Tuesday, October 25, 2016

How I Direct a Musical with Few Volunteers and Keep my Sanity (I Stay on Budget, Too!)

Like many of you, I don’t have many volunteers to help with a musical. I used to create elaborate sets and costumes, almost always by myself or with my mom, and often, I ended up spending my own money. I realized I was working so hard that I couldn’t enjoy the programs, and I had to disappear from my family and friends for a couple months before each musical in order to get everything done. The following is what I do now to make the kids the stars of the show while also being happy myself. It is not a compromise to do it simpler; I genuinely thing it is a better option to think simply. 

If you like my suggestions below, you might like my "Checklist for Organizing a Musical" available on TpT here: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Checklist-for-Organizing-a-Musical-How-to-Create-a-Successful-ProgramShow-2524307 

Costumes: Students wear a common color shirt or outfit from home. I paint their faces (buy face paint! It makes every kid feel special!). I provide hats, animal ears, and other accessories. For example, every kid has a black shirt, and it looks really sharp on stage. At Christmas, I have elves wear red, green, or blue shirts and nice pants, jeans, or a skirt/dress that hits the knees or longer. Reindeer wear brown or black. I splurged on a Santa suit one year and bought a bunch of dollar store white beards that can be changed out every year. Mrs. Claus can wear a dress from home or you can shop Goodwill for red dresses. 

Through the years I have bought one or two nice bulk costume items. This year, I bought cheetah ears and dog hats from Oriental Trading. I’ve also bought bulk antlers and elf hats. With those four purchases and homemade costumes from pompom balls, hot glue, head bands, poster board and pipe cleaners, my kids look professional on stage. You can see the kids instead of just the costumes, which most parents prefer anyway! 

Set: For years, I painted sets using leftover smartboard boxes, butcher paper, or donated items. It took forever, but since the stage was the main focal point, I felt like I had to do it. One year, I decided to put the risers all on the stage (I have 80-100 kids per musical). Suddenly, THEY were the feature on stage. 

Now, I buy backdrops from Oriental Trading for every theme. Look it up! They’re inexpensive and save hours. I then buy or make some items that hang from the curtains at different levels. I make a “color story” to help it work together. My two coworkers and I can have the whole set decorated in less than two hours. We use binder clips and fishing line to hang everything. I just did an “American Idol” type show, and with a gold backdrop, two gold chandeliers and two columns from Oriental Trading (I do my best shopping there, obviously!), a sign I made, and gold tinsel and lights. My show looked glamorous and was so easy to put together!   

Hope this helps you enjoy life during the holidays!


  1. I think you might be my twin...except you're a whole lot younger! Instead of a backdrop, we now make a hanging banner above the front of the stage and we do headband masks for the kiddos and bright colored tshirts. I just couldn't afford buying costumes with my money any more. Good minds (or desperate minds) think alike, right?

  2. Hi, Linda Sue! I'm so glad to hear from you! :) It's great to hear from someone else who has to prioritize where to spend money and resources. Thank you so much for commenting. I hope to hear from you more! Search "Meg's Music Room" on Facebook and other social media if you want to talk more or email me at megsmusicroom@gmail.com. I look forward to hearing from you!
    :) Meg