Play Program Examples and Templates

Templates Available for Download below!

In this entry I would like to take you step by step how to make a program. This can be for plays, musical reviews, dance concerts, etc. Below you will find directions on what information to gather, then how to put it together using Photoshop.

NOTE: If you want a tutorial on how to create a program from scratch in Word, I have a video tutorial assignment that I sell on my Teachers Pay Teacher site. Feel free to check it out!

I have also included examples of the nine programs I've made for our own school plays. If you would like to purchase a template for any of these shows, see the links below. You can purchase the template with or without the logo--if you are doing that specific show, then the logo--which is original artwork--is useful. If you plan on altering it for your own needs, there is no need to purchase the logo.

Consider Your Needs

First of all, you must decide several things before you begin:

1. How many pages? Is is 4, 8, or 12? In the beginning I always did 8 page programs (two pages front and back) but lately, with the reputation of how awesome our programs and our plays are, we have easily been able to raise more than enough to pay for printing with ads, so now we do 12 page programs (3 pages front and back.)
2. Will we be getting advertising?  If you do advertisements, consider going up to another page to accommodate them. Also, give yourself plenty of time to get them! I don't get a single ad myself--the students bring them in! You can see the sponsorship form we use here.
3. Printing: Before you get too far, get some quotes for printing. I've found that its sometimes the same price to get the whole thing done in full color rather than black and white. We get ours printed through FedEx. For a 12 page program, full color, it cost about $850. It's much cheaper if you do black and white and less pages.
4. Find some artwork. Do we have a logo? While you don't need a lot of artwork, its nice if you at least have a logo or a theme. My good friend Henry Ballesteros did the graphic design for all our logos for years, and they really inspire me as to what direction to take with each program. Now I do the logos myself. You can always find things to add as well--like for the Oklahoma! program I found a great picture of growing wheat to go in the background, and some shots of barbed wire that I could use as well. If you purchase the logo version of the templates, you will get the logo but also the pieces of the logo so they can be used in different ways.  If you are doing your own logo, then it shouldn't be too difficult!

Gather Information

Now that you have answered the preliminary questions, you are ready to gather your information. As I am not the director or even really that involved in the play itself, this is the information I collect from those in charge. You will need to collect at least some of these--depending on what you want to include in your program.

1. First and last names of the Leads and the characters they are playing. I like to do headshots of the leads to go in each program, so figure out which are the 6 or 8 or 9 most important leads--whatever number is right for the play. Generally it's from 6-9 headshots, but when our school did Beauty and the Beast and then Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat back to back, we had A LOT of headshots!
2. List of all the chorus members and everyone else actually IN the play. I usually do a mockup of the program and send it around during a rehearsal so kids can mark if their names are spelled correctly.
3. Committee lists--the director, music director, etc. You'll see a sample  in the template of what type of people should be listed here.
4. Tech Crew--I swear this is the hardest one to get because tech crew is often not assembled until the very end. SUCH a struggle every time!
5. Musical Numbers (or scenes) - At this point I usually just borrow the book for the musical and go through to enter the scenes as they are written in the book.
6. Pictures--to me, this is challenging but so worth it. It's what makes the program a keepsake for those involved. I usually coordinate with the director to find a date they are doing a hair and makeup rehearsal that is just before my turn-in date with FedEx. Then I take a few (ok a lot) of photos during their rehearsal. You don't need a ton, but enough to get good shots of the leads and as many chorus people as you can.
7. Special Thanks - I usually a Special Thanks section where we put the names of parents who helped, the costume company, whatever.
8. Ads - if you are doing ads, make sure you have the artwork of each ad ready to go in digital form.
9. Copyright information - When you purchase a play, there are certain copyright verbage you must include on the program. Some companies ask that you send them a copy of your program to prove you included it! The verbage required will be in the Director's handbook that came with the purchase of the rights to the play. Make sure you include this information!

Plan Your Layout

Now that you have your information, time to lay it out! I will continue this tutorial for an 8 page program--or, 2 pages front and back in a booklet. Layout for a program of this size should look like this for page numbers. I usually get blank pages out of my printer and mark them up with  marker, showing where I want each thing to go, before I even touch Photoshop. This is just a suggestion--I don't always do it exactly like this!

This is assuming you have no ads. If you DO have ads, you can squeeze them in on the back page or below committees, add another page, or don't do as many pictures on page 4 and 5.

Using Dot Leaders in Word

Entering Text Using Word

Because I use Photoshop for this (not being well-versed in InDesign) I have to fudge it a little for some of the Word Processing features. For example, you cannot do dot leader tabs in Photoshop. So I type them up in Word first, then save it as a .pdf file. Pull that pdf file into Photoshop and it will be treated like a picture. You can't make changes to it--if there are changes you will have to make them in Word and then import them again. BUT--Photoshop is not a word processing program. It's not easy to get it to line up in columns and especially to do the dotted lines leading out to each person's name.

How to get dot leaders in Word 

How do you do that anyway? Well, I DO teach Word for a living, so here it goes for Word 2010. In Word, type the first title (Director) and then on the Home tab go to the Paragraph section and click on the tiny arrow in the lower right corner, as shown above. When the menu comes up, click on the "Tabs" button in the lower left corner. Then, set a left or a right tab with dot leaders, as shown.I usually set my tabs to 3.5 or 4. Test out what you think looks right for your needs.
Now when you press the tab key, you will have dots leading you out to where you set your tab, and you can enter the names needed. You'll end up with something like this. Note--the first half is a left tab at 3.5 with a dot leader, and the second half is a right tab at 4 inches with a dot leader.
Now when you save it, first save it as a Word doc. Then save it again, but this time, change the file type to .pdf when saving.

Add Your Information

From here on out you can add your information as needed. I try to stuff it full of as many pictures as I can! Below I have pictures of all ten programs that I've done--you can get a lot of ideas of how to lay out your information by looking at those examples.

Saving Your File Correctly

Make sure when you are totally done, that you save this correctly. You do NOT want to give the printer your psd files because A) they can only be opened in Photoshop B) they are huge and C) If they don't have the fonts you've used, you'll lose your fonts!

So, when completed, first go to Layer>Flatten. This will make all your layers into one layer. Then go to Save As and choose PDF from the list. These PDF files are the ones you want to give to your printer. 

Purchase Templates!

 Below you will find the images for the ten programs I've done over the years at my school. You can see I got more and more detailed each year! You are welcome to use these images to help you plan, or you can purchase the templates from me at my Teachers Pay Teachers store. I have them in the Logo and the Non-logo versions. Just clip your pictures in, rearrange if needed, and you  are ready to go! I am still in the process of converting them to templates at the moment--if the one you want isn't available, please contact me. If you would like me to customize a program for your event for a fee, I am willing to do that as well. Please contact me.

Available Templates

Bye Bye Birdie

Guys & Dolls
(Template Available)
If you would like to purchase the template for this program, you can find it here
You can also get the NON logo version, which includes the template in a Word document, if you do not have access to or are unable to use Photoshop.

(Template Available)

If you would like to purchase the template for this program, you can find it here.
You can also get the NON logo version, which includes the template in a Word document, if you do not have access to or are unable to use Photoshop.

Thoroughly Modern Millie
(Template Available)
If you would like to purchase the template for this program, you can find it here.
Pirates of Penzance
(Template Available)

If you would like to purchase the template for this program, you can find it here.
(Template Available)
If you would like to purchase the template for this program, you can find it here.

For cost, I'll tell you what we paid for this last program for Oklahoma! For 1000 full color programs it was only $442.00 at Fedex. I thought that was a pretty awesome price!


Beauty and the Beast
(Template Available)
If you would like to purchase the template for this program, you can find it here.

Last year for Beauty and the Beast we got A LOT of ads, and were able to add another page. I also did the logo completely by myself! I really love how it turned out!

I hope this helps you create the perfect program for whatever your event is!

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
This year I was able to design the logo again and it was so fun! We had the boys who play the brothers actually pose in costume for the silhouettes, as well as Joseph and Jacob. What a fun show it was!

The Lion King, Jr.

Our Lion King was the best play we've done yet! Our costumes were amazing and the singing incredible. The best was that we had it all done with ASL interpretation, so every main character had an ASL performer dressed just like them that followed them and did the sign language. The effect was astounding and strangely touching! I have not made a template for this one and have no plans, at present, to do so. But if you want it, please email me and I will see what I can do.


  1. Thank you so much for all this, it really helps.

  2. This is a great resource, thank you so much for putting all this information together.

  3. Thank you :) this really helped me with my own school play :)

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