How To Involve More Kids In Your High School Musical (No, not through a bigger cast.) — UPDATED
It’s common knowledge that the plays and musicals that are produced most often in the high school markets are the ones with the biggest casts. Why? The educators want to involve as many students as possible. And what sets us apart from sports is that musicals and plays have more flexibility with the # of players. (You can’t add a chorus to a basketball team, but boy oh boy can you rack ‘em and stack ‘em in the chorus of Anything Goes.)
In fact, large musicals get a check in the “Pro” column when considering a show for investment because of how often they are performed over other more intimate, shows. I talk about this at length here.
The more students involved, the better the show, the more tickets you sell (more students = more parents), and the more those students have an experience that will, without a doubt, change their lives. Because whether a student decides to pursue a career in the theater or decides to be a lawyer, I firmly believe that there is no endeavor in the world that teaches collaboration better than putting up a musical.
So, what if we could get more students involved?
And what if we could get more students involved who wouldn’t usually think about getting involved with a show? Maybe these folks aren’t the extroverted type that wants to step on a stage and perform. And they’re not the tech type either.
They’re probably the type that thinks putting on a musical is just a hobby. Because no one has told them any different. But you and I know it’s a business . . . just like any other. And that businesses need all sorts of talents to make a show a success.
See, all high school musicals have performers and stage managers and orchestras and light board operators and costume designers and so on.
But you know what they don’t have?
Advertising & Marketing Directors.
That’s right . . . I’m proposing that every high school musical out there have an administrative team, set up in the same structure as a Broadway show.
Teachers would get a chance to get more students involved.
And we, as an industry, would get a new training ground for the Producers, General Managers, Advertising and Marketing Directors, and Casting Directors of tomorrow.
Think about it . . . the students would work underneath the teachers, of course, but . . .
The Producer would be in charge of overseeing the production, of course, as well as fundraising. Yep, give him or her a goal of raising $X and let them find a way to do it (car washes, bake sales, Kickstarter and more).
The General Manager would learn how to put a budget together for the show and keep everyone on a budget.
The Press Agent would try to get articles written in the newspapers, online, and even invite people like me to come to see it.
The Advertising and Marketing Director would get the word out to sell tickets, get a logo designed, manage the social media, and more.
The Casting Directors would schedule the auditions, run them, put out the offers and maybe even convince the high school quarterback that he’d make a great Teyve.
And each position could have a team of people underneath him or her.
See, before I started working on Broadway, I never knew that any of these positions existed… .because these positions didn’t exist on any of the shows I worked on coming up!
But if they had, I might have found out what I wanted to do faster . . . and might have even have been better at it when I got started.
More students involved. And a stronger administrative future for Broadway. It’s a win-win.
If you like this idea, I wonder if you could do me a favor . . . send this blog to any high school drama teachers than you know. Here’s the link.
Because it’s a very easily actionable idea. You just ask for volunteers, sign ‘em up (and based on the # of students who email me saying they want to produce, etc, you’ll get plenty) and give them a structure of things to do.
In fact, I’ll raise my hand and say that if there is any high school drama teacher that needs some help in creating a job description and a list of duties, I’ll write it up for you so you don’t have to. Consider it done.
And maybe, just maybe, I can even get some Broadway folks to mentor some of these student administrators . . .
As you can tell, I want this to work. Why am I so passionate about it?
Because there are over 30,000 public and private high schools in this country. If only 20,000 did shows, and we add just 5 administration positions to each one, that’s 100,000 more kids who get to experience the magic of putting on a show with their peers.
And, we’d without a doubt, kickstart a few careers of the future business leaders of Broadway.
Send it, tweet it, insta-it or whatever, but please get this blog to a teacher you know.
Job Descriptions for Administrative Positions on High School Productions
The Producer is like a CEO (Chief Executive Officer) or President of a Company. The buck (literally!) stops with the Producer. He or she looks at the big picture of the production by approving the budget, advising the creative team, overseeing the marketing campaign, making sure the cast is happy, and delegating appropriate tasks to the other staff members on a show. A Producer is also in charge of raising the money for a production.
The General Manager of a play or musical is like the COO (Chief Operating Officer) of a company. The GM creates the budget and helps make sure the team adheres to that budget! A GM also deals with contracts, paying bills, ticket sales, and is the direct conduit between the show and the Producer for business decisions and issues.
The Press Agent is responsible for generating publicity for the production through newspaper articles, blogs, podcasts, TV coverage, and anywhere he or she can get talked about. Responsibilities include creating press releases for distribution and pitching and following up with media to get stories placed.
The Advertising and Marketing Director is responsible for paid or trade advertising and promotional opportunities as well as designing the logo, the website, social media, etc. Creating partnerships with other high school productions, emailing local groups with special discounts to see the show, or placing ads online or in newspapers, etc, are just a few examples of the type of responsibilities for an Advertising and Marketing Director.
The Casting Directors would schedule the auditions, run them, put out the offers, as well as convince people to audition and even take the role. They work closely with the Director to come up with a “breakdown” of what the Director is looking for and then their job is to find the people to fulfill the Director’s vision.
Ken created one of the first Broadway podcasts, recording over 250 episodes over 7 years. It features interviews with A-listers in the theater about how they “made it”, including 2 Pulitzer Prize Winners, 7 Academy Award Winners and 76 Tony Award winners. Notable guests include Pasek & Paul, Kenny Leon, Lynn Ahrens and more.