Theatre 101

MdN Drama

Marcos de Niza High School Theatre

Fall Play and Spring Musical

Productions 101

Everything you wanted to know about the Fall Play and Spring Musical…

But NO WAY were you asking!


 The Marcos de Niza Theatre program typically puts on two major productions per year:

  Fall Play

Collage resizedThe Fall production is a straight-play (usually no singing or dancing) either comedy or drama, where the students can showcase their acting talents. The fall play is announced at the very end of the previous school year leaving students a pretty nice window of time to research the play, read the script and prepare for their auditions.  Auditions for the Fall Play are almost always held the second week in September and the performances are the third week in November (the weekend prior to Thanksgiving). Although on a smaller scale than the spring musical, the fall play requires as much practice time and dedication as the musical.  Parent volunteers are integral to making this show happen.

Spring Musical


 After the fall play is complete, it is time to prepare for the spring musical. However, since the Production Season is announced in late May, many students utilize this time to prepare and develop their abilities for the musical auditions by taking dance classes, singing lessons, acting workshops, etc.  Auditions are generally the week after the winter break and the first week of 2nd Semester. Audition materials will be provided to all interested students prior to Winter Break. The spring musical is a much grander production, requiring a wide variety of vocal, dance, and acting talents. Every student wishing to participate is welcome to audition or sign-up for the crew selection process. There are many roles necessary to present a production such as a musical. Although the lead roles are important, voices and characters in supporting roles, such as chorus and dance ensembles, are essential. No musical can be performed by only a few. There is also a greater need for students to support the production offstage as technical crew and as musicians in the pit orchestra.  Whether casting or crewing a show, there are a set number of acting roles and crew positions needed and unfortunately not every student can be a part of every single production.


Auditions for the fall play are almost always the second week in September. Auditions for the musical are typically right after winter break vacation, however, could occur anytime in January. Production materials will be made available to all interested students prior to auditions – Perusal scripts will be available for reading in the LRTC two months prior to each show and sheet music will be provided during a Sing-Through workshop the last day of school in December.  The best advice for auditions is to be prepared!

Fall Play auditions resemble the following schedule:

WEDNESDAY – Closed, Cold Reading Auditions*

THURSDAY     – Closed, Cold Reading Auditions*

FRIDAY             – Callbacks

*Actors audition on one of these days, NOT both.  “Closed” means that the auditioner(s) will be auditioning in front of the director(s) only… without being observed by fellow auditioners.  “Cold Reading” means portions of the script will be supplied to auditioners prior to their audition, allowing them time to prepare the scene.

Musical auditions resemble the following schedule:

MONDAY         – Males learn choreography (Drama Room #222)

    – Females audition singing (Aud. Stage)

TUESDAY        – Females learn choreography (Drama Room #222)

    – Males audition singing (Aud. Stage)

WEDNESDAY – Dance Auditions for all (Aud. Stage)

THURSDAY     – Acting Auditions (Aud. Stage) *

FRIDAY           – Callbacks

* Occasionally, a Pre-Callback list will be provided for the Acting Auditions based on the Singing and Dancing auditions – meaning that certain people will be asked to audition for specific roles in the musical while everyone else can audition for any role they wish.

Preparing for an Audition

Know your material! Have your script and music memorized. Practice in front of a mirror, in front of friends and your parents. “Tips and Tricks for Auditions” are available from the director. In addition, there are often workshops scheduled at school geared to help student preparation, as well as opportunities to practice and prepare. Some students even enroll in vocal and dance lessons. Encourage your student to take advantage of every opportunity to prepare.

 Casting Selection by Committee

 Selection for cast roles is determined by a committee of directors, mostly including the show director, producer, choreographer, and musical director.

 Audition Day

 This day is probably the most stressful day of the process. Make sure you get enough rest the night before and eat well. Nerves can cause headaches and upset stomachs so make sure you take care of yourself, first and foremost.  It’s normal to be nervous, but remember the casting committee is made up of teachers you are familiar with… Relax!!!  You must sell yourself on stage! Try to overcome your nervousness and come out of your shell. You need to move about the stage, and PERFORM!  Make the committee SEE the character in you.  REMEMBER – BE RESPECTFUL AND SENSITIVE!  Remember that people considered your competitors are also your peers. Be respectful. Don’t gloat if you have a great audition. Be happy, but be humble… it goes a long way when working with others.

 Academic Requirements & Eligibility

 All students are here for an education with academic achievement as our number one priority.  As with any extra-curricular activity and sport, students must have good grades in order to participate.  Students must earn the right to participate.  If a student has an “F” in any of their classes, they will become ineligible and possibly dismissed from the sport/activity.  Please read the school policy on eligibility.  Students auditioning for a show must bring a grade print-out of their previous quarter (or semester) grades.  An “F” grade on the previous progress report is unacceptable and will make you ineligible to audition.  Remember:  You are here to learn!

Production Grade Checks will also be expected every two weeks to confirm your eligibility.  You must have a “C” or better to remain in the production (a “D” is still a passing grade, but a student will be put on probation & understudies will be prepared at this time).


Any Marcos students may sign-up for a crew position on the Tech Sign-Up Sheet, usually posted one week prior to auditions in the drama room.  Once auditions take place, the Stage Manager and Asst. Stage Manager will choose a crew from the Tech Sign-Up Sheet based on who they feel would be a good match and do the best job for them (following directions, dependability, developing good rapport, maintaining a high degree of work ethic, etc.).


Once the cast list has been posted, the process of show production begins. It, typically, begins with a mandatory orientation meeting and script read-through for cast members. In addition, there is a mandatory parent meeting that following Saturday from 8:00am to 9:00am in the MdN Auditorium, which includes all cast & crew members, designers, parents/volunteers, as well as the pit orchestra for the spring musical.  The success of the production depends on support from parents & volunteers.

 NEW:  Requirement for student participating = 20 Hours of adult/parent/family volunteering per show


Shortly after auditions and casting, rehearsals begin. ALL students will be given a schedule. Look at the schedule carefully! Leads, be prepared to rehearse almost daily and chorus and ensemble member rehearsal schedules vary initially. As the production grows closer, rehearsals will be longer and involve everyone. Whenever possible, please avoid making appointments during rehearsal times. The whole cast is working together and when members are absent it makes it difficult for everyone involved.

Stage/Technical crew members will begin rehearsals about a month into production process. They will receive the same schedule as cast members. Again, please read the schedule carefully and know when you are needed to report for rehearsal. Ask if you have questions!

Pit orchestra members will be given a separate schedule by the instrumental music director. They will initially practice separately from the cast. As the production draws near, the pit will begin to practice with the performers.


While not totally required, part of the production experience is to be involved as much as possible in the set construction and workdays scheduled each Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. from initial production meeting date until performance opening. Parents are also encouraged to sign up and help on these workdays.


 Dress rehearsal week is a very busy week. Cast members need to be prepared with their make-up, costumes, and shoes, and must have their parts completely memorized. Rehearsals this week are until DONE!  Please do not schedule work or appointments during this week if possible!

 All cast, crew and pit must be available this week. Parents should be prepared to pick up their students late. In addition, parent volunteers are needed to chaperone and supervise during this week, as well as help provide snacks and water.

 Volunteer needs are explained in further detail below.


Parents should look to the website every week for information and always feel free to ask questions. If a student does not receive materials, for some reason, please contact the director for a copy, if the website does not contain the information.


It takes a team to make a theatrical or musical production happen. The team includes directors, producer, cast members, stage/technical crew, pit orchestra and parent volunteers. Parent volunteers are an essential part of the production. Without our volunteers we would not be able to offer the excellent productions for which Marcos is known, such as costumes, sets, technical abilities, performances and productions. There are many opportunities and parents are asked to volunteer any way they can. It’s a great opportunity to provide support to the arts and work with a great team to raise the curtain on a fabulous show.


Here is an overview of some of the details and events that must be attended to before and during performance time; who typically handles these tasks and what volunteer opportunities are available.

  • SET CONSTRUCTION / SATURDAY WORKDAYS – Director, set designer, approved adult volunteers. Typically the set is constructed over four or five Saturdays in the production process. Anyone is welcome and many hands make light work. Parents who have building knowledge and are capable with tools are highly encouraged to participate.
  • SHOW SHIRTS – Director, stage manager, CDP volunteer. A show t-shirt is produced for every show. We ask students to sign a template which is incorporated into the back of the t-shirt. Students wear these shirts often, between casting and performance. It¹s a form of advertisement as well as an opportunity for development of theater community identity.
  • POSTERS– Director, CDP publicity, and volunteers.  A poster is developed for each show. Students and parents are asked to assist in putting posters up in the community, and in surrounding area businesses and work places. Posters are held so that students can sign posters for the Choir and Drama directors at the cast party.
  • SHOW PROGRAM – Director, production manager, CDP publicity, and volunteers.  A show program is developed for each show, and is more extensive for the musical. It includes a synopsis of the show, student bios, business ads, “Break-a-Leg Shout Outs”, Patron Sponsor listings, and other pertinent information. Funds raised through the show program benefit the choir and drama departments and future show productions.  The Marcos de Niza Choir Drama Parents & Friends group financially support many aspects of show production – such as specialized, costuming, props, help with set construction materials, and other show production needs. Forms that will be needed for program submission.

Student Bios/Who’s Who: The director will ask each student to fill out a bio for the program – including students in the cast, stage/technical crew and pit orchestra. Please alert your student to pay attention to deadlines and fill out this form.

Patron Sponsor Recognitions: sponsors who simply pay a small fee to become listed as a patron supporting the choir and drama program (also funding supports student fee fund).

Business Ads: Volunteers are needed to assist in collecting business ads. Forms are typically sent out to previous advertisers, but parents and family members are also encouraged to approach those they know who run local businesses. (Ads can also be used to earn money for tour fees/participation fees/etc. by selling ads and submitting the funds under your student’s name to CDP).

Sponsor Recognitions: family & friends  who donate $25 or more to the program (50% goes to your students performance/activity expenses)receive special recognition as a Patron Donor in the program.

Business Ads: Business sponsors who donate $75 and up are featured in business ads in Programs throughout the year (50% of the donation pays for student/performance expenses and 50% pays for production expenses).

  •  COSTUMES– Costume designer and costume manager, approved adult volunteers. Help is needed with coordinating costume needs, measuring students, sewing, mending, hemming, embellishing, finding, organizing, laundering, and shopping for costumes. The Drama Department maintains a closet of costume inventory which supports much of the costuming need. Many volunteer hands make the work easier. Sewing is not always a necessary skill to help with costumes. In addition, volunteers may be needed to assist with costumes backstage during dress rehearsals and performance times.
  •  MAKE-UP/HAIR– Costume designer and student workers. Stage make-up is an essential part of production. This is typically assigned to students to be available for dress rehearsals and performance dates, backstage, to help students with the right hairstyle for an era or to assist in applying make-up backstage. Information is provided regarding make-up and hairstyling needs as production progresses.
  •  PROPS – Director, production manager, prop mistress, approved adult volunteers. A list is provided and a committee of parents is usually needed to search for and possibly design and create certain props for each production. A relatively small inventory of frequently needed props is maintained through the Drama Department. The perfect item can often be found right in someone¹s garage, attic or basement. Updated lists are often sent home regarding prop needs and you might just have the right item or know someone who does.
  •  PUBLICITY – Production manager, CDP publicity/Community Outreach and volunteers.  In addition to posters and show shirts, volunteers are needed to write publicity plans with deadline dates, newspaper articles, press releases, take photos, and submit TV and radio ads and public service announcements, as well as get the announcement to all schools, up on school marquees, and to personally invite others to attend the show.
  •  FOOD – CDP and volunteers. Students are encouraged to bring a snack and/or drink to regular rehearsals. During late rehearsals dress rehearsal week and during performances, parents are asked to donate water and healthy snacks such as pretzels, crackers, cheese, sandwiches, cookies, vegetables and fruits. An email reminder is sent so parents can sign up for specific dates, in order to make sure that students have what they need to get through grueling final production weeks. A volunteer to coordinate this element is greatly needed for every production.
  •  TICKETS, CONCESSIONS AND BREAK-A-LEG CARDS – CDP volunteer coordinator and volunteers. In order to help offset the cost of production, as well as financially support the Marcos de Niza Choir Drama Parents & Friends group financially, concessions, break-a-leg cards and flowers are made available during performances. Help is needed in setting up, selling and cleaning up. Two-to-six parents per night will be needed to be in charge of the Ticket Sales (a TUHSD Fingerprinting/Volunteer application is required); Concessions table (usually cookies and bottled water) and cash box; Break-a-Leg Cards/Flowers and cash box during each performance.  Additionally, Concessions table and Break-a-Leg Cards/Flowers and sold during intermissions.
  •  BACKSTAGEASSISTANCE/SUPERVISION – Production manager, CDP volunteers. Parent volunteers are an absolute necessity to assist and supervise in the theater arts room, backstage, both during dress rehearsal week and performance times. This not only provides for student safety, but behind the scenes support when unexpected issues arise, which is critical. Please look for and sign up for backstage shifts.
  •  PERFORMANCE NIGHT(S) TRADITION – During the performance nights the cast and crew are excited and pumped up after the show ends and they typically liked to go out for a meal afterwards: Wednesday night is Dennys (unofficial), Thursday night is Zoyos or DQ, and Friday night would be the tradition of Native NewYorker.  PARENTAL NOTE – Yes, parents are allowed to go and it does make for a very long night on a school night. It is a school night and students must remember that their grades and school work are a priority.  However, after Friday night’s performance, most of the Directors, whole cast, crew, pit as well as involved volunteers often all go to Native New Yorker on Dobson & Guadalupe.  This is an on your own event and transportation is not provided. Many parents do participate and car pool together and if your student needs a ride contact one of the CDP volunteers to make arrangements.
  •  SET STRIKE – ANY and ALL volunteers. After the last performance, the cast, crew, and pit are required to help with set strike, which involves the disassembly and tearing down of the set, putting all items related to the production away, cleaning the theater arts room and cleaning the stage. EVERYONE IS NEEDED to help so that the cast can get to the cast party.
  •  CAST PARTY – Volunteers. The cast party will begin after the set strike is complete. Parent volunteers, including cast party coordinators, are needed to help plan, set up, supervise and clean up after the cast party. The party is usually held at a cast or crew members home and is not disclosed to the students until AFTER the everything ‘set strike’ related is completed.  The cast party is for the cast, crew, pit, and parent volunteers ONLY. Although we would love to celebrate with others – friends, boyfriends, girlfriends, neighbors and siblings will not be allowed to attend. This is a very late night, so parents are asked to please make arrangements for younger siblings. No younger siblings will be allowed to participate in the party, even if they help with set strike.

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