Musical Filter
May 2, 2014 1:24 PM   Subscribe

How do I buy a copy of a Broadway libretto?

I'm looking for the full libretto (lines, songs, stage directions, and musical score) of "Annie," book by Thomas Meehan, music by Charles Strouse, lyrics by Martin Charnin.
On Amazon I can find only "vocal selections" books.
I found a PDF of the entire libretto online but it is locked so it cannot be printed, and I am supposed to "license" it from the company Music Theater International.
It is for a school production and we would like to not pay a lot of money.
A DRM-broken version would be OK if it will not bring the avenging theater copyright gods down on us.
posted by bad grammar to Media & Arts (10 answers total)
Yes, you have to license the production of a Broadway show. Even for school productions. That's why you probably won't find it for sale legitimately. This is just the way these things work.
posted by brentajones at 1:35 PM on May 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

It is for a school production and we would like to not pay a lot of money.

If you are putting on a musical at a school, you need a license for what you are planning. That's what MTI does.

You're inviting a very expensive lawsuit otherwise.
posted by Jahaza at 1:37 PM on May 2, 2014 [3 favorites]

MTI actively searches out unlicensed productions and will cause you a fair amount of pain if you're caught. If the licensing costs are prohibitive, then there may be grants from various arts organizations that can help cover the costs, or there are public domain musicals (Gilbert & Sullivan).

Now, when you license the production, they'll sell you rentals of the libretto books, scores, and other material. Whether you choose to photocopy those materials to be able to mark them up / avoid paying for more rental copies is between you and your copy machine.
posted by zachlipton at 1:57 PM on May 2, 2014

A high percentage of the ongoing income for the producers, composers, and writers of musical theater comes from licensing fees to groups like yours. They will protect that income vigorously.

I am lead to believe that they used to (maybe still do) even employ clipping services to scan newspapers to see who, even in tiny little towns, is mounting productions of their shows.
posted by BillMcMurdo at 1:59 PM on May 2, 2014

Every musical in MTI's catalogue is protected under the US Copyright Act. Before you can produce a musical, you must obtain a license. A license grants you rights to perform the show...

Note however that MTI also has "School Editions" for many musicals including Annie, and if your school is a grade school, it also has Junior versions of the librettos. I think these are lower priced; MTI will be happy to give you a quote for the costs of licensing the production.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:02 PM on May 2, 2014

Yes, definitely look into Annie, Jr.; elementary and middle schools pay a very low rate to license.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 2:19 PM on May 2, 2014

I'm looking for the full libretto (lines, songs, stage directions, and musical score) of "Annie,"

FWIW, that's not what a libretto is. A libretto is text-only. And yeah, you have to license it if you don't want to court very expensive danger.
posted by KathrynT at 2:38 PM on May 2, 2014

FYI, a local theater group was denied a license for a musical because of a revival on Broadway (we're approx 30 miles from NYC).
posted by SemiSalt at 4:16 PM on May 2, 2014

Thanks, I will go ahead and request the licensing, though does renting mean we return the physical books to the company when done?

I have zero theater experience as you see (except obligatory participation at age 13 in the chorus of a 7/8 grade musical where the classes were so small, 30 kids, that everyone had to be in the chorus regardless of aptitude or desire to be there).
posted by bad grammar at 4:58 PM on May 2, 2014

Yes, you must return them and all writing in them must be in pencil and erased before returning.

You could make photo copies for your kids and just give them the parts they need so as not to stress over how they treat/ lose them.
posted by MayNicholas at 5:00 PM on May 2, 2014

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