How to Put on a Musical

A Word to the Cast & Crew

by John Kenrick

(Copyright 2003)

Most of Musicals101's "How to Put On a Musical" is aimed at the producer/director, but this page is strictly for the actors, stage hands, tech crews and everyone else involved in making amateur productions happen -- offstage. Being part of an amateur production is work, sometimes very hard work. You won't get paid a penny. All you will get is the pleasure of being part of the show, and (with luck) an extraordinary sense of accomplishment. Sound like your idea of a good time? Then read on.


In the wonderful musical 1776, there is line inspired by words John Adams once addressed to his wife Abigail –

"Commitment, Abby – commitment! There are only two creatures of value on the face of this earth – those with a commitment, and those who require the commitment of others."

The people organizing your amateur production are creatures of commitment, and they require yours. The question is, are you ready to give it? It can seem exciting to get involved with a production, but when the days and weeks of effort pile up, you may sometimes wonder where your initial excitement came from.

Behind the scenes participation in any show is a serious commitment. If you have other obligations in your life – a job, sports teams, special family needs – you must be 100% certain that those legitimate concerns leave you with enough time and energy to be involved in a show. There is no disgrace in giving those things priority and leaving this production to other people. The only shame would be if you agreed to take part in a show, only to then miss rehearsals and drop out along the way. That would weaken the efforts of the whole team. So know your own limits, and only say "yes" to this project if you really mean it.

This Means YOU!

Commitment is essential for performers -- and for every musician and crew member. So your commitment to this show is every bit as important as anyone who is up there taking curtain calls. Unless the posters get posted, the tickets sold, the sets nailed, the costumes sewn, the lights hung the audience seated, the instruments played and the stage managed, the performers won't be able to do a blessed thing! If you agree to be part of this show, it will be a memorable, enriching experience – but only if you really give yourself to it.

Can you have fun working on a musical? Heck yes! You will probably have a blast doing it – most people do. But its not going to be the kind of fun you have lazing around under a tree on a hot afternoon. It is going to be more like the feeling you get scoring a top grade after studying like crazy, or winning a competition you've spent months preparing for.

Next: Know Your Assets