The Little Red Schoolhouse Players were founded in 1996 with “OZ!” as its inaugural show. In the following years, the drama program has grown to include over seventy students per musical production, and two different shows each year (a middle school non-musical, and a full-blown Broadway musical with students in grades 3-8).
Past musicals have included Oliver, Crazy For You, Peter Pan, The Sound of Music, The Wiz, Bye Bye Birdie, and The Music Man, Fiddler on the Roof, Beauty and the Beast, and Honk. Non-musicals have included Tom Sawyer, Alice In Wonderland, A Midsummer Nights Dream, Scapin, The Doctor In Spite Of Himself, Romeo and Juliet, and Much Ado About Nothing.
Rehearsals take place afterschool from 3:30-5:00 for 6-8 weeks prior to curtain. Additional sectionals or coaching sessions occur during lunch recess or before school occasionally. Directors of the Drama Program are Ms. Lourie and Mrs. Kinna. For current rehearsal information, please click on the rehearsal schedule link.
Who can participate in the play?
Any third through eighth grader residing inside the Anderson School District boundaries OR attending Anderson School can participate. In-district students attending other schools or being home schooled may participate. Out of district students NOT attending Anderson School are not eligible.
Will my child be “cut” if they don’t sing or act well?
No! Anderson is unique and (in) famous for allowing all eligible students join in the magic of musical theatre. That said, we work very hard to place students in roles in which both they, AND the production, will be successful.
How do students audition?
Sign up for slots on the drama bulletin board outside of Mrs. Kinna’s classroom. Kids will audition with 4 to 6 other students. Come prepared to sing at least two verses of a song from the play we are producing. We may play some improve games, have students sing scales with the piano and try to get a sense of the students’ ranges and pitch. Hint: DON’T wait until the last minute to sign-up OR prepare.
Can my Sprout audition?
Yes, for experience, but not for a specific part with lines or solos. All third graders are cast together and will sing in two to four songs. They sit in the audience during a majority of the performance, coming on and off the stage, or singing from the aisles. This is a gentle introduction to the production process without the rigors of a huge time commitment.
How/when do we learn about parts?
There will be a “cast call” the week before rehearsals start. It is usually during the older students’ lunch, in Mrs. Kinna’s room. There, we announce parts, hand out cast lists and scripts, and answer questions. Most students have at least two parts (unless they are a lead character). This takes time to fully grasp- the different songs, characters, costumes, etc. In addition to a cast list, they will be given a “Cast by Song” list to help you sort out their appearances. (All of this is also posted on line). We try to create as many opportunities as possible to get kids on stage by doubling roles, writing new scenes, and creating new parts. As the production unfolds, many new parts and opportunities arise for young actors. Do not be surprised if your child comes home three weeks before curtain to inform you they have 2 new lines to memorize, a new costume and song.
How can my child get a “bigger role” next year?
Casting is complicated and very play-specific. In a sense, your children are always auditioning for next year. On set, we are looking for students who embrace even the smallest roles with gusto and enthusiasm; actors that come to rehearsal everyday PREPARED; kids with good attitudes and behavior; and performers willing to take risks, try new things and be directed.
How do I know when rehearsals are?
The Anderson School website posts our schedules and the directors email schedules directly to families. Bulletin boards at school always sport schedules for two-week blocks.
What are lunch rehearsals?
The directors meet with soloists and small groups over lunch times. Lunchtime rehearsals are during the older kids’ lunch, 12:00-12:40. 5th – 8th grade cast members should bring their lunches right away to rehearsals and plan to gobble while working. Younger cast members will eat first with their peers and then report to rehearsal at 12:00. Their teachers will know on these days and excuse them from classes.
We have piano on Tuesdays and violin on Thursdays….
Everyone is busy! Drama registration forms include a spot for you to indicate planned absences and commitments. The play is a big time commitment. We do our best to mix up the schedule so that “ALL CAST” rehearsals fall on different days throughout the week. If your child is very, very busy we will consider them for group songs or cameo appearances. We suggest planning ahead for the last two weeks of rehearsals by eliminating as many conflicts as possible. If your child will miss rehearsal, please let us know in advance.
Are there weekend rehearsals?
No. We have eliminated all weekends from the schedule EXCEPT for the production weekend. Set, costume and prop crews toil most weekends, but that is primarily adult staff.
Are there scholarships available?
Absolutely! We try to keep our program affordable for all families. We are still a great bargain in the world of after school theatre programs. The drama registration form has a place to request scholarship for part, or all, of the registration fee.
How are cast members costumed?
Our amazing army of costume coordinators makes sure cast members have all of the pieces to the various costumes your child wears on stage. Because we try to get kids on stage as much as possible, they will play multiple roles, which means multiple costumes. Families are frequently asked to provide specific items like black socks, shoes, or a particular shirt for certain roles. The costume department will be very clear about these and give you plenty of notice to gather items. Additional clothing you purchase for your child is yours to keep, while the drama program keeps all the other items for future shows.
Do I have to read all of these emails?
Yes. We do a great job letting you know what is going on. Please read, as that is where you will learn if a rehearsal has been changed, or if your child needs black socks.
I have no time. How can I help?
When life just doesn’t allow for spare volunteer hours, there are always a few special projects in need of financial attention: scholarships, “surprise” cast t-shirt, backdrop rental, cast party treats. Above and beyond registration contributions are greatly appreciated.
What about schoolwork?
Cast members are expected to keep up with all academic responsibilities throughout the entire production. Down time during large rehearsals is a great opportunity to do homework. Students should speak with individual teachers if keeping up is an issue.
Who provides concessions during the performances?
A few families organize the lobby concessions. We now have a great many items donated from local businesses. Additionally, we ask families to donate, ice, drinks, roses, snacks and labor. We run a BRISK concession business (think hungry 500+ snackers) and count on its income. Look for emails regarding this chance to help with set up, staffing and clean up.
Is there a cast party? Who comes?
A few families organize a celebration at the end of the production. The party includes food, and is usually in the Anderson School gym. Cast members’ entire families are welcome to join. We look for information about the party in one of those pesky emails.
Who has to go to the initial “parent meetings”?
Please come if you are new to the Anderson dram program OR you have not been to drama parent meeting before (you couldn’t make it last year…or the year before).
Do all students HAVE to audition?
No, by simply turning in registration fees and paperwork, you will be cast in large group songs. It’s a great way to get your feet wet and have fun. If you love to sing, have performed before, or would like a “bigger” part, you should audition. Sprouts (third graders) just sign up and are assigned Sprout parts and songs.
Should kids audition with a song from this year’s musical?
Highly advisable. Be able to sing at least two verses of a song that compliments your voice. We want to see you sing and be expressive at the same time. Show us the character, feeling of the song AND your voice! Practice as many songs from the show as you can before auditions. We may ask you to sing pieces from all over the show. You will be asked to sing with accompaniment (no words playing behind you, just music).
What are “call backs”?
For the week (or two) after initial auditions, we call students back to sing and act with other kids to see how they all fit together. Sometimes we are trying to decide between two or three finalists for a specific part; other times we are creating small ensembles within the larger cast. It is both exciting and suspenseful, but we try to make it a fun and bonding time. Our goal is to set kids up to be successful and feel confident on stage. It is a complex, mind-boggling puzzle and we do our best to handle everyone with care.
My child didn’t get the part they wanted…
There really is only one Annie, Mary Poppins, Gaston, Beast and Belle, which is hard even for the directors. First, allow your child to feel the disappointment. We cannot erase disappointment, but we can help kids recover and move on. Help them not blame themselves, other students or directors for the casting choices. After the initial longing for that ONE STAR role subsides, cast members settle into the roles we give them and have a blast. We encourage actors to find the challenge and joy in whatever they are given. Please help us with that ethic; the value of their participation is not based on the size of role, but in being a part of great project bigger than us all.
How do cast members learn their music, dances and lines?
Each family is given a CD with the songs for the show. Cast members MUST practice music, lines and choreography on their own. As stated above, we truly notice those prepared or painfully unprepared for rehearsals (peers notice too!). If your child has lines or songs, they should be working on those before those songs and scenes are rehearsed at school.
How often will my child rehearse after school?
We rehearse Monday through Friday, 3:30- 5:00. Cast members attend rehearsals only for the scenes and songs they are in. So your child may have only one or two rehearsals a week until the very end. Rehearsals extend to 5:30, as we get closer to production week. See schedules for this notification.
Where are rehearsals?
For most of the production, rehearsals are in Mrs. Kinna and Ms. Lourie’s classrooms. The hall, library, music room and gym are favorites as well. Please consult the schedule for special days when we go to the Emerson Cultural Center.
What about Anderson basketball/track conflicts?
You may do both the play and the sport! All cast members on Anderson sports teams are excused from rehearsals that fall on game or tournament days. On days they have overlapping practices, we ask that cast members split their time between the court and rehearsal. We work amicably with sport coaches to create a fair balance. If you accept a very large role in the play, you can expect to have more conflicts and a few harder choices.
Why so many different charges on the registration form?
After years of collecting 5, 10 and 15 dollar checks, we consolidated the check writing for you. It is easier for you, the directors and the office.
What does the registration fee cover?
Ticket sales, concessions, corporate sponsorship, the Anderson Parent Council and participant registration are our primary funding sources. Productions of this scale generally cost somewhere between $18,000 and $20,000. (When we are not flying actors…) Royalties, script rental and orchestration run about $3,000. The Emerson Theatre space rental, technical staffing, sound and light equipment costs in the neighborhood of $5,000. Director stipends were raised last year to $2,000. And then there are posters, ads, backdrop rentals, cast t-shirts, bungee cords, hair spray, lumber, duct tape, costumes and batteries… truthfully it adds up quickly and so many families donate pieces here and there; we are incredibly fortunate to be the recipients of great generosity.
What can parents do to help with the play?
Oh, let us count the ways…we ask ALL families to pitch in. Our productions are the result of a huge community effort. Some will commit 10 hours, others close to 100. Set construction, costume organization, advertising, concessions, and poster distribution, fundraising, snack deliveries. You do not need to paint or sew to feel a part of the grand effort. A shared Google doc will invite you to sign up for a myriad of tasks. If you cannot access the document through your own email, all Anderson students have Gmail accounts.
What can we expect the last two weeks?
It is a busy and exciting time. The rehearsals go until 5:30 or 6:00, and are covering large chunks of the play. Everybody is tired and nervous. Your performers may be getting cranky and exhibiting heightened emotions. They will need lots of sleep, water, healthy food and a simple schedule. If you can, clear their schedules of piano and the orthodontist in advance. The Sprouts’ schedule will be busier as well, but not to the same extent (as olders’).
When does the cast go to the Emerson?
The Anderson bus takes students to the Emerson for a few all-day rehearsals. Families may be asked to pick up children at the Emerson at 5:00 or 6:00. During the last two weeks of the production, students are excused from school at 2:30, taken by bus to the Emerson, and then picked up at the Emerson by families. Dress rehearsal is the Wednesday of production week. Students will be at the theatre all day, 9-3. The details of these days will be provided to you WELL in advance and is already on all of your printed and on line schedules.
How do I get tickets?
We have a new on line ticketing service. The drama program, not the audience members, will absorb the cost of this service. You may purchase tickets (reserved) for any of our performances on line, or at the door one hour before curtain. We suggest you purchase tickets ahead of time. Main floor tickets are $10 and balcony seats are $5. Kids five and under are free. Parents will be the FIRST to know when tickets go on sale.
What is “strike?” Who does it?
“Strike” is the sad dismantling of all things play-related RIGHT after the final performance. All cast members have assigned jobs, including Sprouts, for about a half hour. Then the adults stay and finish. Trucks, drills and willing hands welcome. Strike continues in days following with the organization of costumes and supplies.
What does it cost to produce a school musical?
DRAMA EXPENSES. WHAT DID “ANNIE” COST?
^^Approximate Expenses for 2013-2014
Music Theatre International : $2,100.00
Royalties and Script Rental
Rehearsal Score (computer Program)
Emerson Cultural Center for the Arts: $3,776.00
Theatre Rental, Lighting Technician
Additional Sound/Light Equipment
Independent Sound Technician: $787.00
On-site production week and both performances
Directors’ Stipends (2 directors): $3,000.00
Performance Orchestration: $1,300.00
Computer program/software for performance
Additional Sound Equipment Rental: $200.00
Back Drop Rental: $1,000.00
2 Drops, including shipping
2 performance shots, edit
Capital Investment Purchase: $1,430.00
3 New Hanging Choral Microphones
Poster artwork and printing, tickets*, program*
Batteries, bulbs, bungies, bandages, bagels*: $100.00
Shakespeare in the Schools: $450.00
*most of these expenses absorbed by families working on tasks
^^ approximate because many expenses go unreported due to in kind donations or out of pocket contributions.
Cast and Crew t-shirts paid for by corporate sponsors.