Open Forum

Rights to Musicals ?

  • 1.  Rights to Musicals ?

    Posted 12-17-2020 08:14

    I tried posting this yesterday, but don't know that it worked so my apologies if the same thing posts twice. My high school teachers have proposed getting the rights to a full musical - book, music etc., - a musical with a plot, dialogue, singing, dancing - and then if they can't make that work (because of changes due to COVID) doing it as a revue with some group numbers, solos, duets, etc. I haven't heard of a licensing agreement that allows you to do that, but I said that I would turn to the hive mind and ask? Does anyone know of a way to license a whole show and then basically cut it up, remove dialogue, change who sings what, basically turn it into a review? Or has anyone ever asked to do that and gotten permission? Thanks so much! Counting down (with many of you I expect) to having a restful holiday. 

    Jane Dewey
    Director of Arts Education
    Danville Independent Schools
    Danville, KY

  • 2.  RE: Rights to Musicals ?

    Posted 26 days ago

    Hi Jane, I don't think there is a definite answer to this question because it would depend on a variety of factors. I'm pretty doubtful you'd be able to do something like this without permission though, so it would be really important to get some advice from your licensing rep and provide a detailed plan for what you'd like to do and what parts you plan to cut or use. From my experience, publishers are doing their best to provide a variety of options to allow schools to produce theatre in the current environment, but permissions can vary widely by show. Has anyone out there secured permission for a performance of this nature?

    Ginny Butsch
    Community Engagement Manager

  • 3.  RE: Rights to Musicals ?

    Posted 25 days ago

    Making changes to a copyrighted piece, no matter how small, without permission, is illegal.

    If a revue is wanted, many of the larger company allow you to license the individual songs.

    Many of our chorus friends are used to the Hal Leonard medleys of Bway shows. They are meant for Show Chioir performances and not allowed to be performed "staged" or "costumed".

    It goes back to the difference between the Grand Dramatic Rights of the full piece and the limited musical performance right handled by ASCAP, BMI, etc.

    It is always best to do things the legal way and contact the company. You'd hate to put in all that work and have it canceled the week of the show (which happens more that you think.)

    Have a great holiday.

    Break a leg!

    Randall Adkison,
    Interim Executive Director, Florida Association for Theatre Education
    Assistant State Director for Festival Operations, Florida Thespians

    Teaching Artist, Teaching Artist Alliance

  • 4.  RE: Rights to Musicals ?

    Posted 25 days ago

    I know some companies (at least Theatrical Rights) are doing "quarantined" versions of their shows. They include most of the music from the original show, but are meant to be more of a concert/revue version. We are looking to do The Addams Family this spring, but are unsure if the full version will be safe enough to perform. We reached out to Theatrical Rights, which told us we can buy one version and change it before the performance date if necessary (i.e. buy the full version, and shift to the concert version if necessary).

    Josh King
    Auditorium Manager, Belding Area Schools
    Belding High School