Do you need help organising an historical musical?
If the international success of the Broadway, soon-to-be-West-End show Hamilton is anything to go by, historical musicals are current, and what better way to inspire and teach your children history, than through music?
In this post we share our ten top tips for schools and teachers to put on their own musical performance.
If it works for Hamilton, why not Darwin too? This brand new musical Darwin Rocks!, which is published by Musicline School Musicals, is just in time to coincide with the 130th anniversary of the publication of Darwin’s autobiography and the 180th anniversary of ‘Voyages of the Adventure and Beagle’ in 2018.
Following hot on the heels of his internationally successful Shakespeare Rocks, Steve Titford has produced a useful way of teaching Key Stage 2-3 students about the key theories and ideas of this amazing scientist.
Even those who pride themselves on knowing the science of Darwin, may find something new to entertain and delight themselves with here. Did you know, that when trying to decide whether or not to marry Emma (incidentally, his cousin), Darwin compiled a list of pros and cons of marriage and came to the conclusion that ‘A Wife Would be Better Than a Dog, Anyhow’?
Titford takes this as the title of one of his many lively and captivating songs and we defy anyone not to be entertained and enthused by their ‘rock’ style. It’s guaranteed to be a hit with the target age group! There’s also the obligatory ‘Feel Good’ end of Year 6 number ‘Nothing Beats Being You’ which could probably stand alone at the end of any summer term assembly. The script is lively, with jokes designed to appeal to all age groups which are also historically accurate, with events in Darwin’s life clearly shown.
Top 10 Tips
So, what are the key things you need to think about before putting on a musical in your school? Here are our ten top suggestions below:
1. Give yourself enough time
Allocate enough time to the project. At least half a term, although, a whole term is preferable. Start teaching the songs to the whole cast, as early as possible.
2. Hold auditions
Auditions are essential. Set your standards high, children are often more capable than you think!
3. Inspire and excite your cast
Make the children feel valued. Make sure they understand that they are entertainers and that the audience is really looking forward to the performance, so speaking and singing up is vital. Start by naming the children as “the cast” and quote West End performances constantly! Sometimes a trip to see a professional production can be very inspiring.
4. Think about the staging
If you don’t have a permanent stage, mark out from the first rehearsals the dimensions of the stage area you will have for the show and where the additional scenery/props will be, so you know everything planned will fit and the cast can be confident in their stage positioning.
5. Use the CD
Only use a live band if they are really competent. More often than not, it’s better and more reliable to use the backing tracks.
6. Strength in numbers
If possible, have the cast in the hall for the whole performance unless a special entrance is required. You’re going to need those voices to deliver an impressive performance when singing those songs! This will really get the audience going!
7. Rope your colleagues in!
… and anyone else for that matter! A couple of teachers placed at the back of the hall can be used as a ‘prompt’ to help children on stage remember their actions/words.
8. Get parents involved
… with making props and costumes. It’s a team effort. Or, if you have nervous children who don’t want to take part, maybe they can be involved with scene and prop changes. Put them in special, black, ‘Backstage Crew’ outfits to make them feel important to the production.
Often big or small, but overlooked in any show! Ensure you have enough understudies for some of the main parts. During rehearsals, encourage chorus and bit-part cast members to follow/learn one or two main cast parts very closely so that if anyone becomes ill/indisposed, they can understudy immediately.
10. Use every tool available to you
Try using Musicline‘s stock which is a great range of helpful products such as the Sing It! (Karaoke style singing for rehearsals), Project It! (PowerPoint backdrops for projection) and Dance it! (Choreography DVD). If you use them, they will save you so much time and stress. Trust us.