Filling the Seats: Top 10 Most Performed Plays & Musicals in High School Theaters

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There are few things more satisfying than being able to proudly say that your most recent high school theatre production was a fully sold-out show. This holds true for all your production cast and crew; everyone loves to be a part of something that was well received and popular enough that there were no empty seats or spare tickets to be had!

Ken Davenport, Tony Award-Winning Broadway Producer and blogger at The Producer’s Perspective, posted a list of the Top 10 Most Performed Plays & Musicals in High Schools as curated by the lovely people at Educational Theatre Association. While this list is from 2010, the ETA folks put together an annual list that might be something to look into when choosing your upcoming season.

Here’s how the top 10 high school plays and musicals stack up:
Plays

Almost, Maine
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
You Can’t Take It With You
Noises Off
Twelve Angry Men
Alice in Wonderland (various adaptations)
The Crucible
Our Town
Neil Simon’s Fools
A Christmas Carol (various adaptations)

Musicals

Beauty and the Beast
Suessical
Grease
Into the Woods
Footloose
The Wizard of Oz (various adaptations)
You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown
The Music Man
Once Upon a Mattress
Thoroughly Modern Millie

If you are familiar with these plays and musicals, then you may have noticed that many of these works have one major thing in common – they rely on a large cast. Large casts are great for high school theatres and filling the seats for a number of reasons, but let’s do a little number crunching to help illustrate this helpful factor.

Let’s use Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods as our example.

The cast is quite large. With over 25 roles of varying sizes, this is an absolutely fantastic ensemble piece. There is something for everyone, and while there are a few more substantial roles (the Witch, the Baker and the Baker’s Wife), there is also a large selection of fabulous, fun supporting roles that will appeal to your student body.

With this many roles you are likely to draw a number of family members into your audience. If you figure 4 audience members per cast member, you’re looking at approximately 100 people right there.  Now, 100 audience members do not a sold-out show make, but this doesn’t even take into account friends, the school student body, and crew-members’ family and friends! And word of mouth advertising! Word of mouth advertising can have such a tremendously positive effect on ticket sales (what parent doesn’t love to brag about their child’s most recent theatre endeavor).

These types of ensemble showpieces are fantastic for drawing a crowd and creating buzz. It also helps that Into the Woods has won several Tony Awards and undergone a number of professional revivals, so this particular show has some staying power and dare I say a plethora of fans already.  These factors are all major benefits and will definitely help you fill the seats and (hopefully) sell out your show!

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Has your high school theatre produced any of these plays or musicals recently? Weigh in by leaving us a comment below – we would love to hear from you!

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