Category Archives: community theater

high school musical

Most Popular High School Musicals & Plays – Part 1

Oh, how we have missed traditional high school musicals and play performances coming out of the nation’s secondary schools this past year. This type of performance is often a young person’s first outlet or foray into expressing themselves or their art. In fact, many young people get the theater “bug” during their high school years and go on to act for years to come. 

According to a study released by NPR Education Publishing, there are ten top shows that rank as the best musicals and plays for high school level performances. This takes into account the size of the cast, skill set needed, and popularity of the storyline. Theater groups, directors, and producers may want to utilize some of these findings as they begin their search for the perfect show this fall or winter. 

Let’s take a look back at some of the most popular high school plays and musicals to give you inspiration to plan your next performance. 

Top Ranking Musicals 

In the category of highest ranking musicals, the top three include: The Addams Family, Mama Mia, and Beauty and the Beast. Just hearing those names has my toes tapping and some catchy lyrics spinning around in my head. 

The Addams Family 

A comedic marvel, the Addams Family celebrates the quirky differences that every family experiences. The story unfolds as daughter, Wednesday, brings home a “normal” boy who must impress her parents as he begins to date their special daughter. The Addams family requires 10 major roles with a flexible ensemble. The licensing belongs to Theatrical Rights Worldwide

Mama Mia 

Set on a beautiful Greek island, Mama Mia tells the story of a young bride-to-be trying to determine who her real father is. The bride discovers that three men are possible matches to be her true father. The story is told using the hit songs by 1970’s singing group ABBA. 

The cast includes 13 main parts with singing roles and a large ensemble that will need dancing and choreography skills. If this musical sounds like it is one your students would love, the licensing belongs to Music Theater International

Beauty and the Beast 

This favorite musical explores the true meaning of loving someone for what is inside rather than just their appearance. Beauty and the Beast follows the unlikely love story of a village girl who was determined to save the life of her father from the grotesque Beast. She then finds out that everyone has a story and that the Beast is no beast after all. 

The cast includes 12 major roles and a very large ensemble with dancing and choreography skills. If your theater group is interested in this show it is licensed by Music Theater International

Want the complete list of rankings for high school musicals? Check out these resources that can help you determine your shows this year. Don’t forget to check out our scenery and backdrop options that correspond to each show. 

 

Times Square NYC

Hurdles for Broadway to Bounce Back 

Have you ever heard the old adage, “The show must go on?” In the theater world this means that regardless of what happens, the performance will forge ahead. 

Often this phrase refers to continuing the show even if issues persist that could ruin a production such as: an actor forgetting their lines, lost props, lighting difficulties, audio issues, acts of nature, or any number of problems that can pop up in the middle of a performance. In most instances this phrase is a sign of the grit, determination, and positive attitude embraced by the theater community. Unfortunately, even the strength of the theater can not compete against a global pandemic. 

Chicago Musical

The Current State of Broadway 

Due to COVID-19, the 41 houses of Broadway in New York City shuttered their doors and the house lights have gone dark. Nearly two dozen New York City shows have been halted. Across the nation, similar news can be reported in major theaters and community productions. 

Not much stops theater productions from forging ahead, except for maybe a fast spreading virus that thrives in closed environments. As of mid-March most theaters across the country shut down live performances. Initially, Broadway theaters had hoped to open by April 12, 2020 only to push that date back due to the fact that New York City was the epicenter of the virus at the time. The new date was then June 7 of this year. That date has come and gone wth no opening occurring. The latest date being floated is currently September 6, 2020. 

This new Labor Day schedule has even the most optimistic of theatergoers questioning the reality of the date for opening. It’s not that patrons are not anxious to get back to their favorite form of entertainment. In fact, an industry survey conducted by Shugoll Research in early April revealed that 41 percent of NYC theatergoers are eager to return to the theaters when they are reopened. While that number may seem high there are some substantial issues that will potentially delay or stop altogether the reopening process for the “Great White Way.” 

Hamilton sign

Major Hurdles to Opening 

If theaters across the nation hope to open this year, before a vaccine is viable, there are a couple of major issues that will need to be addressed. 

Theaters are historically areas deemed to be close quarters. Chairs are lined up in close proximity in order for as many patrons to see the performance as possible. Orchestras that provide the live music are generally at the front of the theater in an orchestra pit. Actors and stage hands generally are huddled along the cramped wings of the theater until their cue is given to enter the stage. 

These conditions are not ideal for preventing the spread of the coronavirus. In fact, social distancing is a huge problem in most theater venues. 

Owners of some of the largest theaters across America are facing issues of how to keep both actors/stage hands as well as patrons socially distant during a performance. The answer may lie in spacing out the audience, creating larger prep spaces behind the curtain, and decreasing the number of performances weekly to allow for sanitation between shows. All of these solutions are costly and take quite a bit of effort. 

Another major issue that theaters are facing is one of demographics. Nearly 16% of theatergoers are over the age of 65. This is the highest risk category for the transmission and serious illness for the virus. The percentage climbs even higher if we remove tourists from the equation according to a report in MarketWatch online. 

Stay tuned as we anxiously await guidance from federal and state officials as to how our beloved theaters will tackle these issues and how we, as patrons can help. Visit our Facebook page to see more of how you can get involved. 

 

sorry we're closed sign

How We Can Help the Theater Industry 

As of March of this year, most theaters across the country closed their doors. The social distancing guidelines put forth by most state governments required that gatherings of more than just a few people would be banned. This was a devastating, but necessary blow for the theater industry in every state. 

In order to bounce back once the threat of transmission has been lowered, our favorite community theaters, summer theaters, and major metropolitan theaters will need our help. You may be wondering how you can help from the safety of your home? There are a few ways that you can get involved that can help financially and emotionally support this once thriving entertainment industry. 

open guitar case

Donate to a Fund 

One of the easiest ways that theater lovers can help support the industry from the comfort of their homes is by donating to programs specifically designed to support the industry. According to Broadway.com, the Actors Fund may be a good choice. The Actors Fund may sound like it’s just for actors, but it’s actually for anyone who works in entertainment. Its resources include mental health counseling, emergency financial assistance, and primary medical care. The tax-deductible donation will go towards helping people in the industry get back on their feet and be able to get healthcare that they may need at this time. 

Look for similar entertainment groups that help support actors and people in the industry in your region. You may be able to volunteer your time as well as make monetary contributions, depending upon the needs that your state and region has. 

Forgo Refunds 

Another way theatergoers can help is by not asking for a refund for future shows. If you had plans for this summer to see a show or two, ask for a rain check or credit so you can use the money for a show in the future instead of requesting your money back. This way you are not taking needed financial support away and you will still be able to see a show once all of this is over. 

capitol building

Contact Your State Reps 

If you have little resources and can not donate at this time, there is still some action that will only take a few minutes of your time. Call your state representative and request that those in the entertainment industry (such as those that do freelance and contract work) be eligible for medical and other relief benefits that they normally would not qualify for. The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, which represents backstage workers, has created a page that lets you send a letter to your reps telling them to provide financial relief to entertainment professionals.

 

Benefits of Supporting Community Theater 

In our last blog we discussed the grand opening of the Concord Youth Theater in Concord, Massachusetts. This theater was once the home of the iconic Captain America, Chris Evans. This small community theater was where Evans got his start and began his future career in the Marvel Avengers superhero films. It reminds us of why community theater is so important and why we should follow “The Captain’s” lead and support our local community theaters. 

Supporting a community theater can take many forms. Maybe you volunteer your time with young thespians, or maybe you take your artistic talent and create works of art in the form of props, lighting, music, or scenery for an upcoming musical or play. If time is short but you still want to show your support, monetary donations are always welcome to a theater in your town or region. Here is why: 

Nurturing New Artists and Actors

The ThoughtCo, the world’s largest education resource, reports that many successful actors, directors, writers, and choreographers have launched their careers in humble, small town playhouses. Just by attending and applauding, audiences give up-and-coming stars the positive feedback they need to continue their artistic pursuits.

Just like Captain America felt safe to try out his love of acting in a community theater so could the “next big name” in Hollywood or on Broadway, being on stage can help build the confidence and self esteem of some future actor who may want to go on in the field of the entertainment industry. 

Learning Valuable Skills 

Community theater is not just about learning to act, it can help build communication skills, leadership qualities, and open hearts and minds to understanding people who are different from us. Young and old alike can learn a new skill such as lighting, musicianship, or directing and learning from an older mentor who has been around the stage crew, lighting technology and instruments their whole lives. 

Local Marketing 

Getting involved in your local theater does not always need to be altruistic in nature. Maybe your small business needs to get its name out there. Supporting a theater company is a great way to advertise your services or products. Just think about it. What are people doing while waiting for a show to begin? They are flipping through the program reading the actors bios and seeing the local companies who are supporting the show. Your business name and logo could be seen by hundreds of people in just one weekend! So next time you go to a movie, see a play, or watch a musical, ask yourself where these actors got their “break.” Chances are it was a community theater. Support your local community theater today. Check out our Facebook page where we often post about local shows and theater options.

Captain America: Back to His Roots In Concord, MA 

It’s no secret that we love theater and acting here at Backdrops By Charles Stewart. But we love this local story more than anything! Chris Evans, the iconic Captain America of the Marvel Avengers superhero team, has returned to Massachusetts to help dedicate the new home of a youth theater company where, as a youngster, he practiced and honed his acting skills.

Evans, a Sudbury, Massachusetts native, returned to his roots a few weeks ago to the Concord Youth Theater (CYT), where he acted as a nine year old thespian. The CYT was once his home and he still considers it the place where he grew up and began mastering the talent that he practices in the widely acclaimed Avengers movies. 

The Concord Youth Theater is an Evan’s family second home. Chris’s mother, Lisa Evans, is the Artistic Director at CYT, his sister Carly is the Director of the current show Godspell, and his other sister Shannon is the Costume Designer. The family came together to celebrate the opening of the new permanent home of the Concord Youth Theater. Evans says that he will play the role of “advisor” in this family adventure. 

For several years the theater has moved from one location to another and has now found the funds and location that will allow them to have over 200 audience members for their shows.  

Evans took a few moments to dedicate the theater after he cut the ribbon at the Grand Opening in October. He stated that the theater was his home and where he made his start at what would be his future career. He felt that CYT was a safe place for him to take risks in a space where he could make mistakes. He is proud of his sisters and mom for all the work they put into this small community theater just outside of Boston.