Directing the School Musical

Written by Lindsay Price

Episode 147: Directing the School Musical

Directing a musical is a daunting feat. Directing a musical with students can be overwhelming! In this podcast listen to three teachers talk about their experience directing musicals at the school level. How do they do it? Why do they do it over and over again?

Show Notes

Theatrefolk Blog

Episode Transcript

Welcome to TFP – The Theatrefolk Podcast – the place to be for Drama teachers, Drama students, and theatre educators everywhere.

I’m Lindsay Price, resident playwright for Theatrefolk.

Hello! I hope you’re well. Thanks for listening!

This is Episode 147.

You can find any links for this episode in the show notes at

Happy New Year! Welcome to 2016!

Are you ready for a brand new year? Personally, I feel that 2015 sped by really quickly, way too fast. But, you know, the older I get, that would be the general consensus I have of all of the years and all of the days. It’s kind of like a freight train and so we better enjoy every day, right? That’s what we’re doing. We’re enjoying every day that comes and I can tell you – nice segue, Lindsay – I truly enjoyed recording this podcast. Ah, see how I did that, ha? Ah!

So, this episode is about directing musicals and, while we here at Theatrefolk don’t specialize in musicals, we have one, “Shout” – an a cappella musical, check it out – Shout, show notes, Shout in the show notes, Episode 147. Just because we don’t specialize in it doesn’t mean that you don’t specialize in it. And so, in this episode, we have three teachers who put on musicals on a regular basis and they talk about their experiences.

Let’s get to it!

LINDSAY: Hi Kim! How are you?

KIM: Great, Lindsay.

LINDSAY: Awesome. Okay. So, how long have you been connected to musicals?

KIM: Oh, my goodness! Since I was in fifth grade.


KIM: I’ve been in musicals, loved musicals. And then, in college, of course, I studied Theatre, love it. Worked professionally, love it. Musicals are my very favorite thing.

LINDSAY: So, what led you to become a teacher?

KIM: I always loved sharing what I do and, my whole family, they’re in teaching. And so, of course, I started by being a swimmer and I taught people how to swim and I thought, “Oh, I’m good at this!” and people listen to me so I started choreographing at a young age, working with big musicals, and then I just went into education. Now, I love it.

LINDSAY: So, what was your first musical? Do you remember that?

KIM: That I was in?


KIM: Yes, I was in Fiddler on the Roof.

LINDSAY: And who were you?

KIM: I was just one of the many children put in this show because children sell tickets and I was put with random adults and we were a family.

LINDSAY: What do you remember? Because I remember, we had lots and lots of records and I remember singing away to musicals. It was the songs that connected me first.

KIM: Well, what connected me was the director.


KIM: I’m from a one-stoplight town and in came this amazing woman.


KIM: And so, I followed her. But, yes, I was always singing and in front of people in my small little town. What connected me was that I got to sing and dance and act and move scenery and I thought that was really cool in one two-hour period.

LINDSAY: Yes! Yes, absolutely! I think there’s something really magical about the way that things are expressed in a musical.

KIM: Yes, and as a small, younger person, my director, of course, she used children all the time because they sell tickets and I got to move scenery and do a cartwheel or, you know, do something crazy like that and it just hooked me to wanting to do everything in a musical.

LINDSAY: What are you doing this year?

KIM: I’m doing Once on This Island.

LINDSAY: Yes, why’d you choose it?

KIM: I chose it because I love the story. t’s kind of Romeo and Juliet meets The Little Mermaid.

LINDSAY: I love that!

KIM: It deals with either racial lines or class lines and I think that’s really important. We still deal with that today and it’s important to show that love wins at all and, if we all could just love each other, be kinder to one another, the world would be a better place. That’s what Once on This Island, the Ti Moune character loves someone so much, and she ends up paying the ultimate sacrifice, but it broke a lot of tension between everybody because of what she did.

LINDSAY: So, what’s your first step when you’re directing a musical? Where do you go first in the process?

KIM: The very first thing I do is I look at my students and I do that two or three years out, thinking…

LINDSAY: Really?

KIM: Yeah. “What will they look like in three years when maybe they’re a senior and I can pick this show?” Because you need to have some of your key players before you choose said musical. I always say, “You can’t do Peter Pan unless you know you have Peter.”


KIM: And I hope I have two or three come to auditions but that’s what I do. I look and I decide and then I go out and I find who publishes it and I ask to peruse the musical because maybe my idea of what it is isn’t the same once I get the score and the script. So, then I do that. If I like it, then I ask for the rights and I go ahead and start that process because, sometimes…

LINDSAY: It takes a while.

KIM: It takes a long while. Other times, if you’re in a busy city or something, it might come through on a tour and they will tell you, “You can’t do it.”

LINDSAY: That’s a really good point because we don’t do musicals but we get calls all the time where it’s like, “All right, my rehearsals start tomorrow,” and they’re just buying the rights and it’s like, “You can’t do that with musicals.”

KIM: Oh, no. You have to put so many things in place. You need to go ahead and find your musical director who wants to know your vision as the director, how many course people are you putting in this number or which lead is going to sing this if you’re going to change it up, and then you need to find your choreographer – unless you can choreograph yourself.

And then, you need to start thinking, “Okay, what scale am I going to do? Is it going to be large? How many people do I need to pull in? The prop people and the set people.” In high school, you know, most of us are one-stop shops so we reach out to our parents and say, “Hey, can you help build? Can you help find these costumes?” And so, that is a process. If you don’t have that in place before you meet all of your eager young high school students, then you’re kind of drowning. You need to go ahead and get that prepared so all of those facets are working while you’re then teaching the students the material.

LINDSAY: I think that’s fascinating. We talk about ensemble a lot in plays but I think it’s even more so in a musical, isn’t it? That you need people.

KIM: Oh, gosh! Need so many people! And I’m a big believer because of this director I spoke of that, the more, the merrier because, sometimes, some of us are afraid. If we’re in an ensemble, it’s not so bad because there’s a lot of people around us and I love to put a lot of kids onstage because it’s just fun to look at. I call it a three-ring circus.


KIM: As long as the audience is focused and knows where to look, you’ve got something happening here, here, and here, and it just is so interesting.

LINDSAY: Oh, I like that, and I like that image that it’s focused because it’s a great image but it’s also purposeful.

KIM: Yes, absolutely. And so, the ensemble understands that they are highlighting said lead or whatever is happening at that moment. But it’s still they create the whole picture because that’s what we’re looking to do. If somebody takes a still picture, that everybody’s engaged and it’s interesting to look at. And so, that’s what I try really hard to do with the millions that I put onstage.

LINDSAY: So, with this group, with these millions that you’re putting onstage, what are some of the challenges that you face?

KIM: Oh, gosh, challenges. Well, young people these days are very busy. They take a lot of AP classes. They go on to early college. They’re also maybe working because they need to. They have homework. Those kinds of things are very challenging when it comes to rehearsals. It’s also very challenging in the rehearsal have no basis of theatre at all and others have been in theatre since elementary school, maybe private lessons, whatever it is. So, then you have to mesh those two different groups and keep the accelerated ones interested and keep the brand new babies excited about what they’re learning and not that they’re overwhelmed.

LINDSAY: Do you ever have to deal with diva behavior with musicals?

KIM: Yes. Yes, I have had some of those and they’re so difficult because they are talented.

LINDSAY: That’s the problem, isn’t it?

KIM: Yes! You can be as talented – oh, all day long – but, if your attitude and your work ethics stinks, it’s so difficult to work with.


KIM: Yeah, I have had that. I’ve had to talk to the students. I’ve had to take away something from them which then becomes a parental issue because they are a diva and they’re so talented. “Why would you do that?” But, I think, in the world, if you’re just not kind and have a good work ethic, nobody wants to work with you.

LINDSAY: Well, that’s the lesson to learn, isn’t it?

KIM: Yes.

LINDSAY: Talent does not trump kindness.

KIM: No, it does not.

LINDSAY: Or ensemble.

KIM: Correct.

LINDSAY: I think that’s a really important lesson for the musical, particularly at the high school, because that is that notion of talent can really get inside you and go, “Well, I want this show to be wonderful and she sings wonderfully, but…”

KIM: Yes. Yes, and just hearing yesterday from a great speaker at this fake conference said that we’re all an ensemble and there are no stars here so we all need to know that we’re working for the greater good which is to make the audience have an experience and to feel something. And so, whether you’re third tree from the left or you’re that lead singer, you need to all work together because, if you don’t have all the facets, even if you don’t have the props, if you don’t have the costumes, it’s not a whole piece to look at. That’s what I try to teach that diva child.

LINDSAY: Yeah. So, how do you promote vocal safety in young performers?

KIM: Oh, goodness. Well, I generally try to find a wonderful musical director that will help them learn that and I say it all the time about the screaming and the singing improperly and things like that. So, just kind of baby steps as we go through.

LINDSAY: Do you think that, at the high school level, musicals can be about process or product?

KIM: Oh, it’s all about process. I think my professional self would love to go, “Look at my product! Yes, look at this product! Everybody, come see it!” and I’ve actually dealt with this. It’s the process. It is that I don’t have that most talented child sometimes but, boy, they’re eager and they want to work. And so, they might get the front and somebody might sit out there and go, “Well, the product is a little less than it should because I see that,” but what they don’t understand is the process of this said child or many have gone from scared to death to onstage to having a character to creating something wonderful. That, to me, it’s all about the process.

Of course, do we all want an amazing product? Yes. When I go up against my colleagues, I want to go, “Look at my product!” but I will not suffer the process because, if they don’t learn how to be good, kind people; if they don’t learn how to come to rehearsal prepared; if they don’t learn how to be in rehearsal; then I haven’t taught them anything.

LINDSAY: Awesome. Thank you so much, Kim!

KIM: Oh, you’re welcome!

LINDSAY: That’s fantastic!

Okay. So, I am talking to Tricia Oliver.

Hello Tricia!

TRICIA: Hi! Thanks!

LINDSAY: Hi. So, you are a week away from opening Lion King Jr.

TRICIA: Yes, I’m very excited.

LINDSAY: Yes, and what grades are involved in this?

TRICIA: We have this year third through seventh that is part of this elementary production. I teach or my productions are usually involved with third through twelfth grade, but this production, I allowed the seventh graders to be part of the elementary production. Normally, it would switch off or cut off at sixth grade. But, because of the leadership that I had come from my sixth grade class last year, I went ahead and told them that they would be allowed to audition. I only had two rising fifth-graders – now sixth-graders – audition and be part of the show last year. And so, I felt like I needed that leadership to carry the show.

LINDSAY: So, how important is leadership when you’re directing a musical?

TRICIA: In any production, whether it be a musical or a straight play, having those students who have been through the process before, who show the other students how the process works merely by modeling their behavior or what their expectations are of how they’re supposed to act onstage, how they’re supposed to act behind the stage, the musicals probably that extra level because there’s the music – they have to learn the music. And so, it’s not just, “Hey, you have to be off-book by this day,” but, “Oh, my gosh, we have to learn the music as well.” Does that make it easier because they’re learning choreography that goes along with words and they know where to stand because of the music? I don’t know, but I love having that leadership – having somebody else to help hold the hand of the people who are brand new or coming through. The sixth-graders that I have this year, I only had two sixth-graders in our show last year and I am so excited that, because these two sixth-graders were so active and so energetic and so excited about being part of the production, this year, I have ten or twelve sixth-graders so you think about, out of all these sixth-graders, only two of them were in the production before. So, I have so many new kids to teach, “Hey, this is how this goes,” and then you throw in the different aspects of it being a musical. It’s a lot of work so I really count of those kids to model how to react to what I expect of them.

LINDSAY: I think that’s awesome. I think that’s lovely.

How is it different to direct a musical for that age group as opposed to high school? How do you shift your focus?

TRICIA: Every moment is a teaching moment. Trying to wrap their head around putting the choreography with the music I think is the most challenging thing right now. in fact, the rehearsal last night, that was one of the things I was like, “Okay, we’ve got three more rehearsals to get this right until show,” and they will. It’s just repetition for them. And so, recognizing that, yes, by this rehearsal, they will have cut or it’s going to take… you know, it took us two hours last week to run a one-hour show. But then, we talked about it and that was completely normal, don’t worry about it, it’s going to be okay. And then, the next rehearsal, they cut half an hour off and then they got excited and more focused and then they cut ten minutes off of that. And so, they don’t know that, “Oh, my gosh, this is horrible.” They think it’s horrible and I’m like, “No, no, it’s part of the process.” It’s educating them on the process whereas high school students, I think they’ve already been part of the process. They’ve already gone through it. They know the expectations. They know how it rolls. Even the new kids don’t have as hard of a time transitioning in. If you want to bring in the peer factor and, “Oh, my gosh, I’ve got to get up in front of my peers,” and, “How is this going to go?”

I’m really excited about the particular group I have this year and they’re all excited about it. they’re not nervous about their peers watching them. They’re excited to just be performing.

LINDSAY: How do you promote vocal health in middle school for these guys?

TRICIA: We have a music teacher. Our music teacher is actually helping with this production so that is helping me out a lot. She is making sure that they are warmed up before we even get started and we’re talking about staying hydrated and staying healthy. Of course, it’s really difficult in the elementary building, especially since there’s so many sicknesses going around and stuff like that. So, aside from bodily health, making sure that they understand that it’s an instrument, that they have to take care of it, and, you know, when you’ve got cheerleaders who are using their voice differently who are trying to be part of this production, they just have to be educated and it just takes every opportunity – whether it be in music class or whether it be at rehearsal – to talk to them about using every instrument – their mind and working their scenes through their head and then using their body and making sure their body’s warmed up and making sure that vocally they’re doing what they need to do. It’s interesting because I have to do self-checks sometimes to make sure that I’m getting that across.

Last week, I could not get them to sing out and I couldn’t figure out why. And so, I thought through the process myself and I thought, “Well, they’re getting their vocal warm-up from the music director but they’re not getting their vocal warm-up from the drama teacher,” so we stopped and we did a projection exercise yesterday and their vocal quality increased incredibly. In fact, another teacher who works after school came into the area where we were working and she was like, “They already sound so much better. What did you do different?”

Sometimes, it takes that constant re-evaluation – looking at it. What can I do? How can I help them? It’s not just all them. How can I help them become better on the stage?

LINDSAY: Ah, that’s fantastic! I love that it’s not just the vocal warm-up from the music but the vocal warm-up from the acting. I think that’s an excellent point.

As we wrap up here, what would be your one piece of advice for directing a middle school musical for those out there listening?

TRICIA: Don’t be afraid. Don’t run away from it. I find that musicals energize a program in a way that straight plays don’t. Try to just educate the kids on why they love to sing. They love to get out there. Sometimes, if they don’t feel comfortable getting up and singing individually or they don’t feel comfortable getting up and speaking individually, having that chorus that naturally comes with every musical gives them an opportunity to be introduced to the stage. So, probably a third of my cast is brand new and having that opportunity to just be part of the ensemble shows me what I can expect from them in the future and shows them how much commitment do I want to make in the future to have a larger part.

LINDSAY: Fantastic! All right, thank you so much!

TRICIA: Thank you! Glad to be a part of it.

LINDSAY: Hello, Roxane! How are you?

ROXANE: I am doing awesome.

LINDSAY: I am here with Roxane Caravan. We’re going to talk about musicals.

How long have you been directing musicals at your school?

ROXANE: Sixteen years.

LINDSAY: Sixteen years?


LINDSAY: That’s a number that’s kind of like, “Aah!”


LINDSAY: And were you someone who has always loved musicals?

ROXANE: Yes. I mean, musical theatre is something that’s been with me forever. Well, I mean, I started dancing and performing when I was, like, three. I don’t know, just family and just infused with that. So, yeah, I’ve always been very musical theatre friendly from a really young age.

LINDSAY: We had a recording of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown on record. That’s how old. That’s what I remember too from being little – really connecting to the songs in musicals to the point where, when I was in university, I had a roommate say to another roommate, like, “Does she listen to anything normal?”

ROXANE: Right, exactly. I know. So true.

LINDSAY: It is true. So, what is it about musicals that’s important at the high school level? Like, why musicals?

ROXANE: I think musical theatre kind of connects everything. I think it’s a great connection. I mean, putting a musical together, you’re pretty much incorporating all of the different aspects of theatre and I think it really challenges students on all of those levels.

LINDSAY: Well, because there’s so much that has to go on. How do you deal with students who maybe aren’t the triple threats?

ROXANE: Not a problem. I mean, my whole thing is I believe that, you know, you take what strengths you have but, also, I tell kids, “Don’t just work on what is your strength. Pick your weakest place and work on that.” I think that that is a combination of all of those things. I think it really helps kids because of the, well, from a performance standpoint, you know, and the understanding of musical theatre is singing, dancing, and acting so you have to incorporate all those things. But, on a high school level, you’ll have a few kids that can kind of conceptually put all that together but you’re going to have kids that, you know, might have two out of the three or, you know, they’re not going to have three out of the three and they may never have three out of the three, but make them feel that they’re able to work on something that is a weak area and to strengthen themselves so that they have a sense of accomplishment.

LINDSAY: I know when I see musicals, it always feels at the high school level that it’s very product – like, it’s very product-driven – and I think that there kind of has to be more of that in a musical than in a play because there are so many elements. But I really like that idea of, “Okay, look, here are three things that we have to do. Just pick one and work on it and that’s your accomplishment.”

ROXANE: Going back some years, we did 40 Seconds Straight which is huge, huge show. Obviously, you know, you have the element of tap dancing and everybody in that show needs to be a tapper. Well, not everybody is a tapper but, you know, just being able to take that as a real specialized element and to teach that to kids, it was really neat because, obviously, it was one of those shows I kind of never forget because of the time that goes into putting together a show like that. But, you know, I had boys that never had a pair of tap shoes on in their lives but there were kids that would sit and they would just go for an hour or two hours and they would just practice, practice, practice because they wanted that accomplishment and it ended up being a really awesome and productive show. Honestly, I mean, yeah, I had some really talented kids that could cover all of that but, boy, there was a lot of kids in that cast who would have never done but, when we looked at the end product of it, they felt mighty accomplished after they had done that. And it was awesome and it really did and it came together.

So, give them a challenge. I’m a challenge girl.

LINDSAY: Yes! Well, let’s talk about it. I know Roxane. Roxane and I know each other because I threw an a cappella musical at her and that’s what I remember from that experience. I remember just sort of throwing it at you and, because of your demeanor just assuming that everything was going to be okay and I remember you saying at some point, “Yeah, that was a challenge and some more challenging than others,” but I also remember, when I talked to the kids, they said I said, “Well, this was a very challenging thing. Did you ever think you couldn’t do it?” They said, “No, Caravan believed in us from the beginning. So, if she believes in us, then I’m going to believe in me.” What an amazing thing.

ROXANE: Well, I mean, I have this one philosophy and I always tell this to kids whether we’re going to competition, when we’re doing a show, and I say to kids, “Well, first of all, I will never ever put you in a situation that you do not feel that you are comfortable with, that you are rehearsed enough that you will ever have stress and nervousness.” I say there’s two kinds of stress – well, let me back up – two kinds of nervousness as a performer. I said, “There is nervous kind of like, ‘Oh, crap! I don’t feel prepared. I don’t feel like I spent enough time with this. Did I really delve into it? Memorize it? Did we practice this enough? Where are we at?’” and then there’s that really awesome nervous that you get before the curtain opens and you’re nervous but you’re excited nervous but you’re not worrying about the “I’m not ready.”

LINDSAY: What you’ve done to this point.

ROXANE: Right, and that’s the one thing I always say to kids. I’m like, “I don’t believe in nervous number one because I promise you I will give you the tools to be prepared… as long as you take it.”

LINDSAY: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

ROXANE: I mean, you can’t force kids to do anything but that you do that and I say that about shows and even when we go to competition because, I mean, you know, we do a lot of the thespian competition stuff and I feel like, you know, “I don’t want you to get up in front of a group of people and ever feel that you aren’t comfortable and prepared in what you do,” and I think that that’s huge.


ROXANE: It’s huge.

LINDSAY: What show are you doing this year? What musical are you doing this year?

ROXANE: We just finished doing Shrek Jr. – like, the junior version of Shrek which we had done because we do a summer camp program. It was super fun. But we’re doing The Addams Family: the Musical.



LINDSAY: So, what’s your first step? When you are preparing as a director, specifically to direct a musical, what’s your first step?



ROXANE: Spend way too much time with the script.

LINDSAY: Well, that’s good.

ROXANE: Yeah. I mean, tons of time with the script. I mean, you know, gathering a production team of people together. I mean, really, prior to doing anything, I mean, I think on the high school level particularly, you have to realistically look at what you have. I never ever would pick a show just because, “Oh, that’s a great show, that’s a popular show.” Or “Oh, I really want to direct that.” It’s like I base a show on the talent that I know that I have and that I’m able to generally be able to cast the show within reason and I think that that’s really important as a director – I mean, especially in a high school. It’s not like you’re opening up auditions.

LINDSAY: It’s who you’ve got.

ROXANE: It’s who you’ve already got. Sure, yeah, it’s great. I mean, we open our auditions to our whole school too but I look at who’s in my program and say, “Okay. Well, yeah, I could cast that show.” That makes me right off the bat I’m comfortable. I have a sense of comfortable as a director knowing I’m able to do that and I have to also, I think when you’re picking a musical for your school and community, I also think about who’s going to come see the show, you know. What are you going to get in the seats? Because there are shows that I know I can cast and there’s show that I know that I love or that would be great. Like, I’ll put it out there. Like this year, I was between The Addams Family: The Musical and Kiss Me Kate. Now, there’s two opposites, right?

LINDSAY: Very much.

ROXANE: That’s like two opposites of the spectrum. I looked at Kiss Me Kate and I was like, “Okay, yeah, I can cast Kiss Me Kate,” but is that going to work for my schooling community, particularly for the school? And I said, “Probably not,” and we’re really trying to serve our school and community, especially because we are a public school. I do, that’s a big consideration for me.

LINDSAY: What’s your balance between looking at the text and looking at the music when you’re in rehearsal?

ROXANE: I mean, I hire a musical director. I mean, we generally do music first. For me particularly, if I’m looking at it, I would say probably pretty even with a musical. I mean, I think it depends on the musical because, yeah, like last year, we did something that was more musical play-based so, really, the text was really more important – well, I don’t want to say “more important” – okay, if you were doing a zero to a hundred, probably the text aspect of it was very important because the plot was driven much heavier and then of course you had your musical element to it. But I think it really depends from a show to show basis because some things are heavier one way or another but I kind of base it on musical play versus musical comedy or that sort of thing.

LINDSAY: How long do you rehearse? What’s your usual rehearsal?

ROXANE: I don’t like super-duper long rehearsals. I mean, to me, I like to put it out there and get it done so we generally… no more than six weeks for a full musical. Me, personally, I’ve done them in four and five weeks. We just go in there and we just go at it.

LINDSAY: Well, it’s the kind of thing where the time that you give them is the time that they take, right?

ROXANE: Yeah, and I like that. I mean, well, I’m lucky because I’m able to use my space and say, “I’ll just block my space off and I’m, able to use it.” I mean, it works for me, it doesn’t always work. I mean, it depends on people and what setting. Some people, if they have to rehearse longer. I just feel like, if you hit it with the intensity, especially with musical theatre, and also there’s a point where, you know, you’re working with kids. I don’t want to say they get bored but, you know, it’s there and there’s a point where, okay, they need an audience now for acknowledgement. It’s that acknowledgement of audience and I think that, with students, I think that happens a little bit faster.

LINDSAY: What are the three important things to encourage students when they are in a musical? What are three things that students need to do or be aware of?

ROXANE: Well, I’m a big do-your-homework kind of a girl when it comes to anything with theatre and I really stress the fact that, you know, you need to make sure that you understand the text. I mean, whether it’s the text or it’s what’s in the text even in the music and doing your homework. I think that, especially, you know, when you’re working with all different types of musical theatre, it’s like, you know, go through and really, you know, if you don’t understand a phrase, you don’t understand/ You know, do your historical background checks. If you don’t know a word, look it up. Don’t know a phrase, look it up. If it’s some sort of colloquial expression, what does it mean? That can make or break the way you deliver something and we don’t always have time. I mean, it’s not like in professional theatre – “Let’s sit down and do table work for any length of time.” I mean, you know, you don’t have that luxury. I don’t have that luxury. For me, that’s number one.

You know, again, that’s with text and that’s music or acting and then, of course, you know, once you’ve been given something, you own it, and I’m really big on that. You know, once you’ve worked with your musical director, you know your music, you own it, now rehearse it. Once your choreographer comes in and you’ve set a piece, you own it and I give ownership. I’m into the “okay, that’s your part, you own it. It’s blocked, you own it.” To me, that’s really important. Of course, ultimately, with anything, you’ve worked together as a team and an ensemble, you know, we’re all here for the same reasons. Remember that because you’re talking about kids, drama, you know. Try to keep as much of that to a minimum because, you know, when you’re working with kids and they’re working together and you’re working long hours and all of that sort of thing, you know, ultimately, yeah…

LINDSAY: Things happen.

ROXANE: Things happen and you have to deal with that stuff. So, for me, those are probably my biggies.

LINDSAY: How do you get kids to take care of their voice?

ROXANE: My phrase is – and my kids all know it – “your body is a temple.” I say it all the time. They know it. I tell them to stay out of really loud places. Like, don’t eat lunch in the cafeteria. You’re a decibel up. Don’t stay in front of each other and scream at the top of your lungs. I’m a healthy food kind of girl. I don’t allow kids anything but water and herbal tea in my environment when we’re working on a show. A kid comes up with a soda, if they’re a new kid, kids will say, “You better get rid of that because she’ll dump it out!” Even healthy foods and snacks and stuff like that. I’m just really big on making sure that I say, “You know, this is your money-maker, it’s your instrument. You know, you play in the band and you take care of your violin. Well, take care of your body. Take care of your whole body and your instrument because that’s it.”

LINDSAY: I think I brought chocolate in when I came in to see the kids and I think that was the no-no.

ROXANE: Well, we do because we do these long… like, we’ll do these marathon weekend rehearsal things like Friday nights, all day Saturday, whatever, because we do, like I said, a shorter kind of rehearsal thing. We think it’s kind of cool but we get parents to rotate and do meals. The kids will pay and it’s inexpensive. It ends up being cheaper than, “Okay, we’re taking a dinner break,” and everybody goes buy some McDonald’s or whatever, some junk. We do a lot of that. We kind of incorporate into it that we actually try when we are doing long rehearsals to actually make sure that the kids are eating healthy.

LINDSAY: Eat healthy.

ROXANE: Yeah, eat healthy.

LINDSAY: No chocolate.


LINDSAY: Last thing, someone who loves musicals, is afraid of doing it with their students, what’s one piece of advice? Other than “do it.”

ROXANE: Yeah, I know, just do it. I don’t know. Start small. I think starting small, nowadays, there’s a lot of, I mean, especially with the junior productions which there’s a lot of really good pieces of theatre that are part of that that you can work with or anything that’s on a smaller scale. Or do your own thing. Like, we do a lot of things like adaptation type stuff and have the kids play around. If you’re not ready to hit it on your own with a big show, then do something creative on your own.

LINDSAY: Sounds good! Thank you, Roxane.

ROXANE: Thank you!

LINDSAY: Awesome!

Thank you, Roxane and Kim and Tricia!

It was a pleasure talking to all three of you.

Before we go, let’s do some THEATREFOLK NEWS.

Okay. So, we focused on the musical genre in this podcast. But, wait, we don’t stop there.

This month on the Theatrefolk blog, we are focusing on the voice – breathing exercises, tongue twisters, projection, writing for a character-specific voice, and promoting vocal safety in young performers.

You can check out all these great posts and exercises on our website. Where? and you can also find the links in the show notes –

Finally, where, oh, where can you find this podcast – this awesome, amazing, wonderful podcast? Well, let me tell you. We post new episodes every second Tuesday at and on our Facebook page and Twitter. You can find us on and you can find us on the Stitcher app. You can also subscribe to TFP on iTunes. All you have to do is search for the word: “Theatrefolk.”

And that’s where we’re going to end. Take care, my friends. Take care.
Music credit: ”Ave” by Alex (feat. Morusque) is licensed under a Creative Commons license.

About the author

Lindsay Price