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The Best Musicals for High Schools: Our Top Picks

The best musicals for high schools to perform. Good musicals for high schools to do and popular plays for school theatre!

Musicals are a fantastic way to showcase talent, creativity, and school spirit.


These productions offer high school kids and younger students a chance to express themselves, work as a team, and bring a story to life.


Choosing the right musical for your high school can have an unforgettable impact on both the performers and the audience.


From classics like "Mary Poppins" to contemporary picks like "The Little Mermaid," there's a musical suited for every school's unique resources and needs.


The best musicals for high schools should offer memorable songs, engaging stories, and roles that can be filled by a diverse cast of students.


While some shows require elaborate sets and costumes, others can be staged more simply without losing their charm. Budget and resources are also important considerations when selecting a musical.


Fortunately, many great musicals are well-suited to high school productions, balancing manageability with high artistic payoff, making it possible to put on a fantastic show regardless of budget constraints.


In this article, we'll explore the best musicals for high school theatre programs.


So without further ado, let's dive right into it!


Criteria for Choosing Musicals for High Schools

When choosing a fun musical for high school or middle school theatre programs, it's important to explore necessary criteria.

Choosing the right musical for high school students involves considering several key factors such as age appropriateness, cast size and diversity, subject matter, musical complexity, and technical requirements.


Age Appropriateness

When selecting musicals for high schools, it's important to pick shows that are suitable for the age group.


Avoid themes or language that are too mature or complex for teenagers.

Instead, opt for stories that resonate with young audiences.


Example musical ideas: Mary Poppins, Cinderella, and Lion King Jr. are excellent choices.


Look for content that students can relate to but that also challenges them in appropriate ways.


Cast Size and Diversity

The diversity and size of the cast can significantly affect the choice of musical.


Larger schools with many students interested in performing might benefit from musicals like Cinderella, which require a big ensemble.


Conversely, small schools might prefer The Fantasticks or Godspell, which need fewer performers.


Ensure you choose a musical that provides roles for a variety of skill levels and backgrounds.


Subject Matter and Themes

High schools should look for musicals with meaningful themes that can engage students and audiences.


Good musicals for high schools often address issues relevant to teenagers such as identity, friendship, and overcoming obstacles.


For instance, Dear Evan Hansen deals with social anxiety and loss, while Heathers tackles issues like popularity and bullying.


Selecting shows with strong, relatable content can make a significant impact.


Musical Complexity

The musical complexity of a show is another crucial consideration.


Choose musicals that fit the talent and experience levels of your students.


For example, Mary Poppins requires advanced singing and dance skills, while Big Fish or A Christmas Carol might be easier to perform musically.


Balance challenging your students with ensuring they can perform confidently and enjoy the experience.


Technical Requirements

Technical aspects, including set design, costumes, and special effects, are key when choosing a musical.


High-budget schools with ample resources might take on more elaborate productions like Mary Poppins.


On the other hand, schools with limited budgets should consider simpler shows like The Secret Garden or Thoroughly Modern Millie.


Evaluate your school's technical capabilities to make an informed decision.


Best Musicals for High Schools to Perform

During the school season, the best musicals for high schools include the Spongebob musical and The Addams family, among others.

When choosing a musical for a high school production, it's essential to consider the resources available, cast size, and the appeal of the show to students and the audience.


Contemporary Choices

Dear Evan Hansen tackles social issues like anxiety and loss. Its modern feel and relevant themes resonate well with teens.


Hamilton offers a fresh take on historical events with its rap and hip-hop style. Though demanding, it’s a crowd-pleaser.


Legally Blonde is vibrant and energetic, featuring strong female roles and catchy songs.


Contemporary musicals also tend to excite students who recognize the music from Broadway or soundtracks.


Classic Musicals

Mary Poppins is a grand and magical show based on the beloved movie. It requires ample resources for sets and costumes.


Cinderella is timeless and includes a mix of magical elements and humor. It’s great for larger casts and has detailed costumes.


The Sound of Music includes well-known songs and a touching story. It works with a variety of cast sizes and showcases strong individual performances.


These classics remain favorites due to their recognizable songs and engaging stories.


Underrated Gems

Once Upon a Mattress brings humor and a new twist to a classic fairy tale. It provides unique roles and plenty of laughter.


The Addams Family is quirky and fun, catering to a range of acting abilities. Its dark humor and catchy tunes make it memorable.


You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown offers simplicity with charm. It’s especially good for smaller casts and minimal staging.


These lesser-known shows can offer fresh experiences and stand out for their originality and uniqueness.


Budget-Friendly Musical Suggestions

Producing a musical on a tight budget requires careful selection. Here are some options that can effectively cut costs through minimal set and costume needs, royalty-free options, and small-cast choices.


Minimal Set and Costume Requirements

Choosing a musical with simple set and costume requirements can significantly reduce production costs.


"You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown" is popular due to its minimalistic approach.

The show only needs basic settings like a classroom and a playground. Costumes are simple and can be sourced from regular clothing.


"The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" also fits this category. It requires only a gymnasium setting and basic costumes that resemble school uniforms, making it budget-friendly.


Opt for shows with easy-to-recreate environments to save on set construction and costume expenses.


Royalty-Free Options

Some fantastic musicals are in the public domain or have very low licensing fees, reducing overall costs.


“The Pirates of Penzance” by Gilbert and Sullivan is a great example. As it's in the public domain, you don’t have to pay for royalties.


Another option is “H.M.S. Pinafore”, which also falls in this category with catchy tunes and simple set requirements.


By exploring royalty-free options, you can allocate your budget towards other production elements such as lighting and sound.


Small-Cast Choices

For schools with tight budgets, musicals that require a small cast can be cost-effective.


“Godspell” typically calls for a cast of around 10, which helps save on costume and other resources.


"The Last Five Years" is an even more budget-friendly option. Plus, the smaller cast means fewer costumes and a simpler, more intimate setting.


Selecting small-cast musicals allows you to focus resources on quality over quantity, ensuring a polished and professional production on a limited budget.


Managing Rehearsals and Time Commitments

For each teen edition of a beloved musical, theatre education should make sure that high school theatre programs respect each student's time.

Organizing rehearsals and managing time commitments are crucial aspects of staging a successful high school musical.


This includes setting efficient practice schedules and ensuring students can balance academic responsibilities with their roles in the production.


Efficient Rehearsal Scheduling

Creating an efficient rehearsal schedule for a high school musical involves a few key steps. First, assess the availability of the cast and crew.


Utilize tools like Google Calendar or scheduling apps to find common free times.

Prioritize scenes that involve the most characters to maximize rehearsal time.


Divide rehearsals into manageable chunks. For example, focus on specific scenes or songs each day, rather than trying to cover everything at once.


Ensure there are ample breaks to keep students focused and energized.

Post the schedule where everyone can see it.


Flexibility is important. Be prepared to adjust the schedule if conflicts arise.


Keep communication lines open so that any changes are promptly conveyed.


Scheduling regular tech rehearsals closer to the performance date can also help iron out any technical issues and ensure everyone is on the same page.


Balancing Academic and Rehearsal Time

Balancing academics with rehearsal time is essential for keeping students not only engaged but also successful in their classes.


School musicals demand significant time, but academics should not suffer.


Encourage students to prioritize their schoolwork and manage their time wisely.


Set clear expectations from the beginning. Make sure students know their rehearsal commitments and how it will affect their other responsibilities.


Communication with teachers can be beneficial. Informing them about the musical might result in some flexibility with project deadlines or homework.


Consider study sessions or homework hour integrated into the rehearsal schedule, this allows students to work on their assignments during their breaks.


Encourage teamwork and support among cast members to help each other manage both schoolwork and rehearsals.


Promoting Your High School Musical

Effective promotion is key to ensuring your high school musical performance is well-attended and highly anticipated. Focus on targeted marketing, engaging the community, and a strong social media presence.


Marketing Strategies

A well-planned marketing strategy is essential. Create eye-catching posters and flyers with bold colors and clear fonts.


These should be displayed in high-traffic areas like school hallways, cafeterias, and local community centers.


Consider advertising in the school's newsletter, and on the school website.


Announcements during school assemblies or sporting events can also reach many students and parents.


Collaborate with local businesses to display promotional materials in their shops or offer sponsorship in exchange for advertising.


Community Engagement

Engaging the community can build excitement and support. Host preview events or open rehearsals where the public can get a sneak peek.


Invite local media to cover these events and publish articles about the production.


Involve parents and alumni by asking them to volunteer for tasks such as costume-making, set-building, or ticket sales.


This not only builds support but also shares the workload. Partnering with local organizations can also help spread the word and generate community interest.


Leveraging Social Media

Social media platforms are powerful tools for promotion. Create event pages on Facebook and share behind-the-scenes content on Instagram.


Use hashtags specific to your musical and school to increase visibility.


Encourage students to share posts and stories to create a buzz.


Running a countdown to the performance date can build anticipation.


Posting short video clips or character introductions can engage potential audience members.


Ensure that all posts are consistent in style and informative.


Ensuring a Lasting Impact

Selecting the right musical for high school not only entertains but also fosters growth and reflection among students. It's crucial to embrace both educational opportunities and post-production activities to create a memorable experience.


Educational Opportunities

Choosing musicals such as "Mary Poppins," "Dear Evan Hansen," or "Annie" presents numerous learning chances. These performances help students develop their acting abilities and understand complex themes.


Teachers can integrate history, music, and drama lessons related to the musical.

For example, studying the social issues depicted in "Dear Evan Hansen" can lead to discussions on mental health and empathy.


Encourage students to research the era and context of the musical they are performing.


This deepens their grasp of the material and enhances their performance. Incorporating these educational benefits can make the project more meaningful.


Post-Production Reflection

After the final curtain falls, it's important to reflect on the experience.


Organize sessions where students can share what they've learned and how they've grown. Focus on both personal and group accomplishments.


Encourage students to discuss challenges they faced and how they overcame them.


This helps them appreciate the effort and teamwork involved in staging a musical.

You can also gather feedback to improve future productions.


Celebrating successes and learning from mistakes ensures that the experience leaves a lasting impact on everyone involved.


Key Takeaways

  • Choosing the right musical can create a memorable experience for both performers and the audience.

  • Popular musicals like "Mary Poppins" and "Dear Evan Hansen" are great for high school productions.

  • Balancing budget and artistic payoff is crucial when selecting a show.


Frequently Asked Questions

Selecting the best musicals for high school plays involves considering a range of criteria, including budget, cast size, and themes. Here are answers to some common questions about choosing the right musical for your school.


What criteria should be considered when selecting a musical for a high school production?

When choosing a musical, think about the cast size required and the talent pool within your school. Consider the themes and ensure they are appropriate for a school setting. Look at technical requirements like sets, costumes, and music, and see if they match your resources.


Which musicals are best suited for high schools with limited budgets?

For schools on a budget, consider musicals that require minimal sets and costumes. Examples include "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown" and "Once Upon a Mattress." Scripts that allow flexibility in staging can also save costs. Although a personal favorite, the Spongebob musical is also a great option, with plenty of fun songs that can be included in a high school version.


What are some of the most female-centric musicals appropriate for high school performances?

Female-centered musicals often feature strong roles for women. "Little Women" and "Legally Blonde" are excellent choices. These musical theatre shows offer complex characters and compelling stories that revolve around female leads.


Can you list popular Disney musicals that are frequently performed in high schools?

Disney musicals are a hit in high schools for their familiar stories and songs. Common choices for a contemporary musical include "Beauty and the Beast," "The Little Mermaid," and "Mary Poppins." These high school plays are vibrant and family-friendly.


Which musicals have historically been the favorites for high school productions?

High school favorites often include classics like "Grease," "The Sound of Music," and "Bye Bye Birdie." These shows have proven popular due to their memorable music and broad appeal. According to the annual play survey from the Educational Theatre Association, three of the most popular musicals for high schools include Frozen, The Spongebob Musical, and The Addams Family.


How does a high school typically go about securing rights for a musical performance?

Securing performance rights for your music theatre performance involves contacting the rights holders or licensing agencies. Companies like Music Theatre International (MTI) and Concord Theatricals manage the rights for many well-known musicals. Simply apply for a license well in advance of your planned show dates so that everything runs smoothly.

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