How Do You Workshop a Musical?

The Good Night Theatre Collective is so excited to spend this summer working with an original musical: David & Lucy, created by Luke Tatge and Ruth SturmThis musical has been in progress for over a year, with numerous rounds of edits, song additions, scene and character shifts, and more changes. Now the writers want to move into another stage of musical development: the workshop process.

But what does it mean to "workshop" a musical? That’s what we wanted to explore in this blog.

The word “workshop” can refer to many different processes in the theatre world. Workshops were first established as a part of the musical development process by the musical A Chorus Line. Creator Michael Bennett wanted to write a musical about the experiences of chorus dancers. So he gathered a group of performers to discuss their experiences. These stories were later turned into the famous songs of the show.

After the enormous success of A Chorus Line, many other producers and playwrights began to use a workshop as an opportunity to develop or improve work before it advanced to the stage. The process that Good Night is coordinating is most reminiscent of a series of readings. These readings (involving some enormously talented performers) will hopefully allow the creators of David & Lucy to answer three major questions:

  • In which type of space would this show work best?

Some musicals, like Wicked or The Lion King, cry out for a grand stage with a 2,500 person audience. Others, such as The Last Five Years or The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, feel more natural in an intimate space.

  • How will the audience react?

It is, of course, impossible to fully know how an audience will react to a new work without eventually putting it through a full production. However, the workshop process gives writers a small insight into how well the actors, director and other viewers react to the piece.  

And of course, arguably the most important of all…

  • Is the musical ready for actors/singers to play?

It is incredibly important to ensure that the musical is actually ready for actors to work with. This involves aspects such as a fully developed plot, appropriate stage directions, and a well-written musical score. 

If you’re intrigued by the workshop process or by David & Lucy, stay tuned on our Facebook page: we’ll be posting pictures and updates on the workshop process throughout the month of July.

Do you have a theatrical work you want to move towards production? The Good Night Theatre Collective loves new theatre, and we are passionate about helping those that create it. Drop us a line with the form below: let’s talk more about whether or not our theatre company can assist you in making exciting art!

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