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I am trying to narrow the search for next year's musical, for grades 7-12. Our theatre is closed down for a major remodel for the next year or so. We have moved all productions to our small theatre . It is an indoor amphitheatre with a 3/4 audience span. There is a stage size of approx. 15'x30'. I also utilize the two aisles through the audience that lead to the back of the house/exit. I would appreciate any suggestions on what MTI shows would work in this small limited space. Thanks!
9 answers

June 30, 2009
I also agree about making the show fit your theater, but would love to recommend "She Loves Me" - Book by Joe Masteroff, Music by Jerry Bock, and Lyrics by Sheldon Harnick. Based on Parfumerie by Miklos Laszl, this lovely jewelbox musical is ideal for a smaller stage. The cast-size is also smaller than shows traditionally selected by schools, but the situation with your theater being remodled may be a nice opportunity to explore another kind of musical. Every role is a rich and the ensemble can be built up. It's one of the best musicals I've ever seen - at once heartwarming and hilarious, it inspired me to write, sing, dance - you can't go wrong. (You may recognize it as the basic plot for "You've Got Mail" with Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks.) The subject matter won't fly over your students' heads, but it's cozy nature will make everyone who participates feel truly special. Best wishes to you in whatever you choose - Hannah

June 28, 2009
Hi Matthew, I have to agree with Alex and the MTI host, you can do any show in which you put your mind to, the space shouldn't matter, it just means you are a little more creative. We have a stage that is 15' x 25' with wings of about 6'. We are actually housed in the school's old auto shop. But we have done some great musicals with casts of upwards of 40+ and orchestra. It is the story that people come to see. Brenda

June 26, 2009
Another awesome Stephen Schwartz show is Godspell. Can have a small to medium sized cast and minimal set. Very fun script and music with lots of creative choices for both the performers and director possible. The small combo required musically is also attractive if you have limited space available for your musicians.

June 26, 2009
You could also think about revues or song cycles--something like Jason Robert Brown's Songs for a New World is great for a small space. Since the show is composed of related stand-alone songs without a strict plot, a small space would actually add to the show, since it's a fairly personal piece. It's also great for an ensemble cast. There isn't a leading role, so each student would get equally strong material (and their individual chance to be in the spotlight!). The other great thing is that you could use as few or as many students as you need. So each song could be sung by a different student, or a smaller number of students could sing two or three songs each.

June 24, 2009
My first thought was also "Once on This Island"

June 24, 2009
Hi Matthew, The community theater I work for is very small as well. I work with children in your same age range so I totally understand your situation. The stage is 26'WX30'DX12'H. I know how hard it can be to pick a show for the space. Im currently working on High School Musical and High School Musical 2 this summer. I have a cast of 29 and the set is pretty much a basic platform and flat set-up. The set is placed towards the back of the stage and I use alot of different props and minor set pieces that wheel on and off to represent all the different locations. I use the aisles like crazy as entrances and acting areas as well. The way I make it work is just by dividing the cast in half and I have one group do one number and the other does the following number. It helps with rehearsals and it makes the cast seem endless. Last summer we worked on Elton John and Tim Rices Aida. It was the biggest show we've ever done and it felt perfect in the space. I dont let the size of the space stop me. I feel that you can make any show work, the space just pushes me to be more creative as a director and choreographer. My backstage is very tiny as well. We really dont have any wing space but we make it happen. My adive would be to just find a show that moves you and excites your cast. You'll make anything work if your inspired. I dont think any show is "small." Its just what you do with it. Even shows like "The Last Five Years" can be extremely complex. I have some pictures from when I did Aida on my page. Hope this helps. Alex

Agreed - you can make almost any size show work on almost any size stage - it might not be the most traditional staging, but just remember - it's all storytelling. Keep your storytelling clear, and your audience will stay with you the whole time.

Staff Answer
June 23, 2009
Once On This Island could also be a great choice - it's about a group huddled together during a storm telling a story to calm a frightened child...and the manner of storytelling can take up as large or small a space as you have. Here's a great video from a documentary about a group in New Orleans after Katrina doing Once On This Island as a benefit to revitalize a community center. They've got a tiny stage, and virtually no money, but still do an amazing job putting on the show. (be warned, though, it's a tearjerker!) http://www.afterthestormfoundation.org/videos/index2.cfm

May 5, 2009
Hello Mathew. Congratulations on the renovations on your theatre— it is nice to know that people are dedicated to theatrical venues within schools. In regards to picking shows, the obvious recommendation is a show with potential for a simple/minimalist set so that most of your stage space can be utilized for acting/staging. I am also assuming that you want a sizable cast and so my suggestions will not include casts under 10 members. One of my favorite “golden age” musicals is Sandy Wilson’s The Boyfriend with a cast of around 20. I did a production at University of Missouri St. Louis with very minimal set (the setting is the French Rivierra) on a stage space smaller than what you have described and it worked wonderfully. Also, shows with a storytelling style may play nicely in your space. Godspell is always a fun, high energy, full of freedom choice. Another wonderful biblical favorite of mine with MANY featured roles is Children of Eden—very little dancing, wonderful Steven Schwartz songs and no extensive set required. Look into Schoolhouse Rock LIVE! and you will definitely get applause from teachers. The show traditionally only has about 10 characters, but this can be spread out to many more. Our production had three different “sub-casts” that performed every 3rd song. Hope those suggestions help. Feel free to contact me or any MTI licensing rep with further questions or advice. -Erik