COVID19 has brought much uncertainty in the theatre community. Vaccines are being distributed, but a solid date for Broadway reopening is still speculative at best. However, as musical writers it is important for us to realize our job never stops. Luckily, writing a successful musical doesn’t necessarily depend on the fate of Broadway. It does depend on our diligence and dedication to our craft. 

It is important to note that a key point of writing is the development process. The development process is best done by hearing the work read and getting the musical on its feet. Right now, that means we have to be creative and flexible. 

Many theaters around the country have miraculously found ways to continue performing (safely, of course!). Despite hundreds of years of disease, disaster, and other devastations, theatre and the arts have withstood the test of time. One day, live musical performances will begin again. They will most likely start in local and community theaters. 

This is a great and wonderful thing for writers. We can develop work in our hometowns while waiting for larger theaters to open back up. Here is a list of 7 ways to continue developing your musical during the shutdown.

Hold Virtual Readings.

The old “pizza reading” has now become a Zoom reading. In its most basic form, you can grab some friends and have them read through your script. Many of the Academy members have done more elaborate portrayals of their work through online readings. The key is to figure out what the purpose of the reading is for you as a writer and your musical. Depending on that, determine how you might go about doing a virtual reading. See my “Virtual Readings: Where to Start?” article. 

Join a Writer Community.

If you are not already, join a writers community. Join a Writer Group or a Mastermind Group. The members of your community will help guide and instruct you in this time of transition. Let’s be honest. None of us have lived this before, but that’s all the more reason to do this together. In addition, writing can be lonely and as we have seen in this pandemic, community is something worth fighting for. We need to fight for community and inspiration, because writing is not something to be done alone. 

Prepare Your Submission Package.

When festivals start opening up and theaters start looking for new work, we need to be ready. Refer to this article for recommendations on what you need in a submission package and how to make a great one. 

Reach out to Local Theaters.

Start networking and planning for a reading, staged reading or production with a local theatre company. Colleges and Universities are a great place to start developing your musical during the shutdown. Local theaters are still in need of work. A local theatre could be a great way for you to develop your musical. This would give you an audience and actors to instruct you and inform you on what your work needs. There are some things that a virtual reading can’t do.  So your next step to get ready for when everything opens up is to find a local venue that will allow you to produce your work. 

Create Your Song Demos.

Recordings can be done socially distanced or in the comfort of your own home. Demos will help you pitch it to local theaters, and producers. However, make sure you make tracks as well. You never know when you will need tracks for a reading or performance. This is also a good way to fine tune your music and make sure it is in tip top shape. Click here for some tips on creating demo recordings.

Create Your Show Art and Marketing Pieces.

Spend some time creating your show art, and decide on key show branding decisions. Build your website and develop your social media. Trust me—you will be grateful that you have already done this when you are producing your musical. For a consult on show art and marketing, reach out to our CEO Holly Reed who has designed show art, built websites, and developed marketing plans for a number of musical clients.

Stay Creative.

Maybe you’ve spent the last few months doing all of the above. Don’t stop. Developing your musical during the shutdown is possible! Keep the energy awake and alive. Find a way to get your work out there. Do a web series. Do a music video. Host a virtual concert. If your musical stalled, there is no reason for you as a writer to be stalled. Find a way to grow as a writer. Join a group. Take a class. Start a new project. 

There is a lot to do. I am excited to see all the great things that come out of 2020. Without pressure, no diamonds are made. I hope we can look back and say COVID-19 and 2020 may have been horrendous, but our musicals grew tremendously. 2021 we are ready for you!