5 Tips for a Successful High School Talent Show


Choreology, a Salinas Dance Crew, Performing at Our Last Talent Show

As a theatre teacher, I know there is a ton of untapped talent on our campus. The students who get cast in a play aren’t the only performers worthy of an audience. We have been successful in creating a safe and entertaining Talent Show on our campus for a few years now. Here’s what we have learned through trial and error and a wee bit of research.

1. Secure Ringer Talent

While talent shows can often morph to a battle of the bands or karaoke central, you need to secure acts your audience [i.e. students] want to see. We have some amazing dance groups on campus. I personally coerce them invite them to perform. At the end of the day, all true performers yearn for an audience. Other talent I hit up include

  • Cheerleaders
  • Students in music classes [think band, guitar, choir, etc.]
  • Students in dance classes
  • Students who are doing performance-worthy activities during lunch [kids playing with yo-yos, for example]
  • Talent from your last show
  • Kids in my classes who I know are performers: the ballet kids, the standup comics, hula dancers, martial arts

2. Get More Talent

Now that you have some talent that will feel comfortable taking the stage, advertise your need for performers. We put blurbs in our student announcements, I harangue remind my students on a daily basis, we pepper the walls with posters, we update our school’s websites indicating we are looking for performers. Soon the word is spread and the performers come from far and near to sign up to perform.

3. Provide Parents & Students Performance Info 

We like to provide a one-page handout with all pertinent details of the Talent Show. Things to include:

  • Performance date[s] and time 
  • Dress rehearsal date and time
  • Is there an audition for your talent show or can all who sign up perform?
  • Who is eligible to perform [Must all performers be students from your high school? Can teachers perform? Must students be academically eligible?]
  • How much and where to purchase tickets
  • What time will the door opens on performance night
  • Who is running the show–is it run by students or adults–who’s in charge during the show and all rehearsals?
  • Content policy–what is appropriate for your audience? 
  • What happens if a performer is not ready–who decides they cannot take the stage?

Along with the handout, we include a contract that students and parents must sign indicating approval. This is due no later than the week of performance.

4. Schedule a Dress Rehearsal

You need to know if your performers are ready and a dress rehearsal lets us all know if a kid is prepped to perform in front of 500+ people.  Our student stage manager runs this rehearsal whereby we establish the order of the show. All groups get the opportunity to perform their act for the entire group. Those students who are not ready for an audience are invited to come back next time. 

Have two or three students serve as MC’s. We find that an ASB Leadership student is a natural fit for this. So too are the theatre kids. You need kids who can improv with grace & style. Yet the MC’s must know what each group is about, so make sure the MC’s are there for the dress rehearsal taking notes on all the performers. 

5. Cut Groups that Aren’t Ready

You must be fearless in cutting a group that isn’t ready. It helps not only your performer, but also your audience. If a kid needs to start again, doesn’t bring their song, instrument, supplies, etc., or isn’t memorized, they must be cut. Do so with kindness, however. It takes a lot of guts to even sign up for a talent show, let alone perform in one. Cut the group with with grace. 

Opening Night!

You have done your homework. The school knows about the show and performers are ready! Sell your tickets for a fair price, offer lots of treats to sell and enjoy your event! I will offer more in depth articles on how to run a show in the coming weeks, so please stay tuned.

Leave a Comment or Offer Some Sage Advice Below

What advice do you have for someone who wants to perform in a talent show? What other tips would help producers of high school talent show? 

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Categories: How To, Produce

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12 replies

  1. I think a good way to find talent at the school is by going to individual classes and explaining the talent show specifics just how the theatre kids do for a play. Reaching out is an effective way because it is more personal.

  2. I would imagine this article being especially helpful to one who is trying to organize a talent show of their own. It is nice to see all of the fundamentals laid out in black and white.

  3. i agree that it does inspire others to join in this talent shows and give them a chance to show what there made of.

    • I agree with Selena how it inspires others to join talent shows and show their talent. Everyone has a talent and they should take the chance to show what they got!

  4. I agree with what sal said, also this talent show was very succesful and i think it was the best one so far! The entire page about how to plan a successful talent show was great! very detailed.

  5. I agree with what sal said, also this talent show was very succesful and i think it was the best one so far! The entire page about how to plan a successful talent show was great! very detailed.

  6. These are very informative. All of the performers that participated in the talent show last night did AMAZING. Great work putting on the talent show theatre/ Leadership.

  7. These tips were very helpful. I believe that it is very important to get a diverse talent so everyone can enjoy the performance. I worked FOH today at the talent show and I have to say it was a great success. the performers were great and most importantly the crowd greeted them very warmly which shows respect. I enjoyed the talent show and it went smoothly.

    • Thanks for working Front of House Staff last night at the talent show–it was our biggest one yet! I concur that the audience was respectful [even when some sweet singers missed those notes…] and supportive. It takes a lot of guts to perform before one’s peers.

  8. I am really excited for tomorrow’s talent show! I look forward for working FOH, selling telegrams.

  9. This is very helpful especially for people who have NEVER been apart or seen a talent show and want to plan one.

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