Any great theatre showcase comes paired with a great, well-designed program. And building a sleek, professional program doesn’t have to be difficult – trust us! On The Stage offers you a step-by-step guide to creating your next theatre program. 

Creating Your Program

So, you’ve picked your show, have your cast and crew, and are barreling towards opening night. You want to make a killer program … but where to begin? 

Find Quality Show Artwork

The show artwork you find sets the tone for the entire program – so make sure you’re utilizing high-quality imagery. This art should be eye-catching and relevant. Make sure you like it, as it should remain consistent in all your marketing efforts, as well as merchandise production like shirts, hats, posters, and mugs. 

Once you’ve found the images you want for your program’s front cover, back cover, and any in-set images, you can move forward with other efforts. 

Reach Out to Potential Sponsors

Your program is an excellent opportunity to network and gain an additional source of income. Consider your list of community partners and reach out to them to see who would be willing to sponsor your show or buy ad space within your program. 

Alongside community partners and business sponsors, don’t forget to reach out to the parents and friends of your cast and crew. Congratulatory ads remain popular, and the more you get, the more capital you have to improve on this and other shows. Additionally, having a solid number of advertising pages within your program makes it worth the cost of production. 

Pro tip: Try to sell advertising spots in your program as early as possible. Gathering all the assets you need from each client will likely take time. Additionally, closing the ad sales window early will make it easier for you to estimate the total program page count with less guesswork. 

Organize Your Cast and Crew Bios 

From a patron standpoint, your cast and crew bios are typically the most entertaining part of the program  – so make sure you put care, time, and attention into them.

Have each cast/crew member write out their own bios to add a touch of personalization and to raise general morale. If you’re low on space, you may have to limit the word count or only create bios for your leads (that’s the benefit of having a digital program, too!). Make sure you dictate who each actor is playing, as well as what roles your crew members are taking on.

This is yet another element that needs to be started early. Why? Well … wrangling many self-written bios from your cast and crew may prove difficult depending on their ages and/or organization levels. Having these all in the can early will also help you nail down a page count. 

Include a Short Plot Synopsis

Your plot synopsis should be at the front of your program, giving patrons a glimpse into what they can expect from your show.

Pro tip: Avoid spoilers of any kind! A plot synopsis can be as vague as you want – as long as your audience can follow along and get the gist. You want to leave them curious and wanting more. 

Organize the Musical Programming and Scenes/Acts 

In order to help audience members follow along with the play’s action, it’s common to include a scene list in the playbill. You can structure this page like an outline, listing the numbers or names of scenes, as well as the numbers and names of each individual act. Make sure to outline musical numbers, too.  

Like the synopsis, listing out your scenes will help your patrons follow along and know what to expect. 

Include Your Show Website and Other Social Media Platforms

Your show program should be used as a tool to advertise your theatre program at large. After all, many of your patrons will likely keep the program as a souvenir – so why not use it as a mini-billboard? 

Your show program should include the following:

  • A link to your show website, where patrons can learn more about your program and the show itself. 
  • A link or QR code that goes straight to a donation page.
  • All the social media handles you have and want to advertise. (Pro tip: Incentivize following your social media platforms with small giveaways! It’s all about engagement!) 

Consider a Thank You Page

It’s no secret that directing a theatre showcase requires a lot of hands. That being said, a ‘thank you’ page is a great way to honor patrons, make donors feel appreciated, spotlight community partners, and ensure your cast and crew feel celebrated for all their hard work. 

Select the Size/Page Count of Your Program

Once you’ve gathered all your artwork, secured cast and crew bios, written your plot synopsis, organized the musical programs and acts, nailed down your sponsors, sold ad spaces, and perfected your thank you page, you can select your page count and layout. 

Common sizes include multiples of four – and if you’ve stayed organized, you’ll know exactly how many people you should have from the jump. But if you’ve got everything organized and don’t know where to go … 

Partner with On The Stage

If you’re feeling overwhelmed with the overall concept of your program or need a partner to guide you as you work, On The Stage has a program generator that can help every step of the way. 

Try On The Stage’s Showgram

On The Stage presents Showgram, a proprietary program generator that empowers you to easily and quickly create printed or digital programs. These programs come pre-filled with your show information, including cast headshots and bios. And yes, you can also generate additional funds for your organization by selling advertisements and sponsorship recognition in your program. A few perks of ShowGram include: 

One-Click Program Creation

Save hours using the information pulled directly from your show site to quickly create a show program with one click.

Professional Program Generation

Get the impact of an entire marketing team without the high costs. Showgram allows theatres of all sizes to create a professional show program for every production effortlessly.

The Ability to Grow Sponsors and Community Support

You can easily sell custom advertisements to include in your Showgram to grow your sponsors and increase revenue.

Money-Saving Measures 

Save money by printing a Showgram yourself or go paperless with digital options.

Options for Printed and Digital Programs 

Showgram offers a pre-formatted print option for self-serve booklet printing and digital programs accessible through a QR code for a paper-free experience.

Easy-to-Use Editor

The user-friendly program generator makes it fun and easy for anyone on your team to make show programs.

Customizable to Meet Your Needs

Arrange the flow of the program and add unlimited pages or delete unneeded pages to best meet your specific production needs.

Ability to Generate Additional Revenue

Feature your custom show merchandise in your show program to generate more sales and increase funding for your organization.

Now that you have the tools to make a professional, dazzling show program, what are you waiting for? Partner with On The Stage today to utilize the top-notch Showgram technology. 

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