Before the curtain: Directors get creative to save on costs

Directors sent out emails asking for old books or pieces of furniture.

Parents worked to convert a show choir costume into a musical dance costume. Students scavenged Goodwill to find costume pieces.

The work was part of cost-saving efforts by high school theater departments as they prepare for fall productions.

Drama departments receive no school funds to produce shows.

“The budget is whatever you have in your account,” Whiteland director Raenell Smith said. “We literally operate on our own budget.”

Most local high school productions cost about $3,000. That money must be used to costume every actor, build sets, buy stage makeup and props, secure production rights and print programs and tickets.

And so, putting on a show on a budget requires creativity.

Copyright permission to utter one line of a play can cost a school hundreds of dollars. The music from favorite musicals such as “Annie” or “The Wizard of Oz” can cost more than $3,000.

Props are made, found or bought, as costumes, set pieces and furniture. Makeup alone can cost hundreds of dollars.

For Center Grove’s fall play, “Charley’s Aunt,” students will supply their own costumes. They look for pieces at home and secondhand stores or borrow them from family and friends, technical director Shaun McIlquham said.

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