Summertime And The Musical Is Nearing
With the long summer break just a few weeks away, many schools will be gearing up for the much-anticipated end-of-year production. For those in charge of such enterprises, those fearless (and exhausted) teachers willing to put in all those hours of extra work, the end is in sight, let the plate-spinning begin.
You see, directing a school musical requires teachers to multi-task like never before; there’s the acting, the singing, the staging, the costuming, the make-up, the props, the lights, the sound, the programme, the tickets, the absent children, the lost shoes, the mislaid scripts, the needy parent. With so many things to contend with during the final few weeks, it can be easy to lose sight of the bigger picture.
So, where should your time and effort really be spent in the short time remaining? We’ve put together a few suggestions to help keep your mind on what matters.
Let The Scenes Flow
When you’re directing a scene, it can be very tempting to seek perfection each and every time. The reality is that, especially with children, this just doesn’t happen. Somebody will always come in late, somebody will always forget their line, somebody will always say their line at completely the wrong time. The important thing is to keep the scene going, get to the end, then evaluate together. This also keeps the rest of the cast from getting bored and breaking off into conversation.
Projection And Clarity
The learning of lines tends to come with time (and reinforcement at home!) so don’t waste rehearsal time on it. Where school musicals actually tend to suffer is in the projection and clarity of what is being said or sung. To remedy this, build vocal warm ups, breathing exercises and scales into each rehearsal. Introduce the idea of children looking up and visualising their voice hitting the back wall of the hall. You could even direct things from as far away as possible in the space. Certainly avoid sitting on a chair in the front row!
For more top directing tips, read our blog Top Tips And Handy Hints On Directing A School Musical
Energy And Enthusiasm
Audiences tend to forget – and certainly forgive – when lines are missed, when characters are late arriving on stage or when props are noticeably absent. What they tend to remember is the energy and enthusiasm of the performers, the gusto with which songs are sung and characters played. More than anything else, try to inspire this during rehearsals. A little confidence goes a long way.
Do spend some rehearsal time working on ensuring the transition from one scene to the next is as smooth and as quick as possible. This ‘dead time’ can be quite intrusive to the story and distracting for the audience, often leading to the removal of smart phones from pockets!
Sing, Sing, Sing
Great songs generally lead to great musicals. When practising, move quickly from one song to another, rather than asking children to sing the same song over and over again until it is perfect. Better to keep them all interested and enthusiastic by tackling a new one, then returning to the original a little later in rehearsal. And remember, tuneful is good, volume is vital.
Remember, people know how difficult it is to direct and produce a school musical. Rally the troops, get the other staff involved, don’t go it alone.
For more on this, see our blog Organisation Is The Key To A Brilliant School Musical
Overall, just do your best, stay good-humoured, keep things in perspective. And if it does turn out to be disaster, well at least there’s August.