How to Put on a High School Talent Show pt 2

Well, we did it. We put on our third talent show at North Salinas High School in April. What did we learn? Tons! Here is our second installment on putting on your own high school talent show.

Start Your Show with a Company Number

Company Number

Company Number

While it seems odd, kids performing in a talent show may feel isolated especially if they are a solo act. Get kids connected and feeling part of the entire show by starting with an easy company number. Can’t dance? No worries, the dance groups always know how to choreograph newbies. If most of your talent isn’t comprised of dancers, have each group run in dancing, striking cool poses, to a snappy contemporary song. By having all the talent out on stage at the opening, either voguing poses or in an easy choreographed number, your audience knows the show is ready to start and performers will work off some of that nervous energy.

Establish a Performance Order that Ensures Variety

While our students ran both the dress rehearsal and the show, I decided on the order. Can we say tightrope balancing act? Since you started with a company number, it’s good to keep that energy flowing. Have your next group perform that makes a ton of noise and/or movement. Then you can start to slow things down. If you can help it, don’t put too many solo acts back-to-back. A little singing, a little dancing, throw in some spoken word, a heavy metal band, a light show. Of course, you schedule the awesome talent you have–but keep your audience foremost in mind. Listening to five solo singers [three who occasionally are flat] in a row can be daunting. Spice it up!

End Each Act with a Showstopper

You want your audience to return after intermission and you can ensure this by making them hungry for more. Put a strong dance troupe or an energetic singing ensemble right before your break. This formula works for virtually every Broadway musical I have ever seen–no need to mess with this formula. You can see a short clip of how we ended this spring’s show below.

Do a Sound Check

Before your audience arrives, and prior to rehearsing that company number, make sure each performer knows where they will perform and how loud their sound/mic should be. Let the singers sing a couple of bars, allow the dancers to run their opening, make sure the poets know where the mic stand is. You can quell a ton of nervousness if your performers know what things will sound like in the actual performance space.

Be Flexible

It’s inevitable: you spent hours figuring out just the right order of performances, with variety being the key, and then some kid flakes on you. It happens–don’t spend one minute more dwelling on it. Get over it and make sure your stage manager knows so she/he can alert the upcoming performers. Now, if that kid wants to be in the next show, you have a tough decision to make…

Give Thanks

Thank-you-post-itWhile this should be a given, it’s so important to thank the people who helped in this adventure. First of all, thank your admin for allowing you to actually do the show. It’s especially nice to thank them if they have attended your show as well. Thank your custodial staff who may have worked extra hard to set up your stage, got you extension cords, set out chairs, and about a bazillion other things. I know one woman at work who thanks people with a big plate of chocolate chip cookies. Finally, thank any teachers or staff members who attended. (Kids love to see their favorite teacher at a school event.) You can do this with a mass email a day or two after the event, naming names in the email. Heck, we all like to see your name in print!

Look for more tips in a future installment as we debrief with performers and audience members on what to do differently for our next show in the fall. 

Leave a Comment or Offer Some Sage Advice Below

So what advice do you have for putting on a school talent show? 

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9 replies

  1. I hate that i had to work the day of my last senior talent show! Especially even more sad hearing that it was really goood! Like maggie said hopefully i can make it next year and see what kind of talent we have then!

  2. This talent show was so great! Im so glad I came to see it. All the performances were just amazing and entertaining. I really look forward to attenting next year’s talent show!

  3. I was so bummed to miss out on this show. My friends and family attended and they all said it was spectacular. As you know I am heavily involved in sports and just cant find time to strut my stuff on stage with all the other actors, singers, dancers, and poets. You know I’d be up there if I wasn’t so darn busy!!! Anyway, I love that you find a way to incorporate every person that wants to be a part of this show. Every person deserves to be a star on stage at one point in their life.

    • Kayla: The show was fantastic–so sorry you had to miss it, although we understand how busy you seniors are!

    • Like what Kayla said, I wish I didn’t miss out. I am involved with sports and busy with other things as well. I also wish I performed, I’ve performed dances ever since I was about 4 years old, unfortunately I never had a chance to show my talent to north high, and I’ve thought about it, if I have time next year I think I will plan on auditioning in the next talent show.

  4. Talent show was so awesome! I think we had a lot more acts because many students were inspired by others from last show. They realized that if those students weren’t afraid, they shouldn’t be either. Just a thought, but can’t wait for next years!

  5. Dear Rillingale,
    Talent Show was AMAZING. My friends had a lot of fun and they hope to see another one of your shows again. We shall see how many amazing acts there will be yet again next year. Stay awesome.

    P.S. I love all of these tips you put out for the NSHS students of Theatre so that they can get better.

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