Frequently Asked Questions
King Island Christmas looks like it’s expensive to produce. Is it?
No! King Island Christmas has all the qualities of a “mega musical” but none of the costs. The music can be sung by amateur singers and choral groups “on book”. And because it’s performed “oratorio-style” it doesn’t require expensive sets and production elements. Production Checklist
How many singers are required to present King Island Christmas?
King Island Christmas has been done with as few as 16 singers and as many as 120. There are solo roles for 3 men, 1 woman, 1 boy and 1 girl.
Even so, King Island Christmas requires a minimum of 16 singers. How is it possible to do a cost-effective production with such a large cast?
Using an amateur chorus or amateur singers from your community is the key. Because the chorus performs “on-book”, their rehearsal time is greatly reduced. The use of amateur singers does not impact the musical quality of the show whatsoever. Even the NYC commercial producers of King Island Christmas brought in amateur choristers to sing with leading Broadway soloists.
Is it possible to perform King Island Christmas without a full orchestra?
Yes. Many successful and profitable productions have been mounted with a piano only. There have also been successful productions done with only a handful of instruments. King Island Christmas can be adapted to the resources of any organization. We can provide you with orchestra parts for whatever instruments you have available in your community.
What is the running time for King Island Christmas?
If you present a fully-staged version of the show, the running time is 1 hour and 20 minutes, with no intermission. Concert presentations tend to be shorter, averaging 1 hour and 12 minutes.
We’re a professional theatre operating under a contract with Actor’s Equity. How does that impact the costs of producing King Island Christmas?
It doesn’t. Because King Island Christmas is an oratorio and not a musical it does not fall under the jurisdiction of Actor’s Equity. Professional theatres with Equity contracts can mount the show with the nonunion musical talent in their community. If you wish to employ professional soloists, King Island Christmas falls under the jurisdiction of AGMA, the union governing legit singers. AGMA allows professional soloists to perform with amateur choirs.
Is it economical to produce King Island Christmas with other organizations?
Yes! In fact, this is the most cost-effective way to produce the show. Numerous theatre companies have co-produced King Island Christmas in collaboration with their local symphony orchestras, libraries, university music departments and school or church choirs.
The more singers you have on stage, and the more organizations you involve in the production, the more profitable King Island Christmas tends to be for everyone involved. Perseverance Theatre in Alaska did the show with 120 singers, and in collaboration with three other organizations including the local university. They turned the production into a “one weekend only” holiday event–and performed it in Juneau’s largest performing venue. They reached more audience members in one weekend in that facility then they would have in a one-month sold-out run in their 140-seat black-box theatre. Because there was so much musical power on stage in the chorus, they only had to hire (and rehearse full-time) a handful of professional actors for the leading roles.
Technically, how do these kinds of co-productions work?
Generally, each producing organization is responsible for the costs associated with preparing and rehearsing their part of the show (such as the orchestra, or the choral sections or the actors). They are also responsible for promoting the show in their season brochures and with their supporters and subscribers. General overhead producing costs, such as performing space rentals, box office personnel, microphones, advertising, etc., are shared. Box office receipts–which tend to be significantly larger because of the huge audience base created by having multiple co-producers–are shared as well.
What’s an oratorio anyway? And what does “oratorio-style” mean?
Admittedly, the word “oratorio” sounds old fashioned and intimidating. But the general public is quite familiar with oratorios–even if they don’t know it. Handel’s Messiah is an oratorio. So is Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Lee Breuer’s Gospel at Colonus. Most recently, Paul Simon used the oratorio form in his Broadway musical Capeman.
An oratorio simply means that a story is told through song. Historically, oratorios have been performed by church choirs or in concert hall settings, with soloists who “step out” from the chorus to sing, or dramatize, a particular role. An oratorio is usually performed without a set or production elements. The idea behind the oratorio is to activate the audience’s imagination to fill in what isn’t shown literally on the stage. The oratorio is based in one of the world’s oldest traditions–that of storytelling.
In King Island Christmas, the convention of the oratorio is used in this way: A group of Christmas Carolers come to the theatre to sing the story of King Island Christmas. When needed, soloists will adopt a role (including inanimate objects and the forces of nature) to dramatize certain parts of the story. The carolers narrate the story to the audience as well. The final result is a thrilling evening in the theatre where the imagination of the audience is unleashed.