Which Musicals Are the Top Shows for High Schools?

The list includes classics like Beauty and the Beast, Little Shop of Horrors, and more!

By: Oct. 31, 2021
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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 2022/23'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.

10. Mean Girls: High School Version

Need to know where you belong? Mean Girls: High School Version follows Cady Heron, a teenager who moves from Africa to an American high school and becomes entangled in a web of popularity, social cliques, and teenage drama. As she navigates the treacherous world of high school, Cady must decide whether to succumb to the toxic culture of "mean girls" or rise above it to champion authenticity, friendship, and kindness.

Get the rights through MTI

Memorable Songs: "It Roars," "Stupid with Love," "Someone Gets Hurt," "I'd Rather Be Me," "I See Stars"

The Roles: Cady, Regina, Janis, Damien, Gretchen, Karen, Aaron, Mrs. George/Ms. Norbury, Mr. Duval, Kevin G.

9. Legally Blonde

Thinking pink? Legally Blonde: The Musical revolves around the journey of Elle Woods, a fashionable sorority girl who enrolls in Harvard Law School to win back her ex-boyfriend. As she navigates the challenges of academia and stereotypes, Elle discovers her own intelligence, strength, and determination, proving that being true to oneself and defying expectations can lead to success and empowerment.

Get the rights through MTI

Memorable Songs: "Omigod You Guys," "What You Want," "So Much Better," "Bend and Snap," "Legally Blonde"

The Roles: Elle Woods, Emmett Forrest, Paulette, Professor Callahan, Warner Huntington III, Vivian Kensington, Brooke Windham

8. Chicago: Teen Edition

Get ready to paint the town! Chicago: Teen Edition is a youth-friendly adaptation of the iconic musical "Chicago." Set in the roaring 1920s, the show delves into the dark and glamorous world of jazz, crime, and corruption. It follows the story of Roxie Hart, a young woman who dreams of fame and uses her murder trial as a platform for her rise to stardom, while exploring themes of celebrity culture, media manipulation, and the pursuit of the American Dream.

Get the rights through Concord Theatricals

Memorable Songs: "All That Jazz," "Cell Block Tango," "Roxie," "Razzle Dazzle," "Nowadays"

The Roles: Roxie Hart, Velma Kelly, Billy Flynn, Fred Casely, Amos Hart, Matron 'Mama' Morton, Liz, Annie, June, Hunyak, Mona, Mary Sunshine, Go-To-Hell Kitty

7. The SpongeBob Musical

Ready for a trip to a pineapple under the sea? The SpongeBob Musical is a theatrical adaptation of the beloved animated series. Set in the underwater town of Bikini Bottom, the musical follows SpongeBob and his friends as they face a catastrophic event that threatens their home. Through humor, friendship, and catchy original songs, they embark on a heroic journey to save their community and discover the power of unity.

Get the rights through Concord Theatricals

Memorable Songs: "Bikini Bottom Day," "BFF," "(Just a) Simple Sponge," "Chop to the Top," "I'm Not a Loser"

The Roles: SpongeBob SquarePants, Eugene Krabs, Patrick Star, Sandy Cheeks, Sheldon J. Plankton, Squidward Q. Tentacles, ensemble

5. (tie). Disney's Beauty and the Beast

It's the tale as old as time! Disney's Beauty and the Beast musical tells the timeless tale of Belle, a young woman who finds herself trapped in an enchanted castle with a prince who has been transformed into a beast. As Belle discovers the beauty within the Beast and forms an unlikely bond, she learns the importance of looking beyond appearances and embracing love, compassion, and selflessness. 

Get the rights through MTI

Memorable Songs: "Belle," "Gaston," "Be Our Guest," "Something There," "Beauty and the Beast," "A Change In Me"

The Roles: Belle, Beast, Maurice, Gaston, Lefou, Les Filles De La Ville, Lumiere, Cogsworth, Mrs. Pots, Chip, Madame De La Grande Bouche, Babette, Monsieur D'arque, Villagers

5 (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

4. 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

3. 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

2. Mamma Mia!

Take a chance on this musical! Mamma Mia! weaves together the iconic songs of the Swedish band ABBA with a heartwarming and comedic storyline. The musical follows a young bride-to-be named Sophie who invites three men from her mother's past to her wedding, hoping to discover which one is her father. Set on a picturesque Greek island, the show is a celebration of love, friendship, and the joyous power of ABBA's music to bring people together.

Get the rights through MTI

Memorable Songs: "Dancing Queen," "Mamma Mia," "The Winner Takes It All," "Take a Chance on Me"

The Roles: Sophie, Donna, Sam, Bill, Harry, Sky, Tanya, Rosie, Lisa, Ali, Pepper, Eddie, Chorus

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

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!