February 7, 2024

I recently shared this belief of mine with a colleague who was about to embark on producing their first jukebox musical.

“Success in theatre is about creating an unforgettable experience for your audience.” 

As a seasoned theatre professional with over 30 years of experience, I've seen the rise of jukebox musicals firsthand. Now, I'm here to share my insights on how to choose and stage the perfect jukebox musical that will leave your audience in awe.

We’ll explore how to pick the right musical, engage your audience, and create a show that captivates hearts and minds.

This is the recipe I use:

  1. Understand Your Audience: It's essential to understand your audience to create a long-lasting relationship. Knowing their age range can help you tailor your show choices, marketing strategies and even influence the style of the show. Understanding their interests can inspire you to choose shows that will resonate with them and keep them engaged with your content. Knowing their musical preferences is one of the most important factors that can help you create a built-in fanbase. And those fans will become your biggest supporters, leading to a word-of-mouth marketing campaign that will be hard to ignore. Getting to know your audience’s preferences is crucial to your success.

  1. Learn from Past Successes: When it comes to creating an impactful production, there's nothing quite like learning from the past. By taking the time to analyze successful productions and identify what resonated with your audience in the past, you'll reveal patterns and themes that captivated them. With this information on hand, you can identify the nuances and subtle differences that made a successful production shine. You can use your findings as a roadmap for creating new and exciting content expertly crafting future productions, by incorporating those very elements. 

    Understanding how to replicate success is a skill that separates the experts from the amateurs. Don't leave it to chance; take control of your productions and bring your audience on a journey they won't forget. They'll be impressed with your masterful approach and will reward you with their undivided attention.

  1. Research Popular Jukebox Musicals: Look into well-known jukebox musicals with music that matches your audience's taste. Find an era or genre that will resonate with their background and preferences. With an endless amount of options to explore, from Motown classics to rock and roll hits, the possibilities are truly endless. By researching and selecting the right musical, you can ensure a masterful and engaging experience for your audience.

  1. Appeal To Many Generations: Music has the power to evoke powerful emotions and memories, making it a perfect medium for building nostalgia and creating lasting impressions. Choosing shows with timeless music is a surefire way to capture the hearts and minds of viewers across a wide range of age groups. This can be a masterful way to expand your reach and cultivate a larger and more diverse audience. From classic Broadway hits to iconic pop songs, there is a wealth of nostalgic music that holds a special place in people's hearts, regardless of their age.

  1. Consider Licensing and Budget: The devil is most definitely in the details. It's vital that you take the time to examine all of the licensing and budget requirements associated with the show you're considering. Not only will this help to ensure that everything fits within your logistical constraints, but it'll also give you a much more accurate picture of what the production will cost you in the end. By taking a meticulous approach and leaving no stone unturned, you can rest assured that you're creating a show that's not only artistically impressive, but also financially viable. After all, a jukebox musical isn't just about the music - it's about striking that perfect balance between creativity and sound business decisions. 

  1. Assess Technical Feasibility: Evaluate the technical and logistical requirements of the show and ensure it's feasible for your production team and venue. This involves a comprehensive evaluation of all aspects and requirements of the production – from the costumes and set design to the sound and lighting systems. A masterful producer leaves no stone unturned in ensuring the feasibility of the production team and venue. Expert technical planning and execution can make all the difference in bringing a musical to life, and you want to ensure your team has everything they need to succeed. Trust your expertise and pay attention to detail.

  1. Find the Right Performers: Look for talented individuals in your community who excel at performing this style of music. Authenticity is key, so make sure they have the ability to knock the songs out of the park and captivate hearts.

    Choose performers with strong vocal abilities, commanding stage presence, dance aptitudes, and a talent for engaging the crowd.

“Remember, the success of a jukebox musical hinges not only on the popularity of the songs but also on the performers' ability to breathe life into the material and emotionally connect with the audience.”

  1. Assemble a Dream Team of Designers and Creatives: Finding both a director and choreographer who understands the era or theme of the music, and can craft a compelling and enlightening vision for the show, is of the utmost importance. Their expertise and mastery of the style will steer the production towards its triumphant realization, ensuring a cohesive and impactful presentation that leaves audiences breathless. 

    Choose designers that will use visual elements that align with the era or theme of the music, immersing the audience in a rich and sensory experience by opting for bold and visually stunning sets and costumes that enhance the production's aesthetic is essential. 

  1. Prioritize Sound Quality: Give sound quality the attention it deserves to ensure the music is crisp, clear, and balanced. The emotional connection we have to music relies heavily on how we experience it, and muddled, unbalanced sound can detract from even the most powerful performance. A well-designed sound system not only complements the musical act but it helps to enhance the audience's overall experience. In fact, with high-quality sound systems, the audience members are able to fully appreciate the performers' voices and all the nuances of the music. So, give sound quality the attention it deserves, and watch how your audience fall in love with your show.

  1. Ensure that everyone is doing the same show: Theatre is a beautifully complex art form that requires countless moving parts to come together seamlessly. From the performances onstage to everyone behind-the-scenes, every single person involved plays a crucial role in creating magic for the audience. But how can we achieve this magic if we're not all on the same page? When it comes to theatre, it's essential that everyone working on a show is doing the same show - in all aspects. From understanding the characters and their motivations to knowing the overall message of the piece, each person involved must be aware of the bigger picture.

By following these tips, you'll be on your way to staging a jukebox musical that will leave a lasting impression on your audience. From concept to curtain call, create an unforgettable experience that celebrates the transformative power of music and touches people's lives.

Coming up:

From Vinyl to Broadway: Tracing the Rise of the Jukebox Musical Phenomenon

About the Author

James A. Rocco (CEO, Thirty Saints Productions) stands at the forefront of live theater and television, boasting an impressive repertoire of over 200 productions as an award-winning director and producer. His extraordinary collaborations have left an indelible mark on stages across the globe, garnering acclaim from both audiences and critics. James's fervor for storytelling and his relentless pursuit of perfection have solidified his reputation as a masterful and in-demand creative force in the performing arts.

At the helm of Thirty Saints Productions as the company's forward-thinking CEO, James has cultivated a vibrant hub for the licensing of the most sought-after jukebox musicals and revues. His strategic focus on crafting productions that resonate deeply with audiences ensures their widespread appeal and accessibility, allowing theatrical groups of any caliber to experience success.