Have you ever seen a musical and wondered how a story is transformed into a magical theatre performance? Re-think your favourite story for the stage: design costumes, find props and create your own set.
First, let's think about the story.
The Wizard of Oz is a story about a girl called Dorothy whose house is blown away in a tornado. She ends up in the magical Land of Oz with her dog Toto and meets all kinds of characters along the way, including good and bad witches.
The musical Wicked was inspired by the story of the The Wizard of Oz, but rather than telling Dorothy's story, it tells the story of the witches. Another musical, The Wiz, re-tells the story of Dorothy's adventures, with African American characters, music and culture.
Could you tell your story from a different point of view or introduce unexpected characters?
What if Peter Pan could no longer fly?
What if Cinderella stayed at the ball after midnight?
Write an alternative version of your favourite story. Think about the characters in the story and what they would say.
Costumes, make-up and props transform actors into the characters that we see on the stage. Costume designers plan costumes by drawing their ideas.
By looking at the drawing for the costume of Elphaba, the witch in Wicked, alongside the costume itself, you can see how the designer Susan Hilferty's idea has been transformed into reality.
Who are the characters in your story?
Draw some costume designs for your characters. Think about how you can use clothes and make-up to help tell the audience about the character.
Props are objects that are used to help tell stories. They can be part of the stage set or can belong to the characters, such as Willy Wonka's cane, Mary Poppins' umbrella or Peter Pan's sword.
Find objects from around your home that you could use as props for your characters. Hats, shoes, umbrellas or The Mad Hatter's teapot!
You could use an animal puppet instead of an actor. There are lots of different types of puppets: hand puppets, rod puppets (on sticks), sock puppets, shadow puppets and string puppets, called marionettes.
This life-size horse, Joey, is also a puppet. It was made for a play called War Horse and is moved by people working underneath and alongside it, using the Japanese Bunraku 'exposed' style of puppetry. The puppeteers are visible to the audience, but Joey is the focus of attention.
Plan your music
A musical wouldn't be a musical without music! Some songs are written especially for musicals, while some musicals use existing music. Some songs in musicals are so popular that they become big hits and sell lots of records. Think about the type of song you imagine your characters singing.
You could make your own noise and rhythms for your production. Read our 'Let’s make some noise' blog post for ideas.
Create your own set
Where a musical is set can tell us lots about the story and its characters, so how the stage looks and the set design are very important.
What would the set of your musical look like? Would you have it in a fantastical land or a simple setting like a kitchen or a street?
Transform your bedroom into a stage – and lights, curtain, action!
Need more inspiration? Visit Re: Imagining Musicals to explore how some of the best-loved musicals have been adapted, revived, and retold.