Deirdre Moore | June 2016

So You Want to Produce a Musical? Part V

As promised, here is the update on our first ever musical production at our K-5 elementary school – the 5th installment.  Yes, we produce a musical For any who may have missed it, the school is putting on a production of Disney’s The Jungle Book Kids.  It has been in rehearsal for nearly 2 months now and rehearsals are scheduled for nearly every day for the next month since the show is scheduled for June 22nd.  From the beginning attrition has been happening in dribs and drabs but we just recently lost a really great lead.  That was heartbreaking.  While we expected some attrition, it seemed we had a problem on our hands.

In talking with the three directors (head director, music and dance), with the kids in the cast and with parents, the top complaint was boredom.  Truth be told, there is some wait time in rehearsal and waiting can be boring.  Another was that the kids are tired.  Each rehearsal runs just over an hour and there have been 3-4 per week for the last several weeks.

We knew that since this was the school’s first experience that we would need to educate ourselves, our parents and our kids.  This is just part of that learning experience.  So, at the last committee meeting we had a brainstorming session about our morale problem.  We discussed what seemed to be the issues and came up with several solutions that we are going to try.  Here’s hoping!

Problem and Solution Time:

1. Reward the students who are making it to rehearsal to produce a musical:  Attendance and tardiness are issues at our school.  Given that, the attendance has been fairly decent but some students have been more responsible than others.  For that reason, the head director is creating incentives for those students who come consistently to rehearsal.

2. Create ritual:  Although this had been discussed previously it had not been uniformly implemented.  Now that the rehearsals are whole cast, it makes sense to have a routine beginning and end that not only warm up/cool down the cast but also serve to unite them so that no matter who is running the rehearsal, the kids sense all the adults are on the same page and that the adults and the students are one team working for one goal.

3. Share Road Maps and Check-Ins to produce a musical:  We want to make sure the students understand why there are so many rehearsals and just exactly what the end game is.  For those adults involved, it seems obvious but as a flower in the jungle chorus, it may not feel so obvious.  Therefore, the scenes as they were determined by the directors will be shared with the students in a visual way so the students understand the purpose of the rehearsal and can evaluate their own progress at the end.

This will become part of the ritual beginning and ending of rehearsal and empower the students to really be a part of the process.  We want them to determine whether we reached our goal (like getting through a scene with all dialogue, choreography and singing without prompting) at the end of the rehearsal and if not, what needs to happen next.

4. Build Team Spirit Along with the ritual of rehearsal we wanted to find other ways to build that feeling of community and teamwork.  While we all know we want to have a cast party, and t-shirts and perform at a school assembly to advertise the show we have not yet shared any of that with the kids.  It’s time.

They need to know that good times are coming – that at the end of all this hard work and sometimes boredom comes the reward of wearing their cast shirts to school instead of the school “uniform” that the students are encouraged to wear, of advertising the show at a school morning assembly and of having a wrap party after the last performance to celebrate as a team.

So, armed with our new plans, the team heads into the final month of rehearsal.  June 22nd is the dress rehearsal and June 24 is our wrap party.  I’ll let you know how it goes!

Things to Remember To Produce A Musical:

It’s important to encourage students to consider the elements of the arts on their own, so in regards to drama they should be thinking about:







For more help on encouraging students to think independently about the elements of the arts and to produce a musical, check our our Arts Integration Student Placemat on our site; 

About the Author

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.