At iTheatrics we adapt musicals so that they can be performed by kids in school and afterschool settings. We create these adaptations for a distinguished list of clients including Music Theatre International, Disney Theatrical Productions, Tams-Witmark Library, Inc., and the Rodgers and Hammerstein Organization. Lots of people ask about the process of adapting a big, Broadway musical for kids, so here’s a quick overview of how we do it.
We start by adapting the musical on paper. This means abridging the show to a shorter running time, reviewing the score to ensure it can be readily sung by young voices, and making sure the show’s content is kid-friendly while keeping it true to the author’s intentions. Once we’re satisfied with the paper draft, team iTheatrics does a table read of the adaptation. These reads are lively, always hysterical and quite insightful. We gather notes from the table read, complete a second and third draft until the show is ready to be tested in a workshop production with students from around the country in our Broadway Academy.
The objective of this workshop is to ensure that the storytelling is clear, and to make sure the music is in the best possible keys for young voices. Throughout the process we are also testing the best ways to direct the show with kids, while identifying challenging sections of the show and coming up with solutions. We share these recommendations in the show resources sections that are included with all iTheatrics’ adaptations.
Each workshop culminates in a staged reading performance for the show’s authors, owners, as well as the performers’ families and teachers. Directly after the performance, we sit down with the show’s authors and collect their input and insight. With this critical feedback, we go back to the script to make any last minute changes and edits.
Ready for Licensing
Then we start getting the show ready for licensing. This means creating the set of resources included in all of our adaptations. This includes recording sessions for Vocal and Accompaniment CDs, video shoots in New York City for Choreography DVDs, and writing lots of helpful information designed to make sure that anyone who decides to put on one of our adaptations will be successful.
Once all the resources are created, the show is made available to schools and afterschool programs through the licensing agency that represents that show.
From start to finish, it takes us about two-and-a-half years to adapt a show and get it into the hands of kids and teachers. It’s a whole lot of work but we know that when a kid gets a script from us, they’re going to be transformed by the power of musical theater, and that makes it all worth the work.
Music Theatre International
In 1997, MTI’s Chairman and CEO, Freddie Gershon recruited Timothy Allen McDonald to launch the Broadway Junior Collection at Music Theatre International. That year saw the launch of a single show, Annie JR. Now MTI’s Broadway Junior Collection® includes JR. shows (60 minutes) for middle school performers, KIDS shows (30 minutes) for elementary performers, School Edition shows for high school performers and TYA shows for adults to perform for family audiences.
A ShowKit® for a Broadway Junior title includes:
Student books (30): Student books include the script and the vocal score with an introduction to musical theater and a glossary of important theater terms and vocabulary.
Piano/Vocal Score (1): The Piano/Vocal Score consists of the vocal music and piano accompaniment for the show and it serves as a helpful resource for the music director.
Director’s Guide (1): The Director’s Guide is a basic step-by-step manual in how to produce and direct a musical. It includes an annotated script featuring icon notes with quick tips, design resources (costumes, set, sound, lighting, and props), casting resources, rehearsal resources, curriculum and community connections, and corresponding digital resource materials.
Rehearsal & Accompaniment CDs (2):
The Rehearsal CD features young performers singing the music of the show. The Accompaniment CD features professional, live musicians performing the music of the show without the singing. The Accompaniment CD is to be used for performance.
Choreography DVD (1):
This resource demonstrates the show’s larger musical numbers fully choreographed and broken down into several segments, including step-by-step instructions and adjustments for performers. Should the choreography include any special steps, a segment is included that breaks down those steps for performers of all levels.
Media Disc (1):
This CD contains digital versions of several items included in Resources as well as other essential templates and forms. In many cases, the documents can be edited to meet a director’s specific needs. Highlights include templates for creating a budget, program and rehearsal calendar and sides that can be printed and distributed at auditions.