So, how much time should I allow to do all it takes to MOUNT a production?
That will depend on a few things: Schedule, Budget, Helpers, and the Stage, well actually, the availability of rehearsal and performance spaces.
Schedule - My rule of thumb for doing a 20-30 minute children’s theater production is to plan 20 to 25+ hours of rehearsal time. For a longer, more complicated show plan 30-35+ hours at a bare minimum. Now, MOUNTING a smaller in-class mini-musical with fewer complications may only take 6-10 hours of dedicated rehearsal/teaching time depending on how many extra teaching activities you want to include. Plan the schedule very carefully to work the children in short segments. Vary the activities every 10-15 minutes so that they stay invigorated through singing, movement, doing worksheets, thinking/memorizing/lecture time, and acting segments and still be able to get much accomplished in each session.
Budget – Most shows can be MOUNTED with any amount of budget depending on how creative the Director is. Sets and Costumes can be very expensive especially when multiplied by the size of the cast. Some productions do not absolutely require elaborate sets and costumes. Find shows that have suggestions for alternate ways to MOUNT them. Decide what you can afford and design the production accordingly.
Helpers – In order to do a musical, the main “helpers” are the Director, Assistant Director (or producer), musical director or vocal coach, stage manager, choreographer, costumer, and scenic designer, and they may even want helpers to help them. If you do not have people to do these jobs, the few helpers available must do all of the jobs. Depending on the size of the cast, try to use the 10:1 rule. For every 8-10 children have at least one adult helper. That way, the jobs can be equally divided and the children’s varied activities can be more easily managed.
Stage – “It’s all about the stage” or lack thereof. In the theater world, this is a common mantra. Creating the illusion of the world in the story is literally a function of the stage and its limitations. Sometimes a show must be MOUNTED in a portion of a classroom with none of the conventional perks (lights, sound, curtains, backstage prep area, space, space, and more space). Sometimes a show will be MOUNTED in a gym with a stage, but the stage still has few of the conventional perks.
So, once again, the production has to be designed within the confines of the space available. In order to be successful, Directors must be creative! Sometimes the show won’t move to the stage until the last couple of rehearsals. In order to effectively rehearse, the rehearsal space must closely match the stage dimensions. Be sure to measure and set up barriers as necessary to make the practice space resemble closely the feeling of the actual stage.
So get out there and start MOUNTING one of the Musicals or Mini-Musicals on this site! Break a leg!