The first thing to do is to assess your school’s ability to deliver sets, lights, costumes and sound. You’ll need to know what level of production values your department can bring. If your school has a tech theatre department-great! If not, don’t despair. You’d be surprised how many talented folks are willing to volunteer time and talents to get involved in showbiz!
Once you’ve done your technical assessment, it’s time to look at your pool of actors. If you are doing a musical, then look at your pool of singers, actors and dancers. Some shows demand certain skills like tap-dancing or certain vocal ranges. Some shows are more suited to the mere mortals who want to try their hand at acting. Honestly assess your available talent and make your best decision from there. While you may have certain actors who you feel would be perfect for a given role, wait until auditions are over before committing to any casting. You’ll always have some ‘finds’ at auditions. A ‘find’ is that kid you never really considered for a role who really steps it up at auditions. They are out there!
Once you have a handle on your talent and technical needs, look at the space you will be rehearsing in and performing in (not always the same space). Is it a proscenium/traditional theater with curtains, a fly rail, light grid and orchestra pit? Or perhaps a theatre with moveable seats and a re-configurable stage? Or a ‘black-box’ style theater? Looking at the entrances/exits available, the size of the stage and other practical factors will inform your decision as to what title to choose.
Finally, READ MANY SCRIPTS! You can order reading copies of musicals and plays from any of the licensing houses. You can find a listing of these companies under Scripts in this Resource section on StageNotes.net.