“Hey, Dad. What is rain?”
Starting Over Again is FFP’s fresh and funny perspective on an ancient and mind-boggling story — Noah and the Ark.
Here are some moments from the recent upper-grade drama class production for our homeschool co-op program. The kids had a great time and did a fantastic job. You can see that the costumes are not exactly “historically correct”! That’s all part of the fun.
A number of the songs in this musical are drum-driven, so we brought in our own “Vic the Stick” Cleaver with his electronic drum set to provide the upbeat rhythms we needed, plus some great sound effects. Added to our regular keyboard and guitar, we were cookin’! Live music is always the best way to go if you can do it! And most groups either have, or can find, willing musicians.
Once we get the recording done for accompaniment and rehearsal tracks, we’ll get Starting Over Again uploaded to our Catalog!
A co-op of some 50 families draws a substantial audience, but there wasn’t any nervousness visible in this performance by our lower-grades drama class (elementary grades). The kids did a wonderful job, and they only get to rehearse once a week, for about 50 minutes, for only 10 weeks, with two quick dress rehearsals. Anyone who has ever put together a reasonably substantial show knows that’s insane. It is. But we do it anyway. And it works. The bar stays high, in spite of our limitations. And the kids reach for it!
A radio play is something of a “different animal.” It is a skill in itself. It requires the actor to hold a script and read from a script, always into a microphone, while acting for two audiences — the imaginary one, and the live one in front of them. And The Clump is a radio play within a play. It begins as a regular play, with no scripts, as the audience gets to know The Radio Kids as everyday kids who are local radio stars in 1940 America.
Our modern-day, cell-phone-using, television-watching, internet-using, elementary-school-level kids had to learn some things about American culture in 1940. It was fun! And they enlightened the audience with a little cultural literacy in an entertaining way. Nan may have her dad’s Popular Mechanics magazine with a story about the 1939 New York World’s Fair and the amazing new “telly-vision,” but, as Swell Sammy Sakowitz makes clear, “It’ll never replace radio!”
And, of course, with a radio play, you have to have sound effects (SFX)! Our SFX actor did an amazing job of playing 5 parts, as a Radio Kid who also played “Mom,” and as Bob the Bologna Man, and Bud the Baseball Slugger, while doing physical SFX with wood and pans and cans and other SFX with her voice into the microphone. She literally wore several hats (and coats).
This was the “world debut” of this brand-new play and it features two radio jingles (yes, we added one). It is perfect for elementary-school plays (public or private schools), but it could also easily be done by middle school, junior high, or senior high students. It would really be funny with adults dressing and acting as kids!
See our catalog for The Radio Kids in The Mystery of the Clump in the Night! And we’ll get the new jingle added quickly.
Did we find out what “the clump” is?! I think we have to wait for the next show!
That’s a line from a hilarious song in FFP’s original romantic musical comedy, A Pirates’ Tale. Audition sign-ups are open and we can’t wait to line up a great cast!
Auditions are at the end of May and the entire acting and singing workshop and all the public performances will be in June! We’re packing it in to save everyone time and gas money during rehearsals and to get this special project completed early in the summer before a lot of vacations.
This is a rollicking tale, for sure, with lots of action, singing, a little dancing, a few swords, an octopus, a sea monster, women pirates (and, of course, guys, too) a fancy Frenchman, the “man in black,” kidnapped children, kidnapped schoolteachers, a little light “romance,” and a surprise ending!
You have to get in on all this fun! Sing? Dance? Act? Any or all of those? We want you! A beginner? That’s fine. We’ll teach you! An experienced veteran? We need you!
We have a fabulous new venue and we plan to advertise this all the way to Dallas! So click on the Auditions page and look at the Register page and get all the info and join us!
If you have any conflicts or questions, email us. We’ll work with you the best we can. We want everyone involved who wants to jump in and have a good time, and learn something to boot! And get some valuable experience.
This is a musical production that’s fun for the whole family! Tell your friends! Get them involved!
A-r-r-r-g, Matey! You don’t want to miss out on this!
For those of you who have been looking over our Catalog and Terms, etc., we have made the Video Rights rules a lot friendlier and removed the requirement to pay to obtain those rights. Our Terms explain that all videos of any FFP production are for personal use only. A video of your production may be uploaded to a private or public site for 30 days but must be fully credited to FFP and also labeled as your own production.
You will also notice that the prices are even more affordable for Big Dad Jake, both the one-song and two-song versions, and the Radio Kids’ Mystery of the Clump in the Night!
This is a new process for us and we’re trying to get it right for everyone! Also, our approach is a bit innovative for this industry.
Our new FFP Tunes page is up! Take a look at it! Much more to come!
Listen up, Bugsy Bigtime! Sam Shade does it again! He solves the Case of the True Meaning of Christmas!
It’s a jazzy, action-packed, laugh-loaded musical with a message, and a track record for pleasing both casts and audiences. It’s fun for the whole family. It’s a show that can be made as professional and grand and sophisticated as you have the resources to do so — or it can be scaled down for a class of youngsters.
Armed with his signature lollipops, our tough but charming detective led a cast of 30 for our own homeschool co-op drama classes, both upper and lower grades. Our 3rd through 6th graders played the “urchins,” while all other parts were played by our 7th through 12th graders.
The nice thing about this script is, if you happen to have two classes like that, you can actually work with them separately and then put the whole show together during the last extra rehearsals. It works. We’ve done it more than once.
We did the “middle-level” version of the script (see the Catalog Page) that features all 7 songs with a simpler story for a smaller Backstage Crew. If you produce either of the 7-song versions, you can easily schedule your cast in three sections during early rehearsals.
The “basic” version features 4 songs and is ideal for a younger cast (as opposed to high school or adult) and/or a smaller cast. The “full-blown” version is 7 songs with a true play within a play, involving more characters in the Backstage Crew (the Broadway Wannabes) and more interaction between the “front stage” and backstage.
The basic version is ready to go into the Catalog. We are working to schedule another recording session to finish the songs for the other two versions. Keep checking. We should have them ready for business in January.
Of course, we did ours with live music — keyboard, piano, guitar, and drums. Future plans are to have it scored for a full jazz band!
Hopefully, it will also explain more about our own choices regarding pricing and material delivery, and underscore that we really are “family friendly,” though professional and vigilant regarding our own material.
A Quick Ballpark Price? Forget it…
It began with me searching for merely a “ballpark price” for scripts in general, musicals in particular. I had heard prices in the hundreds (four or five hundred) of dollars from people who “had heard” but really weren’t sure, but I just did not know anyone knowledgeable to ask at that time.
When I pulled up the sites of the biggest and oldest companies who represent the well-known Broadway plays and musicals, etc., I found royalty applications so detailed it blew my mind – and all that to merely get a quote.
I found a site for Christian children’s musicals. I pulled up a few and saw, at the top of the page, prices like $9.99, $11.95, etc. What??!! The whole thing is only 10 or 12 bucks? Turned out that was the price for one singer’s (or actor’s) booklet (or script).
Once I figured out to scroll down, I found a list of materials, digital and physical, with prices and boxes to indicate quantity for each one. Oh. There’s more to this, I realized. But I still did not understand all the terms or specifics.
Terminology for the Newbie and the Bewildered
Here are a few basics the newbie (like me) needs to understand about the industry in general, especially so you know a good deal when you see one!
The Royalty or the License – you are dealing with copyrighted material from a writer and/or composer. You are not purchasing the material itself. You are agreeing to license it, on the writer’s (and probably agent’s) terms. That license is for a specific time and a specific number of performances, for a specific cast size, and specific venue size, and, if applicable, a specific amount related to revenue generated. For some plays/musicals with certain agencies, you must submit an application for approval and you may actually be turned down.
Usually, you will pay an amount for the first (or only) performance. If you do more than one performance, you will probably pay a lesser (or the same) amount for each additional performance. That will apply whether or not each performance is public or private, paid or free. Period! Fundraiser? Charity? It matters not. A performance in front of any audience is a performance that requires a license and a fee. Otherwise, you are violating the copyright and, yes, breaking the law.
Some typical one-performance charges range from $35 for something very small to $120 or more. Each additional performance is usually $10 or so less. Typical high-school script prices for a reasonably large play/musical might be $90 and $80 or $75 and $65, etc. Musicals are generally more expensive – and should be! (You realize I write musicals.)
Rehearsal Materials – needless to say, guarding copyrighted material has always been a challenge. The tradition (and it still holds forth with most of the big guns) is that there is absolutely no copying of anything. Period. Scripts and scores and CDs are rented for a specific amount of time, mailed out, and returned – and on time, or you get charged a late fee, or a whopping replacement fee. Yes – they have your credit card number and won’t do business without it. We can all be sure that there are very good reasons that business has been, and still is, done that way by a major part of the industry.
One way or another, you pay for each copy you need of the Director’s Script, and each copy you need of the Actor’s Script (or Singer’s Book), including your technical people (stage, lighting, sound crew).
A typical price for one Actor’s Script seems to be $6.50 or $7.50, or more, in the case of the Singer’s Book I cited above.
Music scores for piano, guitar, or entire bands, must be paid for and may cost anywhere from $50 to $200 or so for a package, or so much for each copy needed. Sometimes you are allowed to make copies of a score.
Basically, be prepared to provide the quantity for each item you need and to pay for each one. If the size of the cast is 30, you will not be allowed to order 5 scripts. Sorry. No way.
The Dawn of the Digital
I mentioned this is a traditional, but evolving, industry. Obviously the ease and reach of acquiring and distributing digital products has had a profound effect on copyrighted material. I’m sure there are young people (and probably some older people) out there who think everything is, or should be, 99 cents, or free. Sorry. Not if we hard-working writers can help it. And not if you want writers to continue writing. And producers to keep producing and agents to keep repping, etc.
So, we have the upside and the downside of the marvelous digital world.
On the upside, it saves everyone money and time and grief if materials do not have to be printed in advance and stored, waiting to be rented, mailed, and returned. Delivery is quick and relatively painless (unless you are still computer challenged – get a techy friend!). When costs come down, prices can come down an appropriate amount. (But there is still time and talent to be considered!)
On the upside for you, the customer, it is easier to share files with actors and their pads and phones. It is easier to play CDs or MP3s during rehearsals or even a performance. No clumsy tapes to duplicate, play, and break, and wind around pencils (anyone remember that?).
On the downside for the copyright owner, it is so very easy for those files to get copied and shared where and when they shouldn’t – passed around to friends and uploaded to the world. Oops.
Materials can be copied and stored, physically and digitally, and passed down for future unpaid-for performances. Catch me if you can!
Well, it’s always been a mixed world of the honest, responsible user and the “catch me if you can” user, though today’s world, sadly, shows a growing percentage of those needing to take ethics classes in prestigious business schools and an ever-growing battle royal against copyright infringement and product piracy.
We must, and we do, bottom line, count on the good conscience of our customers. And, for the most part, it works and is worth it to provide our customers with this techy world’s convenient and more affordable benefits.
Affordable and Friendly
In our pricing and our options and our delivery, we have tried to be as affordable and user-friendly as possible, while still positioning our material in what we would call the “mainstream” of the high-quality script world and doing our best to guard our copyrights.
No overly complicated submissions and waiting. We have a basic information sheet that is easy to fill out online. We want you to know before you order exactly what you will be paying. No waiting for a quote dependant on the size of your venue and whether you have tickets and if you offer any discounts, etc. We want you to be able to do a good and fun show on a relatively small budget. We give you tips to save money on costuming and scenery.
We offer digital downloads for script and song materials.
On some of our smaller plays, we actually offer a customizable MS Word version of the Director’s Script (to be ordered instead of the PDF downloads of the regular Director’s Script and Actor’s Script). It requires only that you agree to protect the material and to submit your customized version for approval before your first rehearsal date.
A Relatively New Concept: The Copying Fee – in our perusal of the industry online, we noticed that one or more companies did not rent materials, but provided a digital download and charged a catch-all Copying Fee based roughly on the standard price of one script times the number of copies most probably needed and also some copying of CDs, MP3, lead sheets, etc.
Ah! That sounded like a good and reasonable idea. No printing or copying beforehand and mailing, etc. You make your own copies (only the amount you actually need, mind you). No mailing, no waiting, no returning.
So we have chosen to go the Copying Fee route, and we have gone easier than most on the amount of the fee, as we have on many of our fees.
FFP is a new kid on the block in the world of licensing plays and musicals. However, many of our scripts and songs have been around for quite some time and have been kid and audience tested, quite successfully, a number of times. If we may say, we’ve got some really good stuff to offer you, all with our own unique flavor and flair.
We want to make it easier and more affordable for a lot more groups, big or small, to have fun with a new selection of entertaining scripts and songs that have proven to be very doable and singable and enjoyable for every young person who has come our way – and for adults!
So, know that we are doing the best we can to offer you the best deal we can. Please enjoy our material, but please guard it as dutifully as you would your own!
That is the purpose of the class. Everyone’s in. No auditions. Our musical comedy for that semester must include each person in the class. Thus, the necessity to customize each script. If the actor is new to me, I have to guess the best I can, but it’s worked out amazingly well.
Most of the kids (ages 9 to 18) want to be in the class. Some have been regulars for the entire 11 years. Some come and go, depending on other activities or class needs in their lives. Many bound into the class at age 9 after waiting impatiently for years to qualify. They’ve watched the productions, hounded their moms, finally had “the” birthday, and they are ready! (It does make a writer/director feel good!)
Sometimes a mom will “persuade” a son or daughter to sign up for class (or just put them in it) because it will “do them some good,” “bring them out a little,” challenge them, push them out of their shy comfort zone, etc. Usually I go very gently on such a child and cast them where they can ease into the stage experience with just enough lines and not too much pressure. I get a variety of outcomes. The kid may be there one semester and never return. The kid may decide they enjoy it enough to continue and I bring them along slowly and steadily. And occasionally they discover they really love it! And mom tells me that drama is now all they talk about. And I’m talking about guys, not just girls.
I’ve got a couple of guys like that right now. I took a chance on the younger one because I needed to — I only had two fellas in the younger class (which is unusual — one time I had only one girl). This kid was new and drama was not his dream. But I put him in a starring role — and he blossomed! He decided he really liked it and he took direction well and he improved with every rehearsal, finally doing a great job in the performance.
The older guy was new the previous semester and did a decent job in a supporting role. I could tell he was trying and improving as class progressed. He liked it enough to return, to his mom’s great surprise and delight. I crafted a funny role just for him in a new comedy — it turned out to be my favorite character. He grabbed hold of it and became a star! And got rave reviews.
The unlikely actor — look for them, take a chance on them, and encourage them. It’s a rewarding experience!
Costumes are fun! They help your actors “get into” their character and convey that role to their audience. Imaginative costuming is a powerful way to create the atmosphere you want for your script, and helps “carry away” your audience to another time and place.
Depending on our budget and the size of our cast, we try to accomplish whatever we can with digging through our closets, borrowing from friends, shopping at thrift stores, and designing and making our own simple costumes. It’s amazing what looks you can create on your own with a little imagination.
However, there are always those roles that demand special costumes — then we head for the experts, and Rose Costumes has been first on our list for some 10 years. From gangsters, to pirates, to cowboys and prairie girls, to socialites, policemen, news boys and Shakespeare, whatever time period or adventure we conjure up, Rose is always ready to help us dress it up!
As you can see from our own Mr. Bugsy Bigtime, a good costume shop is a great place to have a good time! It inspires your young actors and the cast always looks forward to visiting Rose in Denton, Texas. The staff is always very friendly and helpful, and we greatly appreciate the pizzazz Rose has added to our productions over the years.
We’re sharing all that we have learned the hard way along a fun and challenging journey in the way of tips and tricks for those who are not experts at direction, staging, choreography, casting, scenery, props, costuming, and sound.
We are not trained professionals, but we have a lot of hard-earned experience with small and large groups, producing ambitious projects in a severely limited time period. We never cease to be amazed at how young actors can rise to the occasion! We have learned how to do a lot with a little! If you have more time and resources than we have had, then you can do even more!
We also share what we’ve learned about choosing the right play, customizing the script, co-directing, and doing your own musical accompaniment.
So,… if you’ve got a group that’s small or large, elementary or college, homeschool, public or private school, church youth group or community theater, neighborhood club, social group, or scout troop…, well, to quote one of our own characters, “Let’s have some real fun!”
Let’s put on a show!
When I first started writing musicals, the idea was to bring a reasonably sophisticated, “mini-Broadway” quality to songs that were singable and plays that were do-able for teens and kids in small to medium sized youth groups. I started with several scripts I nicknamed “Bible on Broadway.”
When we became homeschoolers and discovered homeschool co-op groups and I began teaching “drama classes” (actual “do a production” class) for 3rd through 6th graders and 7th through 12th graders (give or take a grade or two), I was pushed to continue coming up with new material.
Often, I would take existing scripts, redo them, scale them up for high schoolers or down for elementary grades, expand them, contract them, and always, totally customize them for the specific cast I was given to work with that semester. Not only did we not have the luxury of auditions, we had very little time to rehearse. But we resisted lowering the bar and the kids were amazing in rising to the occasion.
SO,…that’s why one of our missions is to help you fit scripts and songs — as much as possible — to your own cast or class, audience, and venue. Our material is copyrighted, so we have to stay within our specific permission parameters, but we want to help you put on a good show with the cast at hand.
I also realized that some of our scripts were capable of being scaled way up for a “real pro” cast, for adult community theater, or college theater. As we get them packaged, you’ll find several scaled-up or scaled-back versions of certain scripts to help you fit your own situation.