The High School Student News Site of The American School in London

The Standard

The High School Student News Site of The American School in London

The Standard

Check out our latest issue

Performing Arts teachers shine spotlight on process to prepare high school musical

Ailish Herrmann
The High School Performing Arts department selected “Anything Goes” as the fall musical Sept. 4. The announcement this year was two weeks delayed as the Performing Arts teachers needed more time to secure the copyright.

The High School Performing Arts department announced “Anything Goes” by Guy Bolton and P.G. Wodehouse as the annual fall musical Sept. 4, two weeks later than past years when the production was revealed on the first day of school. Drama Teacher Todd Sessoms said thorough planning goes into choosing and then preparing the school musical, especially surrounding copyright restrictions with the school’s proximity to the West End. 

Sessoms said that there are two main publishing houses, Concord Theatricals and Music Theatre International, that hold the rights to most musicals and must be contacted to receive permission to put on the play. 

“We have to apply for the right to put on a show because most production houses want to ensure that there aren’t too many of the same plays happening anywhere,” Sessoms said. “We are a school, so we have some leeway. However, we must be careful to ensure that we do not break intellectual property law.”

In addition, Sessoms said the announcement of the musical was later this year because he “hadn’t received official confirmation from the publishing house until then.” 

Music Teacher Lisa Blacker said because there are so many musicals and productions in London and on the West End, it can be challenging to find a play for the High School. 

“The publishing companies have to check whether or not there are conflicts of interest with any professional shows that are going on,” Blacker said. “Amateur companies are not allowed to put on shows if professionals are doing them.”

Thus, Blacker said timing is important to consider when choosing a show because the school cannot put on a production that begins its theatrical run in the new year, some of which have not yet been announced. 

“We had several plays that we applied for, all of which are in the production process in London in some capacity,” Blacker said. “Some that won’t open until next spring, but because they are in process right now, no amateur company can do them.”

According to Performing Arts Teacher Caroline Stock-Chapin, the director of the pit band, the production house only sends the materials such as scripts, music, librettos and pit books once the application has been approved.

“We have to inform the production houses on how many performances there will be, and a lot of details about what we plan to do if given the rights,” Stock-Chapin said. “Once we have the rights, we are usually sent all the music and scripts needed to put on the show.”

When deciding on the musical, Blacker said the content of various productions must be considered, and it can be particularly challenging to find appropriate musicals from an older time period. 

“A lot of the shows from the ’50s have references that are not appropriate for modern-day stage, but legally, you are not allowed to change anything,” Blacker said. “This is why we are grateful that there is a 2022 edition that we are using for ‘Anything Goes.’”

The school must maintain the show’s original script and format in all aspects of production, which  Stock-Chapin said can make preparing musical numbers a challenge.

“We are not allowed to alter any of the music or scripts given to us, as that would break the laws of copyright, which are taken very seriously,” she said. “When choosing our play, we try our best to make sure that the music and scenes are all doable for our actors and musician.,” 

In order to prepare in time for the shows beginning Nov. 16, Sessoms said the faculty team worked through the summer on set design and securing copyright.

“The show takes weeks and weeks of preparation,” Sessoms said. “We like to get the design down first and then look at the characters. We also always have to look at our students and ensure that putting on the play is achievable.”

Leave a Comment
About the Contributor
Ailish Herrmann, Media Team
Ailish Herrmann ('26) is a member of the Media Team of The Standard in Advanced Journalism.

Comments (0)

All The Standard Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *