Open Forum

Next Year's Musical

  • 1.  Next Year's Musical

    Posted 22 days ago

    I am in the process of picking my shows for next year.  Like most programs, we will need to rebuild both financially as well as student involvement.  We were able to have productions this year, but Covid hit my program pretty hard.

    I want to choose a musical for the fall that will bring in the kids to audition as well as the audience.  I definitley want to do something heartwarming and not too serious.  I am leaning toward The Wizard of Oz, or possibly Bye Bye Birdie.  I don't have the strongest of singers, but I do have 2-3 strong girls and 2 strong boys.  I am concerned about the cast size of Bye Bye Birdie.  Has anyone done it with a smallish cast (like 20 or so?)  I don't know how many students will audition.  For Wizard of Oz, I am a bit concerned about how to do the set and the special effects.  Has anyone done the show without flying their witch?

    If you have directed either show, please let me know any tips/tricks/advice.  Thanks!

    Jennifer Gunther

  • 2.  RE: Next Year's Musical

    Posted 21 days ago
    Hi Jennifer.  When I directed Wizard I was in a facility without a fly space.  I did not fly anyone.  I built a platform upstage and the witch melted using a trap door-like system with a hydraulic jack underneath and obviously a lot of fog from a fog machine blowing up to cover the trap door.  The balloon at the end was done with a wench and a couple of pulleys and only lifted up about a foot, then was pulled off right.  This was not my favorite effect but it worked.  The flying monkeys did not fly but instead came in through the audience and created a bunch of havoc so the fact they did not fly was completely missed by the audience because the audience was so distracted with them being in their faces. We did a creative dance for the tornado scene and used large fans positioned at front of house behind the audience members.

    While I directed this particular show at a community theatre, I also got younger kids involved as some of the munchkins and that sold a lot more tickets.  I had a cast of 64 and that show sold really well.

    When I directed The Music Man at the high school a few years ago, I cast about 15 non-high school students as members of the boys band and, of course, those 15 extra children generated a lot more ticket sales.  I did not cast younger students instead of HS students but and just supplemented my cast of HS students with younger students so no high school student was overlooked for any role for a younger child and thus no resentment.  Actually, it cultivated a really tight bond between the younger kids and the older ones, some of which, took on a mentor role.

    I am considering Wizard for similar reasons and would absolutely cast younger students to generate additional ticket sales and help rebuild the program in upcoming years.


    Scott Usher
    Hartland High School

  • 3.  RE: Next Year's Musical

    Posted 21 days ago
    We did Wizard of OZ, or WOO! as we like to call it ;), without real flying. I set up a 40" platform upstage and had 2 boys dressed in all black pop him (our witch was a male) up cheerleader style onto the platform from the US side. It gave the impression that she was flying.

    Boys crouched, cupped hands and each held one of the witches feet, the witch held onto their shoulders and they tossed him. We did a lot of rehearsal and had a spotter US of the trick. It worked really well.

    Hillary Bogers, MEd
    Theatre Director
    Jack Britt High School

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  • 4.  RE: Next Year's Musical

    Posted 21 days ago
    Here's an idea to build your audience: if you're doing Wizard of Oz, use 2nd graders as your munchkins. You can be inclusive and use a different class for each performance, depending on the size of your elementary school and how many performances total. (No auditions this way). Make costuming simple: rainbow pinafore aprons for girls & rainbow workman style aprons for boys, or workman style aprons for all, over white leggins or sweatpants. Your high schoolers play all the speaking parts & lead the younger set on and off the stage. 
    Debbie Corbin, retired

  • 5.  RE: Next Year's Musical

    Posted 21 days ago
    It's been a while, but when I last directed it we had our Glinda roll in on a gold, half-moon looking cart. It looked like it was traveling by itself but the two crew members were hidden upstage bringing it on and off.

    We had Dorothy and Toto on a rising bed during the tornado. Tech crew traveled around her with large props on long poles. This helped us light Dorothy and the props and keep the crew dark. Upstage of the black curtains behind her the crew changed the set to a colorful Munchkinland. The crew moved the bed off at the end of the tornado, the traveler opened and Dorothy entered through a section of her house into Munchkinland.

    The Wicked Witch entered and exited in a long spurt of fog. With the lighting it looked like she just appeared in the fog as it dissipated upward.

    We opened upstage panels to reveal a large screen, onto which we live streamed the Wizard - his face took up most of the screen to make him imposing and we added reverb to his mic. He was behind one of the panels with a camera pointed at him until it flipped around to reveal the actor on stage.

    If your choices are Wizard of Oz or Bye Bye Birdie, I recommend the former. The music is beautiful and the show is, as you put it, heartwarming. It also sold very well!

    Hope this helps!

  • 6.  RE: Next Year's Musical

    Posted 6 days ago
    Is Wizard old enough to beat the royalty?   It is 80 years old.    I'm 58 and I saw it as a kid... And so did my mom when she was a kid...  I know it's a reality that many old shows sell well cause of name value.    Just like classic rock and TCM.    It's sad that people don't  attend newer shows or shows they've never heard of.    I actually prefer to see something where I don't know what's going to happen.    As long as I know others say it's a good show.    Leon

    Leon Kaye
    Playwright for the Ages

  • 7.  RE: Next Year's Musical

    Posted 5 days ago
      |   view attached
    We were SO fortunate to do Oz just before COVID hit last year.  We did 5 performances over 2 weekends, and just as we started to strike the set, we had to shut down. Staff was allowed to go back in May to finish, and to pack up our space - demolition for a major HS renovation project continued.

    But we used 20 elementary students as Munchkins, and made ALL the costumes and props ourselves.  Toto was an altered RC car with a stuffed animal (the official Toto sold at the Smithsonian).   We have all the main characters, tons of ensemble items - winkies, trees, poppies...

    And we are looking to SELL our entire show... we are just now moving into a new auditorium, with very little storage space.

    If you are considering the show next season - please contact me!   We are hoping to find a school that would want all of it as one large package... it's too much to ship, I'd say.  (Right now it's in NINE really HUGE plastic storage boxes.)   We are in south central PA - Lancaster County - about an hour west of Philadelphia.

    We haven't set a price - but we'd love to talk to anyone interested.  Cast photo enclosed for reference.

    Melissa Mintzer
    Penn Manor High School