Musicals

AlbertPeterson3
Chorus Member
joined:7/21/13
My theater group (that is pretty small, 10 to 13 people) would like to try put on 2 "big musicals" that are usually performed by a large cast and done with big sets, but adapting it to our limited number of actors, and to our performing space (yes, very small too).

We've already done Sweeney (10), Into the Woods (10), Little Shop (, Grease (14)and Kiss Me Kate (10). We're trying to avoid titles like Tick Tick Boom, L5Y, Charlie Brown Brown or revues. We'd rather do our own adaptation than a "naturally small show", if that makes sense.

Any ideas? Thanks!!
Showface
Leading Actor
joined:6/25/14
Ideas
Posted: 6/27/14 at 06:09pm
Company
StephanCasey
Stand-by
joined:6/22/14
Musicals
Posted: 6/27/14 at 06:10pm
Godspell
Anything Goes
RENT
Hairspray
Thoroughly Modern Millie

My high school did Anything Goes one year. I loved that performance so much. It was magical

Updated On: 6/27/14 at 06:10 PM
ethan231h
Broadway Star
joined:5/5/11
Musicals
Posted: 6/27/14 at 07:14pm
Mamma Mia
GavestonPS
Broadway Legend
joined:6/10/12
Musicals
Posted: 6/27/14 at 08:19pm
I don't understand some of these suggestions.

How does one do HAIRSPRAY with 10 people when the story depends on there being 2 segregated communities, black and white? COMPANY may not have a mandatory chorus (I'm assuming the "Vocal Minority" isn't required by the licensing org), but it does require 14 principals (unless one is going to double the casting of the couples, a choice that would seriously unbalance the show).

In contrast, I've seen small-cast productions of MERRILY that worked quite well. I also saw a small-cast 110 IN THE SHADE that dropped the chorus (but they did so with the permission of the authors).

Question to the OP: are you saying your group wants shows with a limited number of principals and a chorus that can be eliminated or reduced to a few representatives? Shows like EVITA and SUNSET BOULEVARD come to mind, if you have people who can sing difficult roles. Both have a handful of essential characters and large choruses than can be reduced. (Since I think EVITA is more about show business than Argentine politics, I always wanted to do a small cast version where the show is staged as a glam-rock concert. I'm not suggesting this is the only way it could be done "small".)



mjohnson2
Broadway Star
joined:11/2/13
Musicals
Posted: 6/27/14 at 08:32pm
Follies
Ragtime
42nd Street
Anything regarding shows stated by this account is an attempt to convey opinion and not fact.
Wilmingtom
Broadway Star
joined:7/18/11
Musicals
Posted: 6/27/14 at 08:35pm
I saw a small-ish cast Allegro at St. Bart's Playhouse back in the 80s that was wonderful, and where I also saw 110 In the Shade sans the chorus. Perhaps the same production Gaveston is referring to. Falsettos has a cast of 7, Working can be done with a reduced cast, and My Fair Lady was done to some acclaim with a cast of 10.
GavestonPS
Broadway Legend
joined:6/10/12
Musicals
Posted: 6/27/14 at 08:43pm
^ The reduced 110 IN THE SHADE I saw was at Trinity Theatre at 100th and Amsterdam. In the early 1980s, so it's not impossible that the same director repeated the show at St. Bart's. At Trinity, he dropped the chorus and reinserted sections from the original play (again, with the permission of the authors or their representatives).

I can't say it was completely successful, but I didn't miss the chorus.
Gothampc
Broadway Legend
joined:5/20/03
Musicals
Posted: 6/27/14 at 08:46pm
I've always wondered if Guys & Dolls could be downscaled.
If anyone ever tells you that you put too much Parmesan cheese on your pasta, stop talking to them. You don't need that kind of negativity in your life.
operavore
Swing
joined:7/19/13
Musicals
Posted: 6/27/14 at 09:10pm
I agree with Gaveston's suggestions. I've seen Sunset Blvd. done with a cast of 13 and it worked very, very well.
GavestonPS
Broadway Legend
joined:6/10/12
Musicals
Posted: 6/27/14 at 09:15pm
^^ Goth, I suppose it depends on how small is "downscaled". Without a copy of the libretto, I count at least 7 G&D principals who can't really be doubled: SKY, ADELAIDE, NATHAN, NICELY, BENNY (or some other gambler), SARAH and ARVIDE.

I can live without the Hotbox Girls if Adelaide is strong enough, but 7 principals doesn't leave many people for the chorus and the numerous other small parts in a 10-actor production. Certainly, the "Sit Down" scene is going to look pretty thin when the gamblers and Salvation Army folk come together.

This is a challenge in many if not most musicals in the R&H tradition. Thanks to Hammerstein, most have a leading couple from separate worlds, mirrored by a secondary couple also from separate worlds and, essentially, two choruses, one from each world. The worlds come together as the leads do. (This is to be contrasted with SWEENEY, which was reduced successfully because it doesn't follow the R&H "formula".)

But a small theater G&D with a cast of 15-20 seems quite "doable" to me. I agree with you that it would be interesting to see.



Wilmingtom
Broadway Star
joined:7/18/11
Musicals
Posted: 6/27/14 at 09:21pm
Gaveston, it wasn't the same director. Tom Briggs directed both Allegro and 110 at St. Bart's with changes to both authorized. He did include a chorus in 110 of, I think, 4 to round out the sound for the big numbers, but did not interpolate anything from The Rainmaker. I seem to recall that when City Opera did it with Audra they also greatly reduced the chorus or am I wrong?
GavestonPS
Broadway Legend
joined:6/10/12
Musicals
Posted: 6/27/14 at 09:23pm
I've also seen a small-cast SHE LOVES ME. You do need 7 really strong principals, but the chorus could be greatly reduced and the shop customers can (and usually do) double as restaurant staff and patrons.
StageManager2
Broadway Legend
joined:10/21/05
Musicals
Posted: 6/27/14 at 10:55pm
Evita. The principal characters are Eva, Che, and Peron. The ten-person ensemble (5 male, 5 female) can easily fill the roles of Magaldi, Eva's family, Peron's mistress, Officers, Aristocrats, workers, since they're not on stage at the same time. For example, the nightclub in Junin only requires Eva, Magaldi, and her family (mother, brother, 3 sisters). "Buenos Aires" only requires Eva since she's the only one who sings in it though Che does comment in the middle. The charity concert only requires Magaldi, Eva, Peron, Che, and the tango dancers Mario & Margarita. And so on. The only two big scenes that require a huge crowd are "A New Argentina" and "On the Balcony of the Casa Rosada/Don't Cry for Me Argentina," but both scenes only require Eva, Peron, Che, and two heavies. The remaining 5 women and 3 men can easily be the workers.

Salve, Regina, Mater misericordiae
Vita, dulcedo, et spes nostra
Salve, Salve Regina
Ad te clamamus exsules filii Eva
Ad te suspiramus, gementes et flentes
O clemens O pia
Gothampc
Broadway Legend
joined:5/20/03
Musicals
Posted: 6/27/14 at 10:56pm
"I can live without the Hotbox Girls if Adelaide is strong enough, but 7 principals doesn't leave many people for the chorus and the numerous other small parts in a 10-actor production."

Gaveston, I'm not sure if the way I'm thinking about it would work. I envision the entire cast being like a Greek chorus. Think of it as Guys & Dolls presented as a morality play. The "actors" on the stage at all times. They function in all chorus numbers but play their respective parts when the time comes. For example, the actress that plays Adelaide may don a feather boa when she plays Adelaide but then the rest of the time she is chorus. So she would lend her singing to "Sit Down You're Rockin' The Boat." I don't know that it would work, I just thought the idea of everyone being seen all the time and being "faces in the crowd" would be interesting.
If anyone ever tells you that you put too much Parmesan cheese on your pasta, stop talking to them. You don't need that kind of negativity in your life.
AlbertPeterson3
Chorus Member
joined:7/21/13
Musicals
Posted: 6/28/14 at 10:03am
Gaveston: Yes, that'e the idea. Principles with tiny chorus, no chorus, or with a few principles doubling as chorus. My Fair Lady and Evita are great suggestions, thanks!

How would you divide the parts in MFL though?

I was thinking that Sound of Music could also be done with 14 (+ 6 children), for example: Maria, Captain, Mother Abbess, Baroness (a nun too), Max, Rolf, Liesl, Herr Zeller/ensemble, Franz/ensemble, Sister Berthe/ensemble, Sister Margaretta/ensemble, Sister Sophia/ensemble, Frau Schmidt/ensemble, Baron/Admiral.
Someone in a Tree2
Broadway Star
joined:10/9/12
Musicals
Posted: 6/28/14 at 05:57pm
A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC has 10 principals plus the quintet (not counting some non-speaking maids).

DO I HEAR A WALTZ? has 10 principals plus ensemble. I've seen it with that ensemble radically reduced.

ONCE ON THIS ISLAND has 10 principals plus ensemble.


Brave Sir Robin2
Broadway Legend
joined:5/20/07
Musicals
Posted: 6/28/14 at 07:00pm
I'm in a production of Evita now with a cast of 30 but we only have 8 men in the cast total. It would be easy to make this a cast of 16. Also, Cabaret and Chicago would be easy to trim down! I'd be curious to see big shows like Ragtime or 42nd Street trimmed down. You could probably do a small version of The Wiz (Aunt Em playing Glinda, Uncle Henry being one of the three friends, even Addapearle also as Evilene).
icecreambenjamin
Stand-by
joined:6/7/14
Musicals
Posted: 6/28/14 at 07:16pm
I planned out a minimalist production of Les miserables for a small black box and I figured out that you could use about15 actors. There was gender bending and costume changes onstage though.
Jon
Broadway Legend
joined:2/20/04
Musicals
Posted: 6/28/14 at 07:28pm
My Fair Lady was done with ten actors around ten years ago at Trinity Rep, directed by Amanda Dehnert. A couple of years later, Gary Griffin did the same thing, and got all sorts of acclaim for his brilliant "original" concept. Yes, the same Gary Griffin who was sued by the late Gerald Gutierrez for stealing his staging concepts for The Most Happy Fella.
IndyTheatreGeek
Understudy
joined:6/25/14
Musicals
Posted: 6/28/14 at 08:36pm
Yes, Sunset can be a good choice. There was a presentation at the (former) Comedy (now Harold Pinter) Theatre in London in 2008 that had the cast also doubling as the orchestra, Everyone except The two main leads played an instrument at some point. Done very much like the 2004 London/2005 Broadway Sweeney revival. Made it a very intimate felling show.
GavestonPS
Broadway Legend
joined:6/10/12
Musicals
Posted: 6/28/14 at 08:50pm
Goth, I'd love to see your "Greek-inspired" GUYS AND DOLLS. And your example just goes to show how almost anything can be done "small" if you have the right concept. (The exception I think are shows like HAIRSPRAY and RAGTIME where so much doubling would essentially necessitate "blackface" performances.)

***

AlbertP, it's funny you should mention SOUND OF MUSIC. In the mid-70s I did an entire summer of SofM in Helen, GA, in a converted candle shop with seven rows of seats. (At the time, Helen had about 200 year-round residents, but was near a summer RV resort. I hear it's much bigger now.)

We had three nuns + Mother Superior. I played all the Nazi parts as Herr Zeller (while stage managing the show). Including those, we had a total of 12 principals plus children recruited from the local Baptist church.

It was a very successful production that ran for many summers. (One was enough SofM for me.)

THAT BEING SAID, the OP might want to check out the thread on licensing violations. I'm sure the R&H organization would have closed our production if we hadn't been too far off the beaten track for them to know about us.

Updated On: 6/28/14 at 08:50 PM
Starship
Broadway Star
joined:7/29/12
Musicals
Posted: 6/28/14 at 08:53pm
I don't know if this was done with special arrangements made with MTI, but I know the Royal Carribbean does the show with a relatively small cast. The doubling I can recall is Wilbur/Male Authority Figure, Little Inez/Dynamite, & Motormouth/Dynamite.
Updated On: 6/28/14 at 08:53 PM
GavestonPS
Broadway Legend
joined:6/10/12
Musicals
Posted: 6/28/14 at 09:03pm
Maybe I'm wrong, Starship. I admit I only saw the show once and several years ago.
broadwayguy2
Broadway Legend
joined:5/18/03
Musicals
Posted: 6/29/14 at 06:36am
Re: Roual Carribbean's Hairspray:
Doubling doesn't require the approval of MTI, though they DO perform the 90 mi ute version of the show. As I recall, they use a cast of 22. Yes, Wilbur plays the Male Aithority roles still in the show and Inez doibles as a Dynamite (common in some small regional stagings. The show also eliminates one of the black ensemble boys (Thad ) as well as one council member boy and one council member girl.
Hairspray can be done with race-blind casting by amateur groups, provided you include a letter from the authors that MTI has on the show's licensing page. Obviously, "blackface" in ANY form is strictly forbidden.

The Alliance Theatre in Georgia did Wizard of Oz two (?) years ago with seven actors and a selection of puppets... A number of years ago, the Chemanus Theatre festical did it with 13.
GavestonPS
Broadway Legend
joined:6/10/12
Musicals
Posted: 6/29/14 at 08:00am
broadwayguy2, as with directorial "concepts", I think the rights holders probably have a legal right to withdraw rights when the doubling rises to the level of fundamentally changing the show.

Obviously, the HAIRSPRAY authors and MTI have made an allowance, though I must admit I really don't understand how the show can make any sense with a white Mabel, Inez and Seymour.

On the other hand, the published edition of CLOUD NINE includes an essay by the author explaining how Act I and Act II characters were originally doubled, but encouraging other productions to experiment with different combinations.

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