stage left or stage right.

 

2. Assemble your team


You’ve already got the students on board (see our blog on the casting and audition process) now it’s time to get staff and parent helpers on board. Below is a list of jobs that might be required. Keep in mind that in many cases, multiple roles will fall to the director. How these jobs are divided, will depend on the size of your school and the willingness of the school community to help out.

ROLE/JOB

DESCRIPTION

Producer

In charge of the non-creative aspects of the production. Manages the production team, the budget, books the venue/rehearsal spaces. (For a primary school musical, this role usually falls to the Principal or Deputy).

Director

The chief in command. Auditions and cast lead roles, schedules and runs rehearsals, works with cast to enhance their performance, makes creative decisions for all aspects of the show (pretty much responsible for the lot! No pressure ;))

Music Director 

(Only required if you are having a live band)

Schedules and runs rehearsals for the band, works with soloists on their songs, conducts or plays in the band.

Note: All EPmusic musicals come with backing tracks so a Music Director is optional. If you are having a live band, you can purchase an EPmusic Song Book containing lead sheets.

Costumes

Designs/makes or hires costumes (often a combination of both) for cast and ensembles.

Lighting

Creates a lighting plan for the venue (if your venue does not supply lighting, it will need to be sourced).

Program

Designs and prints the musical program (consider charging a small fee for programs to cover the costs).

Head of Makeup

Sources, designs and applies makeup to lead cast members for dress rehearsals and/or performance. Manages team of makeup artists.

Makeup Artists

Applies makeup to lead cast members for dress rehearsals and/or performance.

Ushers

Checks tickets and shows people to their seats.

Stage Manager 1

Communicates lighting, audio, curtain cues to the prompt desk. In a primary school musical this is usually the director as they may be the only one who knows the show well enough!

Stage Manager 2

Guides entries for cast and ensembles, manages the stage crew (if they consist of students – see our blog entitled ‘A Guide to Auditions and Casting Your Primary School Musical)

Videographer

Films the performance, provides order forms, distributes digital or physical copies of the show to those who have purchased.

Note: EPmusic can provide recommendations for videographers in Melbourne, VIC. Contact us for more information.

Photographer

Photographs dress rehearsal and/or performance.

Stage Crew

In charge of moving sets/props on and off stage, collecting class ensembles when they are ready for their numbers. Great opportunity for students to be involved behind the scenes, with a senior student or staff member appointed as the team leader.

Ticketing

In charge of creating and selling tickets.

Backstage supervision

Supervises the students backstage. (Be sure to assign supervision for the lead cast dressing room as well as the class ensembles).


Work out how many people you will need working on each role – this will depend on the size and scale of your show. Put the word out to the staff and school community. People are more likely to step up and offer to help if they know exactly what you need so be specific about the roles and what is required.


3. Create your rehearsal schedule

Work backwards from your performance date and always remember to build in plenty of contingency time (absolutely essential when working around a busy primary school schedule!).


Below is a FREE rehearsal schedule example that was used for a production of EPmusic's 'When I Grow Up'. It includes a task list for the director – you can omit this section on the copy that gets distributed to the cast and crew. Adjust it based on your show, your own time constraints and the number/length of weekly rehearsals that you have been afforded. It does not include rehearsals for the class chorus numbers as these are most likely rehearsed during regular class hours.


Rehearsal Schedule Example
.pdf
Download PDF • 202KB

4. Cast/Crew Materials



Prior to your first rehearsal, organise all the materials your lead cast will need and send them out digitally or provide physical copies (or both!).

 

Commitment form

This is optional but might be helpful for the students and parents to know exactly the level of commitment that is required (lunch time rehearsals, learning lines, availability for rehearsals and performances). The parents may be more likely to support their child in preparing for their role and the students may be more likely to take their role seriously.

 

Script

Physical and digital copies of only the pages of the script that each student needs.

Give the cast a deadline for being ‘off book’. Always tell the cast that this is earlier than it needs to be - this will help with the stragglers. There are always stragglers!

Note: EPmusic’s Performing Rights Licence entitles you to photocopy necessary portions of the script and sheet music for the purposes of rehearsal. The scripts are all digital downloads, making it very easy to share these with parents and teachers. 

 

Music

Send the relevant rehearsal and performance tracks to your lead cast.

Note: EPmusic musicals all come with MP3 files of the vocal and backing tracks making it easy to share them with cast members.

 

Rehearsal Schedule

See above. A digital and/or physical copy should be provided to cast/crew members, their parents and to the school staff. One should also be placed in a highly visible area of the school.

 

5. Rehearsals 



Help your cast shine

Encourage your cast to be creative and experimental with their role, especially in the initial rehearsals. It should be a collaborative process where the students can bring their own personalities to the part. As tempting as it may be, try not to give too many corrections in the first run-throughs of each scene. Keep it positive, keep it flowing, and give notes at the end of each rehearsal. It’s easier to reel them back in than it is to try to bring out their character’s personality on every single line, so try to create an environment where the student’s feel safe to try different ways of expressing themselves and even to ad-lib a little. You will be surprised what they come up with!

Note: All EPmusic musicals come with a free editable version of the script so you can make changes as you need to. Any major changes to the script just need to be submitted for approval.

 

Projection

The focus with primary school aged children should always be on clarity and projection. The biggest challenge for this age group is actually not remembering lines, it’s saying them clear enough to be heard. Be sure to build vocal warmups and breathing exercises into each rehearsal.

 

Scene transitions

Remember to spend time working on scene transitions. This is often forgotten about in primary school musicals and can be quite disruptive to the flow of the show and lead to your audience becoming disengaged – the last thing we want at our shows!

 

Final Thoughts...

When you are freaking out on show day because Justin forgot his costume, Olivia has stage fright and the Year 1/2’s never actually made it on stage for rehearsal – remember why we do this. The performance is only a part of the musical process. The journey to get there is where most of the learning takes place. Don’t aim for perfection, aim for growth. Aim to make wonderful memories. And aim to inspire creativity and a love of the arts in your students.

 

Now that you are ready to take on your next (or your first!) musical production, check out our musicals and be sure to get in touch if you have any questions. For more school musical tips and tricks, make sure you keep up with our blog.

 

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