The Process of Booking Shows

Last updated on: Published by: John Bishop 0

What year are we in? is pretty much how my brain works when people ask me questions about our next shows. I’m always working up to 2 years in front of myself. I’m currently waiting for the email from the Theatre asking me for dates for 2021!!! So at the moment I’m dealing with paying the rights holders for April 2019, theatre paperwork for October 2019 show, booking the licence for April 2020, and booking theatre for October 2020 and 2021.

So how does it all work? I pencil us in at the theatre for the Monday – Sunday in the April school holidays and October half term approx. 2 years in front of where we currently are. I then wait until we know what show we want to do, which is usually about a year before. Then the research begins. Who owns the rights? (Musicscope…. Katy starts twitching (shall cover later in this)) What’s the casting like? (15 men…… maybe not then) How big is the orchestra? (5 piece… yay. 27 piece… haha NO) How much is the licence going to cost? (15% of ticket sales… ok. £3000… not ok).

There are 4 rights holders that I have dealt with so far:

  • Music Theatre International (formally Josef Weinbergers)
  • Theatrical Rights Worldwide
  • Musicscope
  • NODA

Once committee have all agreed on show and I have filled out all the paperwork, paid the deposit, and received the licence agreement, that show just sits to one side until approximately 6 months before show week. But don’t forget all the while this is going on for booking April 2020 for example, we are doing April 2019 and I’m doing finishing touches to October 2019 paperwork. Hence why I don’t know what year and dates are off the top of my head. Are you still with me?

Then it’s the fun and games of the theatre paperwork. It’s more than just thinking about the performances. There’s the main booking form, which books the main theatre and dressing rooms for the required times on different days. We obviously have the get in day, tech rehearsal, dress rehearsal, the performances start and finish time, and get out times. It also wants to know number people in cast. The problem is I’m filling this out to confirm the booking with a deposit before we’ve even got a production team for the show, let alone any cast numbers or finish times. Once this is in the theatre should be fine for a month or so, which gives committee time to decide on ticket prices and artwork for the box office paperwork. 

Next I agree to follow the theatre’s hire terms and conditions and the box office agreement. This leaves just 4 forms left in my booking pack which I don’t fill out until 2 months before the show. BACs form I only need to fill out if we change bank account, and Video Record Application I never fill out as we can’t video our productions as mentioned in the licence agreement. Young People’s form I fill out once we know how many under 18s there are in the show. That then just leaves the Tech form.

Usually by this point the director has had a meeting with the technicians at the theatre or at least been in communication with them. The Tech form gives the technicians a heads up of what equipment we need and stage layout so they can ensure everything is in the right venue and ready for us to arrive for the get in. 

Fingers crossed and all being well, by show week all paperwork should be in. All I then have to worry about is if we need to arrive earlier or later than what we are booked in, and arrange that with the Duty Manager at the theatre.  

Show week finally arrives and during each performance I collect a box office sales report from the theatre. Once the show is over and all the rehearsal material is collected back in, I send all the sales reports and books to the rights holders and wait for them to send me the bill for how much we owe them. I pass this on to the treasurer, who sends the payment. 

The process for that show is then all complete, and we start all over again.

by Katy Michaelides