How do I put on a Disney show?

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If this is your first time licensing a show, we have created a step-by-step instructional guide: LICENSING 101.

What is a performance license?

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When writers (book writer, composer, lyricist) create a show, their work is considered intellectual property and is subject to copyright law. This allows the writers to control how their work is produced and by whom. An organization needs to obtain the performance rights – in the form of a license – to a copyrighted show before it can be produced. Music Theatre International (MTI) and Samuel French are responsible for licensing Disney titles. Presenting a show without a performance license is both unethical and illegal and may result in criminal punishment under the law. Licensing representatives will guide you through every step of the process, including fees, contract terms, and script/score materials.

Who do I contact to get started?

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Music Theatre International (MTI) is the dramatic licensing agency through which Disney licenses the performance right to most of our titles. Once you’ve decided on a show, MTI will be your go-to source for information and assistance. Visit mtishows.com or call (212) 541-4684.

Shakespeare in Love is licensed exclusively through Samuel French. For inquiries about this title, call (866) 598-8449 or use the Live Chat feature at samuelfrench.com.

Under what circumstances do I need to purchase a performance license?

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A performance license is needed whenever a show is presented in front of an audience (no matter how many people). Even if you don’t plan on charging admission, a performance license is still required. This includes classroom presentations, benefits, or private shows. The materials supplied by the licensing agency are the only authorized stage versions of Disney shows. The use of any other version is illegal.

Do we have to pay for the rights if we don’t charge admission?

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Yes. By licensing the rights to a show, you are paying for the privilege to use the intellectual property that the writers have created. Any free or benefit performances are taken into account when fees are quoted. In many cases, Disney JR. and KIDS shows can be licensed for an affordable flat rate that includes materials and the right to perform the show as many times as you like for one calendar year. Contact your licensing representative for specific price quotes.

Do we have to pay for the whole show if we are only going to perform parts of it?

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Yes. The only way to obtain a legal version of a Disney show is to pay for the rights to the entire show. Also, the material you license is covered by copyright law, which protects the integrity of the authors’ work. Any proposed changes to the show need to be approved by your licensing representative before they are implemented in your production.

What is included with my performance license?

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The cost of a performance license includes the royalty that is paid to the authors and the materials fee.

Our shows are priced based on seating capacity of your venue, the number of performances you plan to present, and your ticket prices. These variables are taken into consideration when calculating the price for your proposed production. Some organizations may qualify for a flat-rate licensing fee for our JR. and KIDS musicals. Please contact your licensing representative to check your eligibility.

Check the show page for more information on the standard materials included for each title.

Can I read the script before committing to a show?

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Of course! If you can’t decide which show you’d like to license, consider ordering perusal scripts. To help make your decision easier, licensing agencies will send you the full script to read before you request a license. Reference recordings are also available, so you can have an opportunity to hear the show’s musical score. Please note: Receipt of a perusal does not necessarily indicate that a title is available for production. Make sure you have received a valid performance license before proceeding with any announcements, advertising, or production plans.

How far in advance should I apply for a license?

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The sooner, the better! Licensing applications are accepted up to one year in advance. We recommend that you apply for a license as soon as you’re interested in doing a Disney show. Of course, the process of obtaining a license is expedited by your speedy return of the contract and payment.

Can we make any changes to the script, such as adding more characters or adding/cutting a song?

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No. When you obtain the rights to do a show, you are agreeing to mount the show according to the script (book, music, and lyrics) you are provided with. Making unauthorized changes to the script violates copyright law, is illegal, and may result in the loss of your license and criminal punishment under the law. Please remember that when you acquire a license, you are agreeing to use your artistic vision to bring the script and score to life as written. Any proposed changes to the show need to be approved by your licensing representative before they are implemented in your production.

What do I do if I want to change the dates, number of performances, venue, or ticket prices for my production?

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Any changes that depart from the information filled out on your licensing application must be submitted to the licensing agency immediately as they may affect the availability and conditions of the license.

What if I don’t have an orchestra/live musicians?

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Fully orchestrated accompaniment and guide vocal tracks are available for most Disney musicals. Contact your licensing representative for more information.

Can I use the official Disney show logo to advertise and promote my production?

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Like theatrical licensing, artists require a royalty for the use of their design. Logo Packs are available for purchase and are the only legal way to use the official Disney artwork created for the show. Brand guidelines are included with the logo so you know how to properly use the artwork to promote your show the way the designer intended. Contact your licensing representative for more information.

HELP! I’ve never directed or mounted a play or musical before.

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Most full-length Disney shows have an accompanying Production Handbook filled with resources and tips for producing each show. These Production Handbooks are available for free on each show’s page.

All Disney JR. and KIDS shows come with a ShowKit® of materials that includes extensive step-by-step instructions that will help you create your production. The Director’s Guide offers advice on everything from casting, rehearsals, and staging to costume, set, and props design. The Choreography DVD provides suggestions for how to stage and choreograph major musical numbers. Accompaniment and rehearsal tracks are included, which contain all of the musical accompaniment for the production as well as reference guide vocals so your cast can easily learn their parts.

Also visit our blog, Backstage Bulletin, a resource for all Disney musicals, for hints and other helpful information on putting on a show.

Can I film my production?

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An organization must obtain a video license before recording the production. Otherwise, video recording under all circumstances is prohibited. A video license allows you to film an official archival or souvenir recording and also allows parents to record a performance. Contact your licensing representative for more information, including rules and restrictions.