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Adaptation for Child Performers

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The School Play in Real Life. We all have to start somewhere - the plays under this trope are adaptations intended to be performed by children derived from a more well-known work.

Disney has put out a large number of these in recent years based on their Broadway hits. Their popularity is understandable as kids often already have whole scenes memorized anyway from repeat watching. In fact Disney releases Junior adaptations of their works for middle school and high school-aged students, and "Kid" adaptations as well, sometimes with the same work.

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These adaptations are often heavily modified to make them suitable for performance by young and very young children. Many undergo some Bowdlerization, and the parts kids don't like often get cut out as well. Beyond subject matter concerns these plays see simplification of lines and parts to make them more manageable for the child actors, with the possible exception of the protagonist which will usually be taken on by the best student of the highest grade level of the production. Vocal Ranges will also likely be simplified to avoid straining any young voices. Time is also a factor - Scenes and sometimes whole acts are sometimes cut to bring the length down, with an hour or half hour being the two most frequent target lengths. This is both for the attention span of the performers but also sometimes to comply with local laws concerning child performance.

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Most of these works have large ensemble casts to ensure all students have at least a few speaking lines in the performance. It isn't unusual for productions to have two or more casts that alternate during the run to ensure all the students get a shot on stage, and the students who aren't acting on a given night will be assigned work within the crew.

These plays are most often rehearsed in a classroom setting and then performed on the stages of local community theaters, often being set between the main productions of the host theater's season. And while the actors and crews are kids, the stagecraft is largely left to the adults who are often relatives of the kids. So, despite the performer's ages, these plays often have sets and special effects comparable to other community theater works. Mary Poppins Jr. and Peter Pan Jr. includes rental of a stage crane necessary to allow characters to "fly" onstage.

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Many of these plays are musicals, and the music is usually prerecorded, but performances with live musicians are not unknown. Rarely productions where the orchestra is also composed of children occur, particularly in the case of art schools that have both musical and theater programs.


Examples:

  • Aladdin (Jr & Kids)
  • Alice in Wonderland Jr.
  • Annie (Jr & Kids)
  • The Aristocats Kids
  • Avenue Q: School Edition
  • Beauty and the Beast Jr.
  • Bugsy Malone Jr.
  • Captain Louise Jr.
  • Children of Eden Jr.
  • Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Jr.
  • Dear Edwina Jr.
  • Doctor Dolittle Jr.
  • Drowsy Chaperone Jr.
  • Elephant & Piggie's "We Are In A Play" Jr.
  • Elf: The Musical Jr.
  • Fame: The Musical Jr.
  • Fiddler on the Roof Jr.
  • Finding Nemo Jr.
  • Finian's Rainbow Jr.
  • The Musical Adventures of Flat Stanley Jr.
  • Frozen (Jr & Kids)
  • Godspell Jr.
  • Guys and Dolls Jr.
  • Hairspray Jr.: While most of the politically charged subject matter is kept surprisingly intact, there are a few things removed - such as all references to police brutality, the freedom march that ends in a riot, and Velma trying to seduce Wilbur.
  • High School Musical Jr.
  • High School Musical 2 Jr.
  • Honk Jr.
  • Into the Woods Jr.: This particular show is cut in half when performed in schools, ending the show at Act I with everyone living Happily Ever After.
  • Legally Blonde Jr.
  • The Lion King' Experience (Jr & Kids)
  • The Little Mermaid Jr.
  • Madagascar - A Musical Adventure Jr.
  • Magic Tree House: A Ghost Tale for Mr. Dickens Jr.
  • Magic Tree House: Dinosaurs before Dark Kids
  • Magic Tree House: Pirates Past Noon Kids
  • Magic Tree House: The Knight at Dawn Kids
  • Mary Poppins Jr.
  • Matilda Jr.
  • Moana Jr.
  • The Music Man (Jr & Kids)
  • My Son, Pinocchio Jr.
  • Newsies Jr.
  • Oliver Jr.
  • Once On This Island Jr.
  • Disney's 101 Dalmations Kids
  • Peter Pan Jr.
  • The Phantom Tollbooth Jr.
  • The Pirates of Penance Jr.
  • RENT: School Edition
  • Rock of Ages: High School Edition and Middle School Edition
  • School House Rock Live Jr.
  • Seussical (Jr & Kids)
  • Shrek: The Musical Jr.
  • Singing in the Rain Jr.
  • Sister Act Jr.
  • Thoroughly Modern Millie Jr.
  • Willy Wonka (Jr & Kids)
  • Winnie the Pooh Kids
  • Xanadu Jr.
  • A Year with Fog and Toad Kids
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