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Musical Theater Rehearsals

I am music directing a musical this fall, which I've directed musicals before. But I've always struggled with scheduling rehearsals. I am not sure how I should do it. Should I call men and women seperately? There are leads, so I call them by themselves or do I rehearse by each song?
on August 4, 2012 2:39pm
Different directors do it different ways.  I did a big hand-drawn spreadsheet as I planned for the musical. Since I rehearsed on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays after school, I had 3 columns and then went down the weeks leading up to the show.  I did mine by Dance, Drama and Music for the 3 rehearsals each week, because I could only get the performance area once a week until 4 weeks before the show. 
Planning each rehearsal, I tried to only call certain people for one rehearsal. So, if say I was doing 2 musical numbers that involved the "newsboys", I would schedule both of those musical numbers for one rehearsal, and not call anyone else. (I wanted to have as few students in the rehearsal room as I could, for each rehearsal.)  If I was rehearsing solos, I might call up to 5 students who had solos.  If I needed to rehearse solos within a group number, I would schedule rehearsal for the group number, and then have the soloists stay a little later to work on their part, until they were secure. 
When scheduling drama rehearsal, I had a separate spreadsheet with each Scene listed. Then I went through and decided who was in what scene. I would schedule rehearsals with the same people who were involved. It was kind of crazy at time, such as, "I'm rehearsing scenes 1, 5 and 6 today," but the parents (who had to pick up the students) liked it better that they didn't have to come so often.
I've known directors to just call in the leads, just call by scenes or musical numbers with no thoughts about how many times one person has to come to rehearsal.  This worked for me, in my situation.
Applauded by an audience of 2
on August 5, 2012 8:27am
The best strategy that I've seen/used is Big to Small. Schedule all your largest chorus numbers at the beginning of rehearsal, then schedule smaller numbers as the night progresses. That way, as you finish large numbers, students that are no longer needed that evening can leave earlier, and don't feel as though their time is being wasted sitting around waiting for a certain song to come up.
Obviously, this only works in the beginning and mid-stages of a musical. Once you really start stitching things together, everyone needs to be there all the time.
Good Luck!
Applauded by an audience of 1
on August 6, 2012 2:52pm
I agree with what Jeff said about going from big to small. I do a lot of community theatre work, which, at least in this area, comes with a huge list of conflicts from every performer - dates they can't be at rehearsals. So when scheduling rehearsals, I make sure that I've got a complete list of conflicts, then try to work through the music in a way that utilizes people's time in the most effective way.  The directors I work with usually want the music learned first, but they will also make use of someone's time if I only need them for one song - take that person or a couple of people aside who I'm not using at a particular time and work with them on blocking or script or character. I do rather detailed spreadsheets to keep track of who is in which numbers, which songs have been rehearsed, which need extra work, then call actors based on that.
on August 7, 2012 10:58am
Welcome to the madness, Ben!
I always work backwards when scheduling my rehearsals. Let me explain. I start with opening night and schedule the number of full runthroughs I want before opening. Four has always worked well for me, though whatever you want is best. Then I schedule four rehearsals that are runthroughs of the two Acts: Act I, Act II, Act I, Act II, on successive nights. I usually put in a couple of nights to review before the Act runthroughs. Leave that open; by the time you get there, you'll know what needs to be reviewed, whether its choreography, music, or some of the more compilcated scenes. Then I spend the rest of the rehearsal schedule blocking all the scenes.I block out of sequence so those runthroughs of the Acts become important as a way for the actors to finally see the storyline. Going out of sequence makes it possible for you to block all the scenes involving certain characters in one night. I also employ the "big to small" technique, beginning a rehearsal with more people, ending with fewer. You didn't mention whether you were at a school, community, or professional level, but regardless, no one wants to be at rehearsal any more than they have to be. The most important thing to remember is, once you decide on a schedule, STICK TO IT without deviation. Also, if you put an ending time (6-8 p.m., etc) let your actors go at that time, but make sure they understand that during tech week all bets are off! Enjoy!
David Headings
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