This year, my co-teacher and I are directing a musical that is NOT a MTI show. In case you aren’t familiar with the initials, MTI stands for Music Theatre International. I knew MTI was good, but boy, I didn’t realize how excellent until now. I won’t go into detail, but suffice to say that I highly recommend sticking to MTI shows. You ask the reason why we ventued out of MTI? We weren’t unhappy with their quality or professionalism. A lot of it had to do with the students who enrolled in our class this year and their level of talent. MTI has a plethora of musicals with new ones coming out all the time. Their website is: http://www.mtishows.com.
Several years ago, my artistic director at Presser Hall Performing Arts Center and I ventured to Atlanta to attend the MTI junior theater festival. What a treat it was! It was wonderful to be around other educators that spent most of their school year in the “trenches” teaching middle school students. One of the most exciting parts of the festival us the announcement of new musicals ready to produce! As you may know, I have a very extensive resume directing numerous plays and musicals. It is just what I do. But a quick list for you: Fiddler on the Roof (4), Aladdin (2), Suessical (4), Willy Wonka (3), Music Man (4), Alice in Wonderland (4), Aristocats (3), Annie (1), Sleeping Beauty (1) Lil Mermaid (2), Honk (2), Mulan (1) and School House Rock (2). Whew!
I could speak about the festival in length, however as I mentioned above, this is my endorsement for the MTI Junior and Kids musicals. No one asked me to write this blog post. But I know that many teachers and directors are considering their next musical and maybe this list will be helpful.
So, why these particular musicals? First of all, this company does an excellent job of considering their consumers. Not only are their junior versions, but also kid ones. Juniors run aroun 70 to 90 minutes in length, with Kids around 45 minutes. I use both types every year depending upon the length of time I have and where I am directing at the time. If MTI could receive a grade, I would definitely give them an “A”.
The kit includes the materials mentioned below:
Director’s prompt book–I’ve directed productions for nearly forty years, so I can definitely label myself as an expert. And even with all these experiences, I still need help from time to time. Their prompt book is excellent! The sound and light cues are listed, props, costumes and set suggestions as well as suggestions in the directing of the show. The book’s page numbers are the same as the casts’ so that alleviates confusion. Measure numbers are listed, generally the cast libretto is exactly the same as the director’s. There’s a page that one could copy for auditions, and even guidance for novice directors.
Piano score–It includes cues as well.
Cross Curricular Lessons--Oh yeay! It is always good to have some other department involved in your production. Although I haven’t had the chance to use them because I teach in a very nontraditional school, the lessons are great.
Chorus books–I believe ten copies are part of the kit.
Individual scripts–Trust me when I say, the MTI scripts are the best in the market. The student’s script includes several pages concerning the particular production, a page about stage directions and how to write in one’s script, a page for autographs and several blank pages at the back of the script for cast notes.
CD’s–These are a Godsend for youth theatre. There is usually one CD that is labeled for performance and one for rehearsals. Or both might be included on one CD. Oh my gosh, I don’t know how much time it has saved us having these CD’s. Because music cues are included, students can learn their cues right along with their songs. Plus, you are guaranteed of a well paced production because there is no inconsistency in the meter of the songs–no cast member can slow down the show by singing their song too slowly. Lastly, there is even an “orchestra warm up” at the beginning of the show! Sometimes I use that to signify to the audience that the production is about to begin.
Family Matters booklet: If one’s child has never been involved in a production, its a pretty heady experience. This little gem of a book answers questions about what to expect during the rehearsal and performance process. This would have been a lot of help to me when my own children were performing in productions. How does one deal with your child once the production is over? That’s a toughie, but this book addresses it perfectly.
Choreography DVD--Who does this? This is an excellent idea. Usually, the DVd includes major numbers in the show as well as a step by step rehearsal aide, too. Tremendous help.
So there you have it! I hope you’ll consider an MTI junior or kid musical in the future. I can guarantee you your show will be successful.