Choice Musical Theatre Productions for Young Casts and Audiences

Many Directors who work with young casts, or share their productions with school-aged audiences, find themselves wondering which script is “right” for their next production. In many cases, the end decision is to take advantage of a production offered in a Theatre for Young Audiences, or TYA, collection. Often times, Directors can find the same TYA storyline offered from two or more rights holders. This is because many of these scripts are based on fairy tales that come from the oral tradition. Storylines that have been in existence for hundreds of years are not blatantly subject to copyrights. Individual rights holders, such as Rodgers and Hammerstein or Music Theatre International, develop scripts for each fairy tale theme and then apply copyrights to their version. This can be a blessing for Directors with younger casts and audiences. As they say, the more the merrier.

Right now, the TYA collections offer a variety of age-old tales. The productions can often be shared with smaller casts, shortened musical numbers, and easily attainable sets. We have collected a list of some of the top general fairy tale themes for Directors who are in search of their next show.


stage backdrop featuring an olde world toy shoppePINOCCHIO is a story that children love. The storyline reinforces necessary values such as honesty and the importance of family,   and makes them fun! This production can be shared with as few as ten actors and chorus members, or can easily be expanded to accommodate a larger cast. The musical numbers are easy for younger actors to learn and do not require the vocal range of a seasoned veteran. Thus, PINOCCHIO is a great option for both young casts and for younger audiences to sing along with. The scenic elements can range from a small collection of PINOCCHIO backdrops and basic set pieces, to full on Broadway-style sets. Troupes in smaller venues can take advantage of backdrops to set all of the key scenes  from Geppetto’s workshop, to olde world exteriors, and ultimately the whale’s stomach. Most productions run just over an hour, so the scenic requirements can be tapered down according to your preferences and budget. PINOCCHIO is available for licensing by both MTI and Rodgers and Hammerstein.


scenic backdrop featuring a stone castle with moatThis is another storyline that Directors can license from both MTI and Rodgers and Hammerstein. While there are several iterations of the tale, all of the scripts promote the values of acceptance and remaining humble. It can be pulled off with as few as five cast members, but can also accommodate up to twenty actors, if you have a larger troupe. The scenic needs for THE EMPEROR’S NEW CLOTHES provide Directors a little more leeway than some shows. You can select from a variety of medieval backdrops to source imagery for both interiors and exteriors. Whether you choose stylized backdrops or those that are more architecturally correct, depends upon your vision for your stage. If you prefer to mix things up a bit, many Directors have opted to set this theatrical production in the Middle East, affording you even more scenic options for your production.


scenic backdrop featuring a stone castle baclonyIf you are looking for a classic fairy tale theme, then RAPUNZEL might just be for you. All versions feature catchy, kid-friendly musical numbers, along with a healthy dose of laughs. Most often set in medieval times, Directors and Set Designers have a myriad of possibilities when it comes to scenery. Your go-to options include a mix of castle and palace backdrops and forest and woods scenery. Within these categories there are literally thousands of selections available to the theatrical community. If you prefer to put a modern twist on the story, Rodger and Hammerstein’s script includes a hair stylist which has led many Directors to design their stages with imagery that is a bit more modern. After all, RAPUNZEL can let her hair down in 2014 just as well as she could in the days of old. If you are keeping your options open, this is yet another fairy tale theme that is also available for licensing from MTI.

This list represents three of our favorite fairy tale themes from the Theatre for Young Audiences collections. There are a ton of other choices for theatre Directors looking for fairy tale themes. From LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD to THE MAGICAL ADVENTURES OF MERLIN, theatrical professionals can search out the script that best fits their production goals with ease. Just like the shows that we mentioned here, most other fairy tale themes are easy to set with your preferred medieval, and castle and woodland backdrops. Directors in search of a more contemporary production for younger casts and audiences can also search MTI’s Junior Collection. These shows come from the Disney catalog and feature scenery and musical numbers borrowed directly from Disney’s popular movies. If you are presenting shows in a smaller staging environment, you can select Cabaret and Black Box sized backdrops for your stage. They may be smaller in size, but they are still packed with all of the top-notch imagery that you have come to expect from TheatreWorld.

New Backdrops Now Releasing for Fall Stage Shows and Special Events

Over the past several months, our Creative Director, Designers, and Scenic Artists have spent countless hours coming up with backdrop designs that will help to define upcoming production seasons. We have looked over our inventory and surveyed the landscape to ensure that we can provide Fantasy castle towers backdrop“sought after imagery” for the 2014 and 2015 theatrical, dance, and special event production cycles. It made for an exciting summer here at TheatreWorld, and we are happy to share the fruits with you today.

Our Team designed and painted enough new backdrops to update 25 popular theatrical show and dance themes. In some instances, we Grand Victorian Row Homes Backdropdesigned a single drop that would improve our ability to provide scenery options for a specific production. When it came to THE NUTCRACKER, MARY POPPINS, and THE ADDAMS FAMILY, our Creative Team designed entire show packages. A summer spent knee-deep in scripts, research, and sketches might not sound like fun to everyone, but it is what gets our Creatives up in the morning.

So What’s New?

Designs Galore

brownstone-a-scenic-backdrop-blog-imageA new production season is best welcomed with new imagery. With this in mind, our team set out to add to our available options for as many show themes and event categories as humanly possible. To beef up our offerings, our team developed a series of exteriors that transforms your production area into everything from a flower-covered meadow to a vintage Black and White Cornfield. We also spent a good amount Vistorian Park backdropof time researching the architecture of the Victorian and Baroque eras. The building style of these time periods provided the basis for over a half a dozen new backdrop designs. Just in time for the fall and holiday production seasons, we will have Victorian and Baroque: parlors, ballrooms, and exteriors available for your productions and events. All in all we have designed, and will officially release, over forty mountain-meadow-backdrop-blog-imagenew drops in the next six weeks. Many of these designs are already painted, dried, and awaiting the chance to support your productions. Take a moment to visit our Latest Backdrops page to get a glimpse of what our Artists have been up to. We will be adding new designs weekly, so feel free to check back soon for even more imagery updates.


Score One for The Little Guy

Wheatfield BackdropOne major push that we have been on, since before summer began, is to increase our number and selection of backdrops in differing sizes. Our 20’ x 10’ Cabaret Series drops and 25’ x 15’ Black Box Series received a
significant increase in both amount of designs and number of overall drops. With more schools, community dance programs, and Castle Chambers backdropquaint event venues hosting productions in need of a higher level of artistry, we just had to answer the call. Theatrical and Dance groups with smaller staging areas and Planners that want to spice up a venue with lower ceilings now have access to a growing selection of backdrops with a myriad of designs. Everyone deserves to be able to support their Log Cabin A Scenic backdropproductions and events with the same style and visuals that larger groups have access to and now they can.

We would like to wish everyone the best of luck in the upcoming seasons. If you already know what you have planned, it is never too early to reserve your drops to ensure availability. We are looking forward to partnering with you to support your scenic needs during these very busy seasons. We can’t wait to hear your ideas and to see the productions that you have planned for your community.

Mike Mathews Elected Interim Artistic Director of Spanish Lyric Theatre

Spanish Lyric Theatre Logo

We are proud to announce that our Creative Director, Mike Mathews, has been offered and accepted the role of Interim Artistic Director for the Tampa, Florida-based Spanish Lyric Theater and SLT Productions. A professional, non-Equity musical theatre company embarking on their 56th season, Spanish Lyric Theater is the nation’s oldest Latin-based theatrical group and the longest-running theatre in the greater Tampa Bay Area. They have been the area standard for Broadway-style productions and a variety of stage shows in Central Florida since 1959. It is a great honor for Mike and one that he is very much looking forward to.

MIkeMathewsMike is well established in the theatrical community here in Florida. Having run the Salerno Entertainment Group since 2003, Mike has played the roles of Director, Set Designer, Performer, Mentor, and Chief-Cook-and-Bottle-Washer time and again. The Salerno Entertainment Group has organized and managed a multitude of touring musicals, as well as Las Vegas-style performances, and continues to do so to this day. Mike also finds time to rekindle his love of singing and acting several times a year, taking on roles in touring musicals presented by Stages Productions. It is these experiences that led the Board of Directors over at Spanish Lyric Theater to tap Mike when their current patriarch and Artistic Director, Rene Gonzalez, opted to step down.

Rene GonzalezBefore we continue, we must thank Rene for his years of dedication to both SLT Productions and the theatrical community in the Tampa Bay area. Mr. Gonzalez has dedicated time to both throughout his career  and has made an impact on countless lives and careers during his tenure. His work in and representation of the Latin Community in the Greater Tampa Bay area has impacted the cultural climate of Central Florida. His influence in the theatrical community has spread the craft  and diversified the productions offered to the community with his presentation of Spanish language productions and culturally rich Latin-themed stage shows and musical performances. Please join us in wishing Mr. Gonzalez the best of luck and prosperity in his retirement.

SLT Productions has a lot to look forward to moving forward. While details are currently being pounded out as Mike works with the current Board of Directors, we can assure you that there are plenty of productions to come. We cannot share any finite details today, but expect to see fresh Broadway musicals and Hispanic-themed productions, as well as other forms of productions from SLT Productions in the very near future. A heavy focus on utilizing Latin actors and stage crews, Spanish language scripts and historic venues is to be expected in the upcoming production season. Mike is looking forward to tackling this new project and helping to ensure that the history and culture of the Spanish Lyric Theater and SLT Productions are around for generations to come. He has a fantastic group of professionals to work with. They are truly a testament to the Tampa Bay area, transcending the theatrical community with their focus on Latin culture.

Largo Cultural Center Technical Summer Camp’s Backdrop Workshop

Summertime presents the theatrical community with the opportunity to pass along the tradition and know-how of the stage show to the next generation. In our neck of the woods there are a number of summer theatrical camps and performances geared towards the younger generations. These opportunities are good for more than just keeping youth focused in the summer. They give kids a direct outlet to express themselves and hone in on their skills.

students at the Largo Cultural Center Theatre Camp pose for a pictureOur team was recently fortunate enough to be able to take part in the Technical Theatre Production camp hosted at the Largo Cultural Center. We love this camp. Yes, camps that focus on acting and vocals are important, however the stage crew needs time to develop too! That is exactly what happens every summer at the Largo Cultural Center. The camp focuses on teaching kids everything from creating and arranging scenery to proper lighting. This year it all culminated in the kids taking part in a production of THE LITTLE MERMAID JUNIOR, acting as the stage crew.

The camp is organized and taught by Joe Ingrao, a veteran techie in the theatrical industry with years of experience teaching the craft. He ensures that the kids in his courses know the proper way to prepare a stage, set lighting and audio and how to do it all safely. Our Creative Director Mike Mathews, along with several members of our team, packed up a selection of stage backdrops and headed down to work with the kids. The day started with talks on how backdrops are developed and how to properly hang them, but it became a hands on experience very quickly.

students hanging a backdrop at Largo Cultural Center Theatre CampThe kids did everything from unpacking the drops, to installing them on the lift system and steaming out any wrinkles that may have set in while the drops were folded. They even learned to hang headers and legs, properly spacing them from the main drop and experimenting with adding depth to a staging area. The lesson didn’t stop there. Once the drops were properly hung the students learned to highlight aspects of a backdrop and to focus on particular portions of the stage with lighting.

Instructor points out damage on Road to Oz backdrop As in any good training session the children learned about how to avoid mistakes.  One of the most impactful demonstrations of what not to do was the installation and review of one of TheatreWorld’s Road to Oz backdrops.  This backdrop had been used by a TheatreWorld client who put intense theatrical lighting too close to the backdrop in an attempt to create a visual effect.  Joe carefully explained what and how the damage was created, but more importantly he explained that if our backdrop had not been properly treated with approved Flame Retardant materials the entire backdrop could have ignited and caused serious issues for the facility and audience.

TheatreWorld's Castle on the beach backdrop at the largo Cultural CentertheatreWorld's Coral Kingdom backdrop at the Largo Cultural CenterPrior to the conclusion of this day of learning the youth team installed the TheatreWorld backdrop show package that was deployed for Largo’s performance of THE LITTLE MERMAID JUNIOR. As you can see the students did a wonderful job hanging the drops and preparing the stage for the show. The performances were the result of a lot of hard work from the team at Largo Cultural Center and the kids who opted to spend a portion of their summer learning about the technical aspects of the theatrical arts. The day with the kids let us reminisce about our summers spent at theatre camp. Camps like this one are a great opportunity for learning and  creating lifelong memories. Rick and Terri of Stages Productions, the theatrical team that worked with the actors for the production, have once again done an excellent job with the camp’s annual production.


NUTCRACKER Backdrop Suite Now Releasing!

This past spring our Creative Team began the process of reimagining the scenery needs for what is often considered to be the preeminent ballet of the holiday season. They started by studying productions of THE NUTCRACKER that date back over a century. The goal was to create a suite of TheatreWorld Signature Series NUTCRACKER backdrops that combined the history and flare of traditional presentations with modern theatrical aesthetics. The end result is a show package of gorgeous drops that hint at both the Victorian and Baroque periods while satisfying the imagery needs of the ballet with a modern approach to design and vivid colors.

We are excited to be able to introduce the first 5 of 12 unique designs that will support productions of THE NUTCRACKER as well as a variety of additional holiday themed shows and events. The initial backdrops will all be available in TheatreWorld’s Traditional Stage size, 40’ x 18’, with nearly half of the designs also being produced for Large Stages, measuring in at 48’ x 20’. As robust as this new package is the initial designs are being produced in limited quantities, so please order early to ensure availability for your production dates.

Our Glass Palace Foyer backdrop was designed for the opening scenes of THE NUTCRACKER. It features an elegant foyer built of hardwood and perfectly crafted windows that reveal a winter wonderland outside. Your onstage imagery transitions seamlessly when used in conjunction with our Nutcracker Christmas Tree drop. The hardwood framed windows and snow topped firs that are featured in the Glass Palace Foyer are re-scaled and included in our Nutcracker Christmas Tree drop, reinforcing that the room has grown by a feat of magic.

TheatreWorld's Glass Palace Foyer backdrop for THE NUTCRACKER

Our NUTCRACKER Christmas Tree backdrop is “bigger than life”. By design the Christmas Tree and presents have been enlarged. This visually accommodates the famous “fight scene” where the Nutcracker and his Toy Army battle with the Mouse King and his rodent followers. This backdrop will easily support your dancers portraying both armies, making the “growth” of the toys and rodents that much more believable from a visual standpoint.

TheatreWorld's Nutcracker Christmas Tree backdrop for THE NUTCRACKER

The Christmas Present Legs were designed to work accordingly with the Christmas Tree backdrop. The legs feature larger than life presents, a variety of popular toys, and even a gingerbread house for the Gingerbread Army. All of the imagery is sized to accommodate the perspective that the dancers are in fact the size of toys. This theatrical leg package can be used to mix up your on-stage imagery, add depth, or to widen your stage.

TheatreWOrld's Christmas Present Legs

Our Winter Solstice backdrop portrays a classic winter night with a full moon and beautifully detailed snowflakes. This backdrop was designed to support scenes that take place in the Land of Snow. As with many of our other holiday and winter backdrops that provide imagery for woodland snow scenes this drop is sure to be a go-to for a variety of holiday themed recitals and events.

THeatreWorld's Winter Solstice backdrop depicting general winter imagery for THE NUTCRACKER

In keeping in tune with necessary imagery our team has developed our Classical Kingdom of the Sweets backdrop. Inspired by the set design concepts of the traditional Russian ballet offerings this backdrop delivers fantasy based imagery with a good dose of class. All of your favorite sweets make a cameo, along with set pieces that are painted into the backdrop, leaving the stage itself to the art of dance.

TheatreWorld's Classical Kingdom of the Sweets backdrop for THE NUTCRACKER

Our Teams are currently hard at work finalizing and painting the remainder of TheatreWorld’s NUTCRACKER suite. In coming days and weeks our backdrop rental inventory will have additional selections including: 2 Baroque Ballroom backdrops, 2 Victorian Ballroom backdrops, and 2 styles of Victorian Parlor backdrops. All of these upcoming designs are scheduled to be in inventory by the end of the summer and will be available for the upcoming holiday season. We have a sneak peak at the upcoming Baroque Ballroom backdrop in the form of our official artist’s sketch. We may change a nuance or two, but the image below sums up what we have in mind for a high-end baroque interior. With this many imagery options you are sure to be able to share this classic holiday ballet with imagery that meets your exact vision.

Baroque Ballroom artist's sketch

While THE NUTCRACKER has been a main focus for our Creative Team, they have also developed entire show packages to support THE ADDAMS FAMILY and MARY POPPINS (expect MTI to release the rights to MARY POPINS this fall) this summer. They have also developed an array of individual backdrop to strengthen the available imagery for popular theatrical, dance and event themes. Feel free to visit our Latest Backdrop Page to see what’s new!