In writing a musical I have 3 primary and 7 minor characters - some of whom can be also used in the ensemble. There are four scenes in the two act play in which an ensemble consisting of, at most at this point ,13 people, appears ( have already cut three) They are not a chorus..I have named the people in the ensemble and given them individual characteristics , although they are really townspeople and such. They create a tone for the scenes and the background of the pace and situation. I have been told by a playwright( of straight dramas) that this is far too many people unless I am aiming for Broadway...that no regional theatre will take it. Is this true? And should I take it into consideration? To lessen the number of people (and their individualities) would take away from the atmosphere and function of the scenes. Do I keep on track or lessen the impact and depth of the scenes by eliminating part of the ensemble?
It's a straight question of economics. Thirteen actors plus musicians (you don't say what sort of music) is expensive. Schools love huge casts, but that's because they don't pay them and they want many people involved.
It may be different in other countries, but in Britain regional theatres don't do many musicals other than pantomimes. Amateur groups put them on regularly. Otherwise, you usually have to go to a large city to see one because you need a large theatre to seat enough people to make it pay.
Thank you so much for your comments----This is very helpful. To clarify - The 13 people are the participants of a crowd scene.... and the "7 minor characters" are separate from the ensemble- yet because they appear only once or twice in the play they would be used as part of the crowd scenes (actually, in two crowd scenes four of the minor character appear as themselves).I know this sounds confusing. The opening crowd scene introduces the audience to the environment in which the main characters live..(as well as the main characters) and the same characters appear in an essential scene later in the play..I would like the audience to be familiar with them. Two other crowd scenes have different characters but , again, the same actors can be used in them. (and Robbie Goodwin, I think of the multitude of characters that appear in Sunday in the Park.. during George's scenes with the subjects he is painting... (the mother, the soldiers, the boatman-- etc... insofar as they are individuals -part of an ensemble but not a chorus--). I really do appreciate your comments-I want to make sure that what we are doing is viable....,