1.Selecting the Musical - Be certain you can fill most roles with your current student population. It's okay to have one (or possibly two) roles that are question marks, but you should concretely be able to think of a few students for each role. Also, license the musical as early as possible. I'm constantly amazed at how many times I hear of the licensing companies declining a request or even pulling requests after they've first given the rights.
2.Auditions - We have found that having students sing songs from the musical during the audition process lessens their anxiety. This way the students only have a few songs to choose from rather than the intimidation of figuring out what song to sing on their own. We give each student an audition packet with the songs for each character (and ensemble). Additionally, we send out an email to the parents/students with audition tips -- ways to have a more successful audition.
3.Ticketing - After years of trying different ways of ticketing in-house (and it being very time-consuming for both me and the parent volunteers), we finally decided to go with an outside vendor. We now use Vendini. Although there is an initial set-up fee (and a per ticket charge), for us, this has been a huge positive step forward. We have no regrets and I am so happy we made this decision.
4.Parent Night - Early on in the process (after we finish our music rehearsals and as we are beginning our staging rehearsals), we invite the parents to come hear a couple selections from the show. The students are excited, the parents are excited, and then we ask the parents for help! I am so thankful to have lots of parent support; I never want for help in any area. This night is a great way to give the parents a small taste of what their children have been rehearsing and get everyone excited about the upcoming show.
5.Rehearsal Schedule - Make a definite rehearsal schedule and stick to it -- no matter what. Parents will bend over backwards for you if you communicate clearly with them from the beginning. It's also important not to keep the students past the stated end of rehearsal time.
BONUS TIP: I start an e-mail once a week - a draft. Then I add to it each day when I think of things I need to communicate to parents. At the end of the week, I have everything written down and just send out one email, instead of a flurry of multiple emails.
I hope you find these tips useful. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or other tips that make your school musical a success. You can also find this article on the Delaware ACDA website, where you can share your own musical tips.