Considering taking over musicals
Date: September 30, 2013
We've been doing our spring musicals as an extra-curricular, after school activity. I've collaborated with the drama teacher and the instrumental teacher on the musical direction and chorus preparation. The number of would-be singer-actors at this school has always impressed me, yet also concerned me that they haven't been enrolled in choir. It has been all too easy - for our seniors especially - to take an open period instead of an elective, so we've been losing a lot of very talented students because they know they can have the most fun and rewarding performance experience without committing to the day-to-day work of a drama or choir class. A different problem is that the amount of after-school hours has made it difficult for students to justify auditioning for the musical. And of course, absenteeism has been a problem, as it's not a graded activity.
I now have the opportunity to completely take over the musicals next year, and do them as a curricular activity in my auditioned choir class. The instrumental teacher will prepare the orchestra. My upper choir has 36 voices, fairly well balanced, but currently only a couple of men capable of singing a lead role. I'm trying to weigh the pros and cons of doing the musicals in my choir class, and I was wondering what the experience has been for those of you who do Broadway musicals in your choir classes.
I'd appreciate answers to any and all of the following questions I'm currently weighing:
How much has it helped your enrollments? Has it hurt in any way?
How do you keep the project from taking over your life?
What are some great musicals for small casts with few strong men?
What do you do with the choir students who don't want roles?
During the production, how do you balance the greater picture of choral education with the production schedule?
What are some good resources to learn about producing and directing musical theater?
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