I have now been involved in amateur theatre for 50% of my life (15 years) and have sat on both my university theatre society committee and my local amateur dramatics society committee.
I therefore know how hard it is to pick a show that is right for your group and how many considerations there are- this is why I have started a new page which features shows I know well, either having been in, been on the production team for or worked on in another capacity. I’m hoping to gradually build this up over time and also ask those that have worked on other shows to produce a guest page. Please do comment with suggestions of shows you want to see featured. Also if there is any other information missing that you would like about a particular show then also feel free to ask away!
This new page can be found HERE!!
Why is show choice so important for amateur theatre?
It comes down to people – firstly do people want to be in that show. Amateur theatre is so accessible now. Where I live in South East London there are over 10 musical Theatre societies within a 45 minute drive from my home. Gone are the days when somebody used to be a member of one society and perform only with that society. With so many societies within easy driving distance of many areas people choose to go to a society based on what show they are doing. They may do one show with a society and then not perform again with them for another few years until another show they want to do comes up and in the meantime perform with other societies. A show needs to be picked that will both attract new members and also keep existing ones. This will vary from society to society. For example the society I perform with tries to focus on new or challenging shows or performing ‘older shows’ in a fresh manner and therefore what appeals to our members may be very different to what appeals to the members of a society that normally performs Gilbert & Sullivan shows. It is also important to look at what the competition around you are doing – if all the societies near you are performing classic musicals such as Oklahoma, South Pacific and The Sound of Music, why not take a different angle with shows such as Rent or Spring Awakening?
It is also important to consider if you have the right kind of people in your society. Whilst you may have leads that can sing the socks off a G&S number can they equally sing the more rocky numbers required for many modern musicals? Alternatively whilst you may have those that can tap to a high standard which is perfect for shows like Lend Me A Tenor, Thoroughly Modern Millie & Mack & Mabel can they hold their own in street dance numbers such as Dancin’ on the Sidewalk in Fame?
The other reason people is important is that this is a hobby which requires people to pay to come to watch and without an audience a society will soon stop putting on shows. By identifying which shows sell well for you hopefully this page will help you decide on similar shows which may also work.
Other considerations –
Whilst what shows do people want to be in and/or see are major factors in deciding a show it is also important to bear in mind other factors including the technical capabilities of the theatre you perform in and your budget for the technical aspect. Some shows require a costume mistress with the patience of a saint, for example Secussical or Hairspray, where as other shows like Godspell can get away with being costumed from the casts own wardrobe.
Finally it needs to be a show you are passionate about. If the society is not passionate about the show choice it is never going to work especially when you bear in mind amateur theatre is just that amateur – it is a hobby and done for love…..not money!!
I’d love to hear from you about other considerations you think about when choosing a production for your company and hopefully I can revisit this post and update it following feedback!!