Choice Musical Theatre Productions for Young Casts and Audiences
Many Directors who work with young casts, or whose audiences are mostly school-aged, find themselves wondering which script is “right” for their next production. In many cases, the best decision for these groups is a Theatre for Young Audiences, or TYA, production. 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. They then apply copyrights to their version of the story. 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 often feature smaller casts, shortened musical numbers, and easily attainable sets. We have collected a list of some of the top fairy tale themes to assist in selecting you next show.
PINOCCHIO 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 require as few as ten actors and chorus members. Conversely, it can easily be expanded to accommodate a larger cast. The musical numbers are easy for younger actors to learn and do not require seasoned vocal ability. 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 and you can easily taper down the scenic requirements according to your preferences and budget. PINOCCHIO is available for licensing by both MTI and Rodgers and Hammerstein.
THE EMPEROR’S NEW CLOTHES
This 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. You can pull this show off with as few as five cast members or as many as twenty. 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.
If 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.
Other TYA Options and MTI’s Junior Collections
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. These drops are smaller in size, but they are still packed with all of the top-notch imagery that you have come to expect from TheatreWorld.