So you’re considering a dinner-theater musical this Christmas – or at least something dramatic with music instead of a traditional cantata – but don’t know where to start? On the front end, doing this kind of musical can seem pretty intimidating, but like anything big undertaking, it’s best if broken up in smaller, manageable bites in order to reach the desired goal.
First, you have to know what you’ve got to work with in the way of talent. Make a list of your soloists (male and female) and a good estimate of how many ensemble cast members (non-soloing participants) you can expect to have involved in the production. Knowing what level and amount of talent you have to work with is the first step in choosing a show for your group.
I recently connected on Linked In with a writer I remembered meeting years ago at a CITA (Christians in Theater Arts) conference. I think he was one of the winners of that year’s playwriting competition. Anyway, I hadn’t seen him in years, but recognized his name instantly and we connected. I then went to his website to see what he’d been up to creatively and came across an article that he wrote which was first published by LillenasDrama.com in 2008. The writer’s name is George Halitzka, and I believe that what he has to say is still extremely relevant and should be read by anyone who uses, or is considering using drama in the church. Some of us only do it at Christmas or Easter, but regardless, George’s insightful words should guide your selection of material or your own writing as you put these programs and musical productions together.
Click HERE to read George’s article and then let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
I hope you had a great Memorial Day!
In the Christian music publishing world, you’ll find both cantatas and Broadway-style musicals, though the latter are much fewer in number. Some of the music available on our website (www.churchmusicals.com) is music that was originally published through the major Christian music print companies and some of it is music from other smaller companies or individual copyright owners. The musicals from the larger publishers are for sale and musicals from the smaller publishers are available through licensing only. So, what’s the difference? Why is there a difference?
The publisher (large or small), as the copyright owner, has, by law, the exclusive right to determine and control how his music will be distributed, licensed and even performed. You may be used to dealing with the major church music publishers (Brentwood Benson, Word, Lillenas, Praise Gathering, Lifeway, Shawnee Press, Integrity Music, etc. ) whose music is sold either directly to churches or through distributors (Kempke, Christian Supply, Pine Lake, etc. ) or through Christian bookstores such as Lifeway, Mardels, and so on. Most typically, these publishers create cantatas (commonly called “musicals”) which are sold to be performed in a church setting. These cantatas (musicals) are usually based on a collection of songs threaded together with narration or in some cases, short dialog.
I never originally intended to use this blog to be political. My goal has always been to instruct and enlighten church leaders and lay Christians about the powerful use of the arts to reach unchurched audiences through compelling and spiritually engaging stories. Jesus did that, so it follows (at least in my mind) that we should follow His example.
I just learned that Lifeway Christian Stores has pulled “The Blind Side” from its shelves because a Florida pastor complained about some use of profanity and racial slurs in the film. This action is the spiritual equivalent of Jesus refusing to go home with Zaccheus because he was a tax collector. (Do you suppose Zaccheus used profanity or racial slurs against Samaritans? If so, then Jesus wasn’t afraid to hear unpleasant language if, in doing so, he could touch Zaccheus’ life.)