The Perry Optimist Club is the latest contributor to bringing a high school musical to Perry at an annual tempo.
Optimist Club Secretary Merrilee Bales presented a $100 check Thursday to Perry High School Vocal Music Director Jenn Nelson and PHS Drama Coach Randy Peterson as part of a fundraising effort to pay make musicals yearly instead of the every-other-year productions of recent school years.
Musicals are more costly to produce than other dramas because licensing fees are higher, Nelson said, often beginning at $3,000 and going up from there for the right to perform the show.
The big musical theater licensing organizations include Music Theater International and Concord Music, which in recent years swallowed up longtime licensing agencies Samuel French, Rogers and Hammerstein and Tams-Witmark.
When PHS produces a musical, it is “the real deal,” Nelson said, and includes all the elements of the full Broadway production, including all the lines, singing parts and incidental music.
Peterson said licensing fees come on top of the other production costs, such as costumes, sets and a pit orchestra. The 2017 production of “Peter Pan” used a pit orchestra composed of volunteers players, paid college student musicians and paid adult musicians. “Seussical,” this year’s PHS musical, used recorded music.
The Perry Community School District gave its blessing to annual musicals, but it was a cash-free blessing, and the drama and music departments are free to stage whatever they like as long as they pay for it themselves. That is where the fundraising comes in.
Bales, for many years the PHS drama coach, said the Perry Optimists are excited to join the effort to bring musicals to Perry every year.
The Optimist Club joins a number of other local businesses and civic groups in supporting the fundraising efforts, including Wiese Industries, Progressive Foundry, Perry Kiwanis Club, Hastings Funeral Home, Meriwether Wilson and Co. and Haaland Financial Services.