Putting on a Show: Overview


This page introduces you to a typical H.A.T.S. Show. It provides an overview to Who is involved? and What are the stages and timescales in a production? The menu above offers more details on each type of role.

Who is involved

Putting on a Show - especially a Panto - requires an enormous commitment of time and effort. Over 120 people devote their time to the Show - most for four months, some longer. Each member of the team is vital to the success of the Show. They split, roughly, into three categories:

Performers: those who appear on the stage, in the orchestra or are directly involved with their work. Includes actors, chorus, dancers and musicians, the overall Director, the Musical Director and the Choreographer and, alas, the Prompt. There are about fifty performers in a full panto, less in a play. For more


Production Team: who create the environment for the performance - the stage designers, set builders, set painters, the lighting and sound team, wardrobe/costumes, make-up, props and stage crew and the Stage Manager. There are about fifty members of the production team in a full panto - the same number as on stage! For more


Front of House: who support the production and the audience. There are people who do publicity, staff the box office, produce programmes, sell sweets and ice-creams, decorate the foyer, act as Theatre Manager and as Stewards, keep the Theatre clean, ensure it is in good repair and (as happened in 2004) do major renovations. Probably about 30-40 people are involved in these roles. For more

What are the stages and timescales?

If you are interested in joining in, you'll need know how much time is required. We will look at a Panto; plays are similar but are often a bit simpler.

Planning / Selection: Long before members are involved, the Committee will agree a Director and their choice of panto. The Director will spend considerable time planning the Show, considering casting, set, music, lighting and maybe will plot movement and dances.

Casting: three or four months before the Show, members meet to read the script. This familiarises members with the Show and allows the Director to hear potential cast members. The Director then selects the cast, always a trade-off between the best person for a role, ensuring a balanced cast and ensuring that each person, especially newcomers, gets a fair chance at a role.

Rehearsals: these normally start immediately after casting, for both principals (major speaking/singing roles) and chorus. Typically twice a week initially (2 - 3hrs in the evening), sometimes increasing to three times a week nearer the Show. Chorus members may have fewer rehearsals initially. If you are a performer, you will be expected to learn your 'part' at home, well before the show starts. In the weeks preceding the Show there may be a couple of Sunday rehearsals. So about 30-35 rehearsals for panto, maybe 20-25 for plays.

Preparing for the Production: the off-stage preparation is no less demanding. Set construction and painting will involve one or two evenings a week before and during the rehearsal period; more nearer the production date. During this time a team of wardrobe ladies (normally) work on the daunting task of producing many sets of outstanding costumes for fifty people. Work on lighting/sound may start perhaps six-eight weeks before production, as does publicity, programme production etc.

Performance: Our productions normally run over a two-week period - Pantos involve 14 performances, plays typically 6. You might expect to arrive at the Theatre around 6.30pm and leave around 10.30pm, tired but happy! You will expect to put on a costume (sometimes many) and wear makeup. Simple makeup is done by each actor (with help for beginners); complex makeup by a specialist.

Is it worth it?

You bet! In HATS we tend to enjoy full 'houses' for our pantos and comedies, which is very rewarding. Hearing comments around town on the production adds tremendously to that pleasure. Also the camaraderie developed within the cast and crew is really quite special. It certainly must be worth it, because as each Show draws to a close, the main talk back-stage is "are you doing the next one?"

One of our 'new ' members, who has now been with H.A.T.S. for about twelve years, but who previously worked in amateur theatre in six different countries says: "take it from me - H.A.T.S. is The Best:

The best theatre
The best equipped
The best fun
The best people
The best camaraderie

Come and join us - we need you.

Now See

Now see further details about Performers, Production Team or Front of House