Often, you must choose a piece to perform before you see the children. This play must do the job of advertising and enticing the children (or parents) to want to sign up. And yet, you cannot be certain if you will have the actors with the right qualities to mount the production. You cannot know even the ratio of boys to girls that will ultimately be involved. So, your best course is to find a piece with parts that can be played by either boys or girls, with or with out much developed talent. Being FLEXIBLE is key!
A few years ago I was asked to provide an after school Drama Club at an Elementary School. Adding a Drama Club was new to the after school club options. So, we did not know how many children to expect. I was told only that there could be between 10-20 1st-4th graders signing up. I also needed to pick a play that could be FLEXIBLE enough to work for a group of that size and be mounted in just 10 hours of rehearsal time (including a performance) over the space of 10 weeks.
Obviously, I needed a small show since I would need to teach other rudimentary skills to these few children. I decided to try out one of my Mini-Musicals. I chose "The Tale of the Musicians of Bremen" because it could be done with a FLEXIBLE cast. That turned out to be a good decision because we ended up with just 3 boys and 8 girls all in the 2nd to 4th grade age-range. Having three boys was just enough to cast the Farmer, the Rooster, and one of the Robbers who were definitely Male characters. The other characters could be either gender.
Most of these children were very young with no experience in acting, singing or dancing. So, everything was new for them. They worked very hard to learn their show in just a few weeks. The biggest problem was that they could only practice once a week, so they had six days to forget all they worked on in the last rehearsal. When they finally got to use props and wear costumes, that really helped. And when they got on stage in front of an audience, they performed like pros.
What a fun and FLEXIBLE tale from the Brothers Grimm!
And what fun to write with a German Polka flavor!