tag: Teachers (3)

Hellfire to Heaven’s Light: Creating a Dynamic Sound in The Hunchback of Notre Dame

When the Disney animated film The Hunchback of Notre Dame premiered in 1996, its score was hailed by critics as some of the best work by composer Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz. Twenty years later, Menken and Schwartz returned to their score and expanded it for the stage, this time bringing it closer to the tone and themes of the classic novel by Victor Hugo.

The stage musical features a Choir, present onstage throughout the show, very much the way the cathedral looms above the world of the novel.

Even professional artists may find the show musically challenging, but the results are well worth the effort put in to master this score. Due to the amount of music and the level of difficulty (including several songs in foreign languages), music directors may want to budget a few more weeks of rehearsal than usual for a musical. Here are some tips and strategies to maximize whatever time you have and set you up for success:

altArchbishop Stepanic High School (White Plains, NY)

 

1. CHARACTER ASSIGNMENTS IN THE SCORE
Since there are several different ensembles (or combinations of ensembles) throughout the show, the libretto utilizes the following nomenclature to help you along the way.

Congregation: a troupe of storytellers, who serve as narrators; performers from this ensemble will become the principal characters, Gargoyles, Statues, Revelers, Soldiers, etc.

Congregant: solo member of the Congregation

Congregants: a small group from within the Congregation

Choir: a group of performers separate from the Congregation

All: both the Choir and Congregation singing together

 

“The musical features a Choir, present onstage throughout the show, very much the way the cathedral looms above the world of the novel.”

 

2. THE CHOIR
The Choir is an integral part of the show and should be treated more as a character than an extension of the orchestra.

When casting your Choir, consider how this production can act as a bridge between your school’s theater and choral programs, strengthening each while encouraging collaboration between different student groups; or, how it can be an opportunity to partner with and learn about other performing arts organizations in your community.

 

altJesuit High School (Portland, OR)

 

3. VOCAL WARM-UPS
The ranges required for both the Congregation and Choir are about two to two-and-a-half octaves. In order to stay vocally healthy while singing this material, it is vital that performers incorporate a vocal warm-up into their routine. Use passages from the score or simple scale exercises to prepare for the rehearsal ahead. While in rehearsal, encourage singers to “mark” or sing at half-voice when they are learning notes and rhythms. This will help them preserve those high notes for when they’re needed most and alleviate vocal strain.

altJesuit High School (Portland, OR)

4. PERFORMING WITH AN ORCHESTRA
Michael Starobin had the rare opportunity to orchestrate this score for the animated film, the first stage adaptation in Berlin in 1999, and this new stage version. The orchestration for The Hunchback of Notre Dame requires 14 players, plus conductor, as follows:

Violin 1
Violin 2
Viola
Cello
Reed 1
Reed 2
Reed 3
Horn
Trumpet 1
Trumpet 2
Trombone
Keyboard 1
Keyboard 2
Drums/Percussion

Menken and Schwartz have created a dynamic score where your cast  and orchestra can perform in styles as varied as Gregorian chant (“Olim”), Broadway ensemble (“Topsy Turvy”), Wagnerian opera (“Hellfire” and “Kyrie Eleison”) and contemporary pop (“In a Place of Miracles”).

Now you can perform Menken’s melodic music and Schwartz’s nimble lyrics.  Listen to the Original Studio Cast Recording via iTunes or Spotify.

For more information about The Hunchback of Notre Dame visit the show page. 

When the Disney animated film The Hunchback of Notre Dame premiered in 1996, its score was hailed by critics as some of the best work by composer Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz. Twenty years later, Menken and Schwartz returned to their score and expanded it for the stage, this time bringing it closer to the …

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5 Ways to Use Theatre to Engage Your Entire School Community

In the collaborative art of musical theater, there truly is a part for everyone! While not every student enjoys tap dancing and singing solos, theater can appeal to all types of learners and engage a variety of skills. Because of its collaborative nature, your musical is a fantastic way to bring a community together. Here are a few tips to engage your entire school community:

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1. Community Night
Many hands make light work! With sets to build, costumes to sew, and programs to fold, there is no shortage of work when producing a school play. Host a community night to help check it all off your to-do list. Invite parents and community members to paint the set, fit costumes and enjoy a sneak peak of a song from your show.

2. Fundraising Group
Organize a group of students and put them in charge of raising funds to keep your theater program sustainable. Students can sell ads in the show program or playbill, organize bake sales, and sell concessions to help fundraise for future productions.

3. Marketing & Publicity Crew
Drum up excitement for your production by engaging a group of students as the marketing team. Students can work in groups to create posters, promotional videos, online blogs, and social media posts to promote your show.

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4. Stage Crew
Many students prefer the challenge and responsibilities backstage to performing. Capitalize on this enthusiasm by creating a student stage crew. Backstage responsibilities can include operating the curtain, orchestrating scene changes, managing props and costumes, and operating lights and sound.

5. House Staff
You’re in the entertainment business, so hospitality is a must! Recruit students and parent volunteers to serve as ushers, ticket takers, and box office representatives for your show. This group of students and adults is responsible for ensuring a smooth audience experience at each performance and can additionally be responsible for creating your show’s program and tickets.

alt

 

In the collaborative art of musical theater, there truly is a part for everyone! While not every student enjoys tap dancing and singing solos, theater can appeal to all types of learners and engage a variety of skills. Because of its collaborative nature, your musical is a fantastic way to bring a community together. Here …

Read More

4 Tips on Recruiting Kids for Musical Theatre

Get the word out: There’s a role for everyone in the theater! Take time to build your musical theater program through active recruitment. Here are a few ideas:

1. Hold a pre-audition workshop where you teach everyone an audition song and some fun choreography. This is a great way to introduce kids to the audition process without all the pressure of an actual audition.

2. Offer a backstage tour and a technical theater workshop, then recruit your stage crew from the kids who show interest.

3. There’s nothing like a personal invitation. Simply approaching a student and saying, “I really think you’d have a great time in our upcoming musical – will you audition?” can really make a difference.

4. Have your students perform a number from last year’s production at an assembly, the mall or any place families gather. Hand out flyers announcing your auditions for this year’s show.

Get the word out: There’s a role for everyone in the theater! Take time to build your musical theater program through active recruitment. Here are a few ideas: 1. Hold a pre-audition workshop where you teach everyone an audition song and some fun choreography. This is a great way to introduce kids to the audition …

Read More