Questions & Answers about A Mouse Christmas
What does it cost?
$79.95 is all it costs, plus shipping and handling. You'll spend more on cheese and snacks to feed the kids than on A Mouse Christmas - What a deal!
How Long Does it Last?
A Mouse Christmas is about 30 min long. This works perfect for a 1 hour service or event if you sing some songs before the presentation, or have a short opportunity for people to respond to the message afterward. Then, have a reception with refreshments for the kids and audience. It is also really great for inviting non-believers, and having some sort of FOOD for them afterwards will give them reason to stick around and give you a chance to get to know them.
What do you get?
Check out the "what you get" section for details, but you get a directors "Big Cheese" master script, a photo copyable unbound script, and two CD's, plus access to all the tips and photos on this site!
What else can you get?
Great question! You can also purchase the Optional Production Pack CD - filled with over 100 hours of time savers! And A Mouse Christmas Video! The Mouse Christmas Video is great for picking up on dance steps, staging and general flow of the musical. A real time saver and inspirational aid!
What if my local copy shop won't make copies for me?
If the place you take your script or production pack materials is reluctant to make copies for you, (which they should be), then you will need to print our or reference our permission letter online.
- Copy Permission Letter -
How many rehearsals should I plan?
Twelve rehearsals should be enough to pull things off nicely. You can do one per week during a normal service, or have two per week to shorten your lead time to opening night. It is highly recommended that you plan a long dress rehearsal of about 4 hours with two breaks, just prior to the production. This will let the kids go through things with lights and sound in the actual place of performance... and lets the adults doing the lighting and sound get their act together too! (and you thought kids were a challenge! ;-)
Do I need lots of expensive and fancy lighting
Not at all! Sure, you can rent or use fancy lighting if you have it. Yes, it adds lots of atmosphere and mood that you won't get with a flashlight... but we've seen churches use 300watt halogen flood work lights on a yellow metal stand, stuck right in the middle of the center aisle of chairs and flip them on and off for scene changes! Click! Crude, but effective. The more zones you can set up, the better. But one zone, the whole room, with a light on light off, will work. Dimming up and down is much less detracting. Look at the photos on the main page. They are taken in a large sanctuary with about twelve lights, set for six zones, all dimmable. An ideal small setup would be three zones, stage right for shepherds, sheep and full shots, stage center for main action, and stage left for Mouse Family. Then, set up a trouble light on the angel location that can be flipped on for angels and Roman Soldier. Simple!
How can I make stars like I see in the photos?
The stars in the photos can easily be created in several ways. You can project them with a slide projector or two. You can create a simple box with foil covering the front and pin holes poked through to cast star lights. (be careful that you don't use combustible materials and make sure to ventilate and cool properly. Or you can even hang miniature Christmas lights or poke them through something hanging down. Hanging them and putting them on a dimmer to adjust and fade them in and out would be great! The ones in the photos were projected with a TV projector, (the same used for overheads during worship services), and then they were digitally copied and spread around the sky for the website photos. You could setup 2-4 overhead projectors with dark paper and little holes punched in them and get some great star fields.
Do I have to have a big church?
Certainly not! A Mouse Christmas works with small, medium and larger numbers of animals... urr, kids! Check out the cast list and then just think about how you could set up two or three areas in front of your audience. You don't need lots of space or people, but you can easily handle lots if you need to.
How many kids does it take?
As many as you have! Really! Just take a look at the cast, and note the various sizes of groups that it will work with. Check out the cast list here
Easy To Do with Many or a Few!
A Mouse Christmas was originally written for a large church and performed with 24 kids and 4 adults. It was later re-written to work in small or churches with just a handful of kids and adults (we've seen it done with 8 kids and 4 adults!). or with over 100 kids!
Can I put on A Mouse Christmas with Puppets?
This is a terrific Idea! A Mouse Christmas would be wonderful to perform with puppets! If you would like to let your kids enjoy A Mouse Christmas, but don't want to go to all the work of producing a full staged musical, then puppets are the perfect way to go. Of course, you should be aware that once everyone sees the show, they will want to do the musical themselves! But there is always a downside to even the most perfect event!
How many adults does it take?
Again, you can really get creative here. Four adults/teens are best, more is ok, less might be... but just make sure that Mama Mouse and Joseph can sing well, and that Papa Mouse can tell stories well, and you'll be fine!
We've never done a musical before, what does it all cost to put on?
It really varies, depending on the size of the group, the size of sets and type of costumes, and most importantly the amount of volunteers you enlist to help get it all done. The first production of A Mouse Christmas was put on for about $178. Really! That created the sets like you see in the photos, and purchased many supplies for creating costumes. Volunteers sewed and created costumes, and painted mountains... If you pay people to create things, purchase expensive materials (like buying new sheets, rather than using old sheets for angels) and then promote the production as an outreach to your city, you could spend $1500-$2500 as some large churches have done. It's really up to you.
Is there anything that might not work in my church or denomination?
We don't think so! We've stuck pretty close to the "traditional" Christmas story, using scripture at times and taking a radical new perspective on the actual historic event of Christ's birth... about six feet lower of a perspective to be exact! Ask any scholar, and you'll find that it's hard to say with complete certainty exactly what happened 2000 years ago. But if you can't trust Papa Mouse, who can you trust?
How can I maximize the impact that A Mouse Christmas has on our kids?
It is really important to help kids connect to more than just the fun of the songs in the musical. Help them connect to the meaning of the words of each song, and how they might apply to their own lives. You'll find that often, the slow songs become their favorites, because they have so much meaning for them. Once you connect a song to the imagination of a child, you have made a connection to their mind and heart that will stay with them for many many years to come!
Can you really use a children's musical as an outreach?
We've had people tell us how they were invited by a friend, came to see the musical thinking it would be "cute" and were so moved that they gave their lives to the Lord! So, the next time we did the musical we shared this with our Sr. Pastor, and with his support and the vision to reach out to our community, we told the kids about how they could share the Gospel and change lives. We set two performance dates, one for the church body and one for people outside our church. We made ticket invitations for the kids to give away to friends, put up posters in laundry mats and malls, placed some newspaper ads, press releases, radio PSA's and even got two TV stations to show up and tape the dress rehearsal for the evening news, which offered an invitation to viewers for the next night. The 450 people who attended the second night were worth the extra effort! A Mouse Christmas - saving the world one squeak at a time!
What about that cool fireplace? How did you make it?
The fireplace was actually easy to make and is only about a six to eight hour project for any weekend person who is reasonably skilled with tools and a paint can. The drawing pattern and general instructions are included on the Production Pack and it makes a great addition to the feel of your production, as well as a re-useable prop for other events and productions in coming years. Cost: about $30
What about the other sets, were they hard to make?
The sets in the photos are actually very easy to construct and assemble. But even they are optional. The musical works fine in any room where you can control the lighting enough to give the sense of a change in time or place. Even dimming lights will work if you can't actually make things "dark". Anyway, the plans and construction techniques are detailed on the Production Pack. You can print out the plans, hand them to anyone in your church who can handle a jigsaw and a screw gun drill, tell them to modify them for your stage or sanctuary, and they should be able to create a mountain set in about four hours. It can be created, painted and assembled in one 6-8hr Saturday! Even the manger takes only about 2-4hrs complete! The whole set can be created in one day by one skilled person! Tips on painting it with wood grain textures in about 1 hr are also on the Production Pack! Find a handy Dad and turn him loose!
Who are the Composers/Playrights of A Mouse Christmas?
A Mouse Christmas was composed and written by Bruce & Jennifer Searl and arranged by Gene Skinner. Bruce & Jennifer are the owners of Aardvark Hill Music. In addition to Aardvark training and ant farming, Bruce and Jennifer compose music, lead worship at surrounding churches and lead workshops and seminars on teaching and leading adults, youth and children in worship. Aardvark Hill is fast becoming the webs favorite source for great new contemporary worship, sacred choral music and secular children's choral music.
How Did it all begin? (The story, behind the story...)
It's a dreaded feeling. Summer is over. School is just starting. Everything is ramping up to that full tilt, flat out, "I know I forgot something important" fervor that we all know so well... and then you realize... Christmas. For most of the world, Christmas is still a long ways away. If you are involved with Children's ministies in your church... It's almost too late! Sure you could pull out the same bulwarks of the season - Or you could give your children a special opportunity to touch their community with the message of Jesus birth.
Finding the right Christmas production can be disheartening. I know - my wife and I tried it. You can spend days searching though the sparse music section of your local Christian book stores, or surf endlessly on the web to find lots of offerings that are too cutesy, too silly, too fluffy, too dull, too old, too young... too late - it's November!
You Don't Have To Write Your Own Musical!
I don't know if it was out of desperation, stupidity, or shear madness, but Jennifer & I decided that we could write our own musical... In ten weeks... At the same time that we were rehearsing it, recording tracks, building sets, props, costumes, lighting, promotion, programs... (Isn't it encouraging to know that there are people out there who are far more messed up than you are! Yes, I have asked my parents if there is a genetic defect in my family line or if I was dropped as a child?).
So, with a performance date firmly set, we sat down and began. It had to be cute of course, full of humor and fun. But what we really wanted and found lacking in so many productions were two things. It had to have meaning. We wanted to reach out and touch lives with a message that was strong enough to impact adults, and unsaved people. It seemed to us that a Christmas musical that was fun for the kids, heart warming for their parents and a low attendance diversion for the rest of the congregation was just not enough. We all know what power kids have when they express their love for the Lord. What we wanted to do was aim that power right at the hearts of the audience with a children's musical that would be surprisingly adult in it's message.
When we told the music pastor, and good friend Gene Skinner what we where going to do, he looked at us with a stark sense of reality and said, "You can't write a musical." (I've learned long ago that such comments, while perhaps true will never detour me). He then spent many hours notating songs from bad cassettes and scribbled lyrics, making arrangements and helping record the tracks. Much of A Mouse Christmas's success is due to Gene's talent and willingness to help us do the impossible.
We wrote one song per week, and the script in stages and revisions. We began rehearsals with just one song written and just a rough draft of the first 2/3rds of the script. We auditioned new parts and kept our eyes open for strong kids to offer additional parts to as they were created. The lamb scene, created the second time we performed the musical, provided short speaking parts for very young kids, and turned out to have the funniest lines of the show.
By the third time we directed and produced the musical, we had gone through it enough in large and small churches to have polished it up for use by other churches.
Sometimes Dreams Really Do Come True!
By God's grace and more than a little help from many friends, we ended up with a children's Christmas musical that is truly rare. One that your kids will love to be in, love to sing the songs of and love to perform. And... One that more than just parents would like to see. One that people that don't even normally attend your church might come to see... Wouldn't it be great if you could let your kids perform for their friends at school, un-churched families and have a message and music that is strong enough to actually impact their lives?
Your Children Are A Powerful Witness!
You wouldn't believe the effect that your kids and the Holy Spirit can have on people! Families will bring other families and friends for an enchanting evening of children dressed up as animals and a re-tailing of the Christmas story. When they get there, adults can't help but be moved by the songs, lyrics and the powerful messages of A Mouse Christmas.
We've had people tell us how they were invited by a friend, came to see the musical thinking it would be "cute" and were so moved that they gave their lives to the Lord! So the next time we did the musical we shared this with our Sr. Pastor, and with his support and the vision to reach out to our community, we told the
kids about how they could share the Gospel and change lives. We set two performance dates, one for the church body and one for people outside our church. We made ticket invitations for the kids to give away to friends, put up posters in laundry mats and malls, placed some newspaper ads, press releases, radio PSA's and even got two TV stations to show up and tape the dress rehearsal for the evening news, which offered an invitation to viewers for the next night. The 450 people to the second night were worth the extra effort! A Mouse Christmas - saving the world one squeak at a time!
Behind the scenes photos of A Mouse Christmas: