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Typical budget for a show? 
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Fresh Face
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Joined: Sun Mar 20, 2011 8:03 am
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Post Typical budget for a show?
I'm a high school choir teacher who has been blessed to take over the drama productions this year. I am no stranger to the acting side of things (I've been doing community and regional theatre for over 20 years), but as far as the production side goes, I'm having to learn as I go. We did a musical, "No No Nanette," in the fall and just finished our spring play, so now I am looking at next year. Looking at the students I will have to work with, I think "Seussical the Musical" will be a good fit for us. What concerns me now is the budget I must work under.

So what is your typical budget for a show? I realize that this varies WILDLY depending on so many factors, but how much is reasonable? I am trying to use some of my remaining budget from this school year to offset expenses for next year, so that will help, but here are my numbers:

I have $1000 given by the board each year for the musical. This money is provided each year and if not used, it goes away. This year, that just barely covered the licensing fees and rental costs. I have a second budget account which carries over from year to year, but must be replenished by our ad and ticket sales. Right now that account has about $2500 in it. We made money on "Nanette" this year because I kept sets intentionally simple, using things we already owned. I also asked students to provide their own costumes in many cases, and in all other cases, costumes were purchased at Goodwill for very cheap.

My plan for "Seuss" was to pay most (if not all) of the licensing fees and such out of my current choir budget since I lose that if I don't use it by the end of the year. However, this show is going to be even more expensive than "Nanette". The licensing and rentals alone are killing me- $550 for the material rental (plus $400 for an extra month of rehearsal- I don't see us putting it together in 8 weeks when we're only rehearsing 6 hours a week), $400 deposit (I need to check where the deposit from "Nanette" went), plus $165 a night in royalties (we typically do two performances, although I'm considering adding a Sunday matinee). According to my lousy math, the total cost up front will be $1845 (if we go three performances). I know that's not a TON, but still! I'm also looking at purchasing some LED lights to add color- our current lights are only barely sufficient to light the stage and provide no color.

I know it takes a lot of money to produce live theatre, especially musicals, but I also don't want to put us in a terrible place in the future by draining our second account. So how does your typical budget break down? What percentage goes to licensing, rentals, royalties... just the basic fees to get the rights to perform the show?


Sun Mar 20, 2011 8:47 am
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Supporting Player
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Post Re: Typical budget for a show?
Can you and the kids do fundraising to bring in extra money to spend on the show? If so, it could be a great source of funding. :)

Good luck with the production. :)

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Tue Mar 22, 2011 8:17 pm
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Post Re: Typical budget for a show?
Id say it really vary and the basic rule seems to be "the more money you have the more youll spent." If you keep track on expencive items like costume and props and use DIY a lot its possible to do miracle on a very tiny budget. Also its good to see what other parts off the school (like sewing classes, metal work and other practice classes) could do to help you. Foundrasing and even a small fee for every ticket could be a great ad to the budget. It could also be a good idea to if there is any local companies that can sponsor you with items or money.

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Wed Mar 23, 2011 3:10 am
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Fresh Face
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Post Re: Typical budget for a show?
I have directed Seussical Junior several times and am now involved with the full version for the 2nd time. The full version is expensive and does not add that much, imho.

You could probably do the full version on your budget if you are careful of your set costs and you get creative with costumes.

The Junior Version is also an option, and for Seusscial it is a good option. The show runs a little over an hour and the cost is $550 for the entire set of scripts, score, royalties, etc. for a full year. You could perform the show 20 times for the one price of $550. Professional companies do the Seussical TYA version - which is basically the Junior version (also runs about an hour), so the Junior version is not 'beneath" high schoolers. Also, if you want a longer show experience, you can do pre-show stuff with Seuss characters like Thing 1 and Ting 2 and others.

Doing a Junior version allows for more elaborate sets and costumes in your budget, allows you to make some money on the show for the next year AND would give your students an opportunity for outreach. Elementary schools in your district would want to come see the show during the school day for a reduced ticket price (typically $3-5 per student) or you can bring the show to their school for a flat fee if you make your set portable. These are wonderful opportunities for older students and elementary students alike. It will also give your program a boost in terms of audience building for future shows and would make Seussical a cash cow rather than a drain on the budget.

Just a thought.


Thu Apr 07, 2011 4:17 pm
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Post Re: Typical budget for a show?
I've been involved (directing, assistant directing, etc.) in the teen musicals at a local community theatre, and our allotted budgets for these shows tend to be around $4000 on average, though I tend to stay under budget and spend around $3000 total. For Once Upon a Mattress, my last show, our materials cost about $1850 and we spent about $3200 total, spending about $1350 on the show itself. We probably could have cut our costs a bit more than we did, but oh well.

Do you have any community theatres or other schools in the area that may have costumes, props, or set pieces you may be able to borrow? That always helps the budget tremendously. Like someone else mentioned, getting local companies to sponsor you is also always a great plan - selling ads in the program and stuff like that.

I would, however, try to stay away from doing the Junior version instead, as someone else suggested. Even MTI's website says that it's meant specifically for elementary and middle school students, and it doesn't give students the full experience of producing a real show. Plus, the cuts tend to be awkward and extensive. Just my two cents. :)

Break a leg on your show!


Tue Apr 26, 2011 7:12 pm
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