Which Musicals Are the Top Shows for Schools? (2023)

From Broadway superstars to Broadway super fans; Tony winners to Tony viewers- most lovers of the arts can trace their passion back to humble origins- their high school theatre programs. According to the EDTA High School Play survey, over 26,000 US high schools have a theatre program, which means that hundreds of thousands of teenagers are bit by the theatre bug every year.

Which musicals make the best high school productions? While some might argue that classics like Fiddler on the Roof or Guys and Dolls are perfect for introducing teens to Broadway, many programs dare to present more modern musicals, like Legally Blonde or Catch Me If You Can.

Picking a musical that's right for your program can depend on many factors, including the size of your cast, interest of your students, and of course, availability of performance rights. Below, we're outlining the pros of 2020/21's most produced high school shows, including insight on the background, roles, songs and more!

Find out what musicals are done the most at schools.

9 (tie). Bright Star

Written by Steve Martin and Edie Brickell, Bright Star incorporates a warm, banjo-driven score that evokes the spirit of the American South. Taking place over two different time periods in the 20th century, this folktale of heartbreak and transformation is both uplifting and powerful. Get the rights through Theatrical Rights Worldwide.

Memorable Songs: "Bright Star," "Sun Is Gonna Shine," "If You Knew My Story," "Woah Mama," "At Last"

The Roles: Alice Murphy, Billy Cane, Jimmy Ray Dobbs, Margo Crawford, Lucy Grant, Daryl Ames, Daddy Cane, Mamma Murphy, Daddy Murphy, Mayor Josiah Dobbs

Students from Arcadia Stage perform Bright Star:

9 (tie). Into the Woods

The fairytales continue in this beloved Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine musical that incorporates stories from The Brothers Grimm and Charles Parrault. Since it debuted on Broadway in 1987, Into the Woods has become a staple in high schools everywhere as one of Sondheim's most accessible shows. Get the rights through MTI!

Memorable Songs: "Into the Woods," "Children Will Listen," "Giants In the Sky," "No One is Alone"

The Roles: Witch, Baker, Baker's Wife, Cinderella, Jack, Little Red Riding Hood, Wolf, Rapunzel, Cinderella's Prince, Rapunzel's Prince, Narrator, Jack's Mother, Cinderella's Stepmother, Mysterious Man, Cinderella's Mother, Florinda, Lucinda

Students from Arlington Martin High School perform Into the Woods:

9 (tie). The Little Mermaid

Ariel has big dreams to be a part of another world in this first Disney title on the list. Based on the classic 1989 film, with music by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, the musical features double the songs (written by Menken and Glenn Slater), with a book by Doug Wright. Get the rights through MTI!

Memorable Songs: "Part of Your World," "Under the Sea," "Poor Unfortunate Souls," "Kiss the Girl"

The Roles: Ariel, Prince Eric, King Triton, Flounder, Sebastian, Scuttle, Ursula, Chef Louie, Flotsam, Jetsam, Grimsby, various seas creatures and townspeople

Students from Wallkill Valley Regional High School perform The Little Mermaid:

7 (tie). Little Shop of Horrors

Since it premiered off-Broadway in 1982, this odd, little sci-fi musical has maintained a cult following. One of the first shows written by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, Little Shop of Horrors has become hugely popular with community theatre, schools and other amateur groups because of its small cast and relatively simple orchestrations. Get the rights through MTI!

Memorable Songs: "Suddenly Seymour," 'Skid Row," "Be a Dentist," "Somewhere That's Green"

The Roles: Seymour Krelborn, Audrey, Audrey II, Mr. Mushnik, Orin Scrivello, Crystal, Ronnette, Chiffon

Students from St. Francis High School perform Little Shop of Horrors:

7. Disney's High School Musical

East High takes center stage in this meta musical, which started as a hit Disney Channel movie. High School Musical is a teen love story set amongst the complicated politics of what else, but an ordinary American high school. The show must go on as the Wildcats try to balance their own personal drama with their growing list of extracurriculars. Get the rights through MTI!

Memorable Songs: "Breaking Free," "Start of Something New," "Get'cha Head in the Game," "Stick to the Status Quo," "We're All in This Together"

The Roles: Troy Bolton, Gabriella Montez, Sharpay Evans, Ryan Evans, Chad Danforth, Zeke Batlor, Taylor Mckessie, Jack Scott, Kelsi Nielsen, Ms. Darbus, Coah Bolton

Students from Ridge Drama Club perform Disney's High School Musical:

6. Godspell

Based on the Gospel of Matthew, this 1970s favorite boasts some of the most well-know songs in the Broadway canon. With music by beloved composer Stephen Schwartz and a book by the visionary John-Michael Tebelak, Godspell mixes biblical parables with vibrant music and comedic storytelling. Get the rights through MTI!

Memorable Songs: "Day By Day," "Prepare Ye," "Bless the Lord," "Turn Back, O Man," "We Beseech Thee," "All Good Gifts"

The Roles: Jesus, John the Baptist, Judas, Ensemble

Students from Martin High School Theatre perform Godspell:

5. Little Women

Based of the classic book by Louisa May Alcott, Little Women gives a big voice to four of literature's most beloved heroines. This timeless, coming-of-age story follows the March sisters in navigating Civil War-era society and in their quests for personal discovery. Get the rights through MTI!

Memorable Songs: "Astonishing," "Take a Chance on Me," "Some Things Are Meant to Be," "Days of Plenty"

The Roles: Jo March, Beth March, Amy March, Meg March, Marmee, Professor Bhaer, Laurie Laurence, Mr. Laurence, Aunt March, John Brooke

Students from Jacobs High School perform Little Women:

4. The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

Peppered with humor and wit for all ages, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee tells the stories of six pre-pubescent kids as they try to prove their spelling prowess. With a quirky book by Rachel Sheinkin and a spirited score by William Finn, this interactive musical is both hilarious and touching. Get the rights through MTI!

Memorable Songs: "I Speak Six Languages," "The I Love You Song," "Pandemonium," "I'm Not That Smart," "My Friend the Dictionary"

The Roles: Chip Tolentino, Logainne Schwartzandgrubeniere, Leaf Coneybear, William Barfee, Marcy Park, Olive Ostrovsky, Rona Lisa Peretti, Douglas Panch, Mitch Mahoney

Students from Francis Lewis High School perform The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee:

3. The Theory of Relativity

Written by Neil Bartram and Brian Hill, this fresh, new song cycle is relatable to all in its depictions of love, heartbreak, and the joy of human connection. Get the rights through MTI!

Memorable Songs: "Relativity," "The End of the Line," "Great Expectations," "Footprint," "Apples & Oranges," "Promise Me This"

The Roles: Amy, Caroline, Catherine, Jenny, Julie, Mira, Sara, Adam, Anthony, Oliver, Mike, Paul, Ryan

Students from West Forsyth High School perform The Theory of Relativity:

2. You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown

Happiness in in your favorite comic characters onstage! The Peanuts gang comes to life in this beloved musical of songs and vignettes, based on Charles Schulz's comic strip. This revised version of the show features additional music by Andrew Lippa. Get the rights through Concord Theatricals!

Memorable Songs: "My New Philosophy," "Little Known Facts," "Suppertime," ""Happiness," "Beethoven Day"

The Roles: Charlie Brown, Lucy, Sally, Schroeder, Snoopy, Linus

Students from Glasgow High School perform You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown:

1. The Addams Family

Based on Charles Addam's iconic cartoons, the ghoulish title family comes to life for one normal night in this musical by Andrew Lippa, Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice. The macabre tale debuted on Broadway in 2010 and has been snapping its way to high school stages ever since. Get the rights through Theatrical Rights Worldwide!

Memorable Songs: "When You're an Addams," "Pulled," "Crazier Than You," "Not Today"

The Roles: Gomez, Morticia, Uncle Fester, Grandma, Wednesday, Pugsley, Lurch, Mal Beineke, Alice Beineke, Lucas Beineke, various Addams Ancestors

Students from Milan High School perform The Addams Family:

Which roles did some of Broadway's best actors perform in high school? Find out!

Need more help? We've got tips on when to buy tickets to a Broadway show, how to get there, what to wear, and how to know if it's age appropriate!

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