14 Steps to staging the perfect nativity play
Here is a checklist that we’ve compiled from many years' experience of organising nativity shows. If there’s anything you think we’ve missed, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your suggestions.
1) SCRIPTS & CDs
Go through the script and listen to every song, learning them yourself
Try to allocate speaking or singing roles for every child that wants a part
Read through the script CAREFULLY and make any amendments that are needed for your cast (Remember that most of our products come with editable scripts... please use them)
Print off enough copies of the script for every performer, plus have a few spare and know where your original is saved
Make one copy of your backing music CD: Yes, we are one of the only music publishing companies that allows its customers to make ONE copy of any CD purchased from us. If you require further copies, additional back-up CDs are available from us for just £6 each.
Order rehearsal CDs if necessary: We sell low priced rehearsal CDs (£3 each). If you have a small cast, you could buy each child a CD each to take home to listen to over and over. Or if you have lots of classes in school, why not buy each class a CD to play during their tidy up time? PLEASE REMEMBER that making multiple copies of any CD purchased from us is illegal. We DO allow the purchasing establishment to make ONE copy only of any CD purchased from us for back up purposes only, but if you require additional copies, then please buy them from us.
Auditions: evaluate each child’s reading and acting skills as well as their singing and possibly dancing skills
Cast all main roles, walk on roles AND UNDERSTUDIES
Cast stagehands make sure each one has clearly defined roles
Cast lighting technicians and sound technicians if appropriate
Arrange who will be responsible for scenery, costumes and make up
3) SCHEDULE DATES
Arrange the dates / times / venues of every rehearsal and stick to your plan. Let EVERYONE involved know the arrangements.
Arrange the dates / times / venues of dress rehearsal and main performances. Let EVERYONE know.
4) PLAN EACH REHEARSAL
AIM: What do you want to achieve from this rehearsal. Which songs / sections of the script are you going to tackle
INTRO: Clearly relate to the children the aim of this rehearsal session. Use plenty of praise and encouragement
MAIN SECTION: Have set objectives and stick to them. Possibly involve other adults to take various groups away to rehearse various sections with them, so you’re not doing it all yourself
CONCLUSION: Always congratulate the children. List what they need to practice before the next rehearsal
5) COSTUMES & PROPS
List costumes & props required for every character
List the people who will help to make the costumes / props. Give them clearly defined roles and deadlines so there is no misunderstanding
Organise a costume fitting session well in advance; DON’T leave it till the day of the dress rehearsal!
Remember to have lots of safety pins ready for on the night as there is always at least one costume that manages to get torn somehow!
Seek parental permission for every child who will wear makeup (As some children can have allergic reactions to some face paints)
Source suitable non-toxic face paint and order it in plenty of time
Assign roles to the individuals who will be applying the face paint well in advance so they can practice if necessary
If you are using the readymade PowerPoint scenery that comes with all our products, then assign the job of ‘PowerPoint technician’ to a suitably qualified individual. Make sure they have all the equipment they need (laptop/projector/screen). Ensure the equipment and wires won’t interfere with the performers
If you are making your own scenery, then assign clearly defined roles and deadlines
If you are somehow swapping scenery through the production, then have a trial run before the dress rehearsal
8) LIGHTING / SOUND
Ensure you have all mikes / speakers / CD players / lights working well in advance of the dress rehearsal
Prepare scripts for lighting and sound technicians highlighting changes they need to make at certain times in the play
Give lighting and sound technicians a chance to practice with the cast in advance of the dress rehearsal
Always have spare CD players / cables / mikes / batteries / bulbs available just in case
9) STAGE HANDS
Assign roles for moving props and scenery off and on stage, give each stage hand a script highlighting their involvement
Assign roles for helping children with quick costume changes if necessary
Give stagehands a chance to practice with the cast before the dress rehearsal
Assign a responsible adult to supervise the children who are backstage during the performance
Make sure you’ve purchased your performance licence. For further details please click here.
If you’re recording the show to make and sell DVDs then you need to purchase a recording rights licence. For further details please click here.
11) TICKETS & PROGRAMMES
Print and distribute / sell tickets. On each ticket make sure to include:
a) name of show
c) venue (even if the venue seems pretty obvious)
d) whether seats are numbered or available on a first come first served basis
e) door opening times.
Print programmes to hand out on the door. Include:
a) title of show / author / name of cast
b) cast list
c) title and order of songs
d) credits and thank you’s
e) adverts if appropriate
12) ORGANISE YOUR AUDIENCE
Before the show make the following announcements:
a) Welcome and thank you for coming
b) General fire safety announcements
c) Please switch off all mobile phones (not on silent mode as they can interfere with sound equipment)
d) Possibly organise a supervised crèche facility in an adjoining room for young children / babies. (Encourage parents to try to leave their children in there so that they don’t disturb the show. You could possibly also set up a live video feed so that parents who have to temporarily visit the crèche don’t miss anything.)
13) ORGANISE YOUR THANK YOU’S
After the final show, carefully make a list of all the people who deserve a special thank you and have some appropriate gifts / flowers ready to give them in order to publicly say thank you.
14) AFTER SHOW PARTY
They do it in professional performances, why not do it after your children’s performance!