WHY STAGE A NEW MUSICAL?
As a school Head of Drama or director of an amateur theatre group we know you are always thinking about the next big production. It’s got to be an audience-pleaser, packed with memorable songs and dances. And above all there must be plenty to do for all the members of your company, not just the handful of leads.
There are some fantastic musicals out there for large casts: Guys and Dolls, Grease, Little Shop of Horrors, Cabaret, Anything Goes... maybe Les Misérables if you’re feeling ambitious and have some first-rate singers and a big budget! But once you discount the shows that rely too heavily on one or two star leads, or those which have unsuitable or dated subject matter, there are surprisingly few titles which stand out. I know, because I’ve spent countless hours reading scripts, listening to soundtracks and watching youtube clips. Even when the songs are good often the script or storyline is much less compelling, which makes life difficult as a director.
For me as a Head of Drama, a major reason for staging a musical is creating a large ensemble. There can be few better memories than being part of an exciting dance routine or a moving finale, and I want to extend that opportunity to as many pupils as possible. Increasingly, the reverse is true in the professional theatre world: producers are looking for shows they can stage with small casts and smaller bands. So schools and amateur companies are the one place outside the West End where the big, brassy show is still an attractive prospect: the bigger the better!
For all these reasons, I started writing original musicals. The busy theatre programme at my school includes at least one major musical every year and I wanted to challenge the pupils with some new material. There’s also something wonderful about staging an original production, free from prior expectations. It brings its own challenges, of course, but it’s liberating staging something which you can really put your own stamp on as a director.
And, of course, I had some ideas which I thought would make great musicals. Each show is set against an epic back-drop, but the stories themselves are intimate, following the characters through the maelstrom of war, revolution or social upheaval. Because to my mind that is mankind’s greatest strength: the ability to survive the most traumatic of events and come out smiling. Or even singing and dancing!
Having one foot in the teaching world and another in the world of theatre feels like a great privilege, not least in terms of the variety of people I get to meet and work with. Among these is John Mann, with whom I have been fortunate to collaborate on what I hope is the first of many co-written musicals, 'Leave it to Puck!'. All of the musicals on this website have been staged successfully by schools or amateur groups. You will find images, reviews and recordings from these productions on each page of this website to give you a flavour of the shows. Have a look and a listen, and if you’d like to get more information about any of the shows just get in touch by email.
We are also keen to provide a platform for other writers and composers out there who have had their work performed but not yet published. If you’d like us to consider featuring your own work on this website, please send over a script, song recordings and any other materials from the production, such as reviews. We can’t promise to promote every musical or play that’s sent in, but we’d be delighted to hear from you.
Alex Thomas, Founder of MoreMusicals