Journey Theater produces shows in conjunction with each class session (Fall, Winter, and Spring). Currently-enrolled Journey students, between the ages of 8 and 18, are eligible and encouraged to audition and/or apply to be on Crew (ages 10 to 18). Be sure to read through the Auditions page for general details of auditions and see the Show Callboards (scroll down to the bottom of the site) for specific dates and additional information.
Each student cast in a show must bring an adult (usually a parent/guardian, but can be any adult) to serve on a Parent Committee. Parent Committees range from Costumes to Concessions, and Sets to Security. You can find a list of all Parent Committees and a short description of their duties on our Callboards under the Show Index tab.
In the summer, Journey Theater produces a community show, with auditions open to anyone (usually ages 8 and up). There is no enrollment requirement to audition for these shows. See the Journey Summer Theater page for more information. Each cast member brings someone who can serve on a Production Committee, with the same tasks as our youth-show Parent Committees.
Timing of Announcing Shows and Show Selection Considerations
Each spring, parents and students reach out to ask when our next season of shows will be announced, in order to be able to plan for the school year. A few years ago we were able to plan and share our upcoming season in April or May, because we could secure show venues during those months. Currently, venues are waiting until July or later to get their own event dates on the calendar, prior to opening bookings to outside groups like Journey. And while we wish we didn’t have to wait, we are so grateful to each venue that opens their doors to us for performances.In addition to finding suitable venues, we thought it would be helpful for you to know what goes into selecting the shows we plan to produce. Here are a few of the considerations Journey leaders weigh when selecting shows for a season.
We want to tell stories of hope and redemption, stories that allow us to authentically explore the human condition and find Jesus in every story. Often this requires characters that don’t act the way we want them to. We see these as opportunities for discussion throughout the rehearsal process with the cast and crew, as our artists ask questions like, “What are the Christ-like qualities in the “heroes”, in the “villains?” “ What do these characters struggle with that you and I do as well?” “How does Jesus ask us to love our enemies?”
We do our best to choose shows that we consider “family-friendly”, knowing that every family will have different standards and priorities. We support families opting out when they need to for reasons of conscience or personal triggers and do our best to make information available (to participants and audiences alike) so informed decisions can be made prior to auditioning, applying for crew, or purchasing tickets.
We pay for rights and we don’t make our own shows out of copyrighted material without permission. Also, we don’t make sweeping script alterations to fit our needs.
Sometimes we want to produce a particular show, but the rights are not yet released or temporarily restricted. This can happen when a show is brand new, still running on Broadway, touring, or has already been licensed to too many amateur houses in our area. We have to apply for rights to each show and wait for the licensing company’s response and permission.
Because one of Journey’s core values is community, we look for shows that will foster collaboration and community throughout the rehearsal process and performance run.
Cast Size / Ensemble Creation
In order to support a larger community and provide opportunities for more students, we often select plays either written for large casts or plays that have the ability for us to add or expand an ensemble. Some scripts work better than others for this, but we try to find a balance between adding roles and ensuring a meaningful amount of “stage time”. Our artists also work within a script to create “featured moments” for students that are ready for them, whether it’s a small dance moment, solo line or comic bit.
When considering a show, we have to weigh the strengths and weaknesses of our current community against the potential for growing and expanding the community. Ideally a nice balance can be struck. For example, programming a show that needs 12 teenage boys is a risk if there are only currently a handful involved. Or choosing a show like West Side Story, which requires an ethnically diverse cast, can be a risk if the current community is nearly entirely of one ethnic background. Sometimes “if you build it, they will come,” and sometimes one can find themselves in a tough spot.
We believe in producing good quality theater as an act of worship for our Creator and as a gift to our audiences. We do our best to select shows with well-written scripts and music.
New (to us) Shows
While the pool of shows that fit Journey’s needs adequately is relatively small, we do value adding new shows to the mix when possible, even as we repeat certain titles that reliably fulfill many program needs. This blend contributes to the overall balanced quality of the program.
We want our plays to grow our students, so the material (music, dancing, characterization, etc) needs to be challenging but achievable.
Striking the balance between challenging and achievable requires an assessment of a show’s particular needs and Journey’s available resources. While this includes casting, it also takes into consideration unique design challenges for costumes or scenery, special effects, and signature props. We must consider volunteer time as well as needed artistic specialties such as accent coaching, fight choreography, rare dance styles, etc.
“Junior” versus “full shows”
Some royalty companies make available a few different versions of the same show, one of which is often shortened, “cleaned up” and streamlined for young performers. These are sometimes called “Junior”, “High School Edition” or “Young Performers Edition”, and have certain merits over the “full shows”, depending on the title. At a shorter run time, these editions can allow our performers to master the material better within our rehearsal time frame and feel more confident and successful in the product. Additionally, sometimes they remove content from a show that would make it otherwise not a good fit for us. At times, however, the “Junior” editions can remove valuable story and character complexities that make for a high quality show. These are a few of the factors that we consider as we read and choose a specific edition.
Other Practical Considerations
Performance licenses have a wide range when it comes to price tag. Some plays cost a mere $50 per performance, while others could cost as much as $800 per performance. The various royalty companies each use a different formula to set these prices, and they take into consideration the number of performances, number of seats, ticket price, etc. They also factor in any given production’s popularity and appeal. Some titles may be beyond our reach financially to perform. An average musical show for Journey runs about $5,000 for 6 performances.
Some shows are more well-known or loved than others, and we have to consider this from a student participation perspective as well as a marketing/ticket-sales perspective. Balancing a season with a few shows that will conceivably do well at the box office helps make taking “risks” on other titles possible.
Because Journey relies on the availability, pricing and calendar of our performance venues, we have to consider where and when any given show might take place. If, for example, we wanted to do White Christmas, but couldn’t find a performance venue in the holiday time frame, that show would be a non-starter. Perhaps we get dates for a small cast play at Fort Vancouver High School, but find that we wouldn’t be able to sell enough tickets to offset the $12,000 venue bill. Additionally, various theaters lend themselves to various shows. A big dance show like Newsies, for example, might need a Washougal High School-sized stage, while a popular title like The Lion King might benefit from Fort Vancouver’s 500+ seats.
Another consideration when planning a season is, ‘‘What other show are we programming X show with?” “Are there opportunities for older and younger students in both or at least one of the productions?” “Are the two fall shows, for example, of different enough theme and style so as to meet our quality and educational goals?” “Who else is doing X production in town?”