How to Put On a Musical:

A Guide for Schools & Amateur Groups

by John Kenrick

(Copyright 2003)

A low budget elementary school production of Robin HoodThe author and the cast of an elementary school production of Robin Hood. Staged for less than $200, it made a handsome profit for the school library fund.  The set was paper snowflakes, the costumes were home made -- and audiences stood and cheered.

Special Features

So, you've decided to put on a show! Or perhaps your school or community group has decided to put on a show, and you're the one who has to pull it all together? Either way, these pages are designed for you. They offers some basic guidance, and point you towards books and other resources that can help you to make sense of this challenge.

Putting on a musical is not easy, but it can be a life altering event for everyone involved. The information offered here comes from my own experiences. I have directed at the elementary and high school level, and been involved as both performer and production staff with numerous colleges and community theatres. The content of these pages has also been inspired by hundreds of e-mail questions Musicals101 has received. If you have a question of your own, contact me.

A key point: Always keep it legal! No matter how good your cause or your intentions, you are obligated to pay for the rights to any material you present for public performance. Believe me, you can find ways to afford the rights to something you and your audiences will enjoy. There are many options – inexpensive projects, easy fundraising, etc. So please read on.

Examples: To illustrate the ideas presented here, we will follow a fictional amateur production from conception to closing. Two teachers at Henry Higgins High School in suburban New Jersey want to put on a musical – Mr. Pickering is head of the music department, and Ms. Doolittle teaches Junior year English. These dedicated people want to improve school spirit and raise enough money to fund future school productions. Neither teacher has ever put a show together before. (Gulp!)


John has 300 additional pages of creative ideas and practical tips in his book The Complete Idiot's Guide to Amateur Theatricals, currently available in Kindle format through major retailers.

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