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
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.
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…
While 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.
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Categories: How To