Christmas is the favourite time for productions and rehearsals will start to kick in after half term.

If you have been put in charge of this year’s production and either it’s your first time or you don’t have a music degree or the time to write a script, then I suggest that you buy into a prepared production that has all the script, songs, cd (or even better digital songs with words) all done, tried and tested for you.

This cuts out a mountain of work which you will be grateful for when you still have to clothe, rehearse and keep awake small children for a performance when they just want to break up for Christmas and get their hands on presents.

There are a fair few productions out there these days, but if you want something guaranteed to be fab, then go for Out of the Ark.

They have a range of productions for different year groups and are always entertaining.

There are probably some already in school, so ask around and definitely check what the children have done over the last two years so that you don’t repeat something that they have done recently.

Order as much in the way of material (cd’s, words etc) as your budget will allow and then copy cd’s and words many times so that you are not constantly worried about losing the original.

Next, get people on board to help with props and clothes.

Parents, TA’s, grandparents, retired members of staff etc. etc. love to get involved in this type of thing.

Offer jobs and accept help.

You cannot do this alone!

Again, there are quite likely to be a small corner of the school that is dedicated to angel costumes and animal outfits.

Ask TA’s who have been at the school for a while and find out what you have and what you need.

When you come to casting parts, be ruthless!!

Don’t assume anything.

It is a chance for children to shine who may not be academic so give everyone a chance to audition.

Give yourself a get out clause (say you need a few days to decide maybe or even better, do proper auditions at lunchtime instead of just deciding in the staffroom) so that if you make a mistake in a casting, you can change your mind.

There is nothing worse than assuming lovely bright Emily will be perfect for a part if you can’t hear her and she gets shy every time she gets on stage. Another tip is to perhaps adapt the script to give less words to more children.

This will help them to remember their parts and be more confident when they perform.

Also, some parts may well have solo parts in them to sing.

You can get away with these being sung en masse, but it adds a little bit of magic to a production if there is a small child singing beautifully.

There won’t be a dry eye in the house.  

As rehearsals get going, remember that this is not The West End  it’s really easy to get carried away and demand perfection, but at the end of the day, the parents will love it whatever happens AND it is much more likely to be remembered fondly if there are a few natural mishaps.

Staffrooms are full of stories from years before of hilarious things that happen in productions.

These are what makes it worthwhile in the end.

So… audition well (it will be the best investment), spread the workload and remember that you are dealing with fidgety children who will not remember the script, get bored of listening to the same songs repeatedly and who will need regular breaks so that they do not drive you to distraction asking to go to the toilet or be continuously facing the wrong way.

Keep rehearsals to the minimum and only have the entire production when absolutely necessary.

The parents will love seeing their children on stage anyway and if you can create some WOW! moments all the better.

Best of luck!