School theatres’ most popular plays, musicals


Education Theatre Association’s 84th annual play survey results

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According to the Educational Theatre Association’s (EdTA) annual play survey, “Mamma Mia!”, Disney’s “Frozen JR.”, “Clue” and “Check Please” received top billing in their respective categories for the most-produced shows during the 2021-22 high school year.

A category for short musicals is new to the survey this year.

Conducted every year since 1938, EdTA’s annual survey of the plays and musicals most frequently produced in America’s schools shows what resonates with students (teens), their teachers, families and communities. The results represent a snapshot of school theatre industry trends, with responses from EdTA-affiliated schools as well as many non-affiliated schools. And in the 2021-22 school year, a trend back toward live, in-person productions was evident. COVID-19 safety protocols still had an effect on school theatre, though not as severely as the previous two years.

Tried-and-true titles mostly dominated the musical categories. “Mamma Mia!” knocked “The Addams Family” out of the top spot for most-produced full-length musical, sending it to third. MTI’s newly developed “All Together Now”, a musical revue released specifically to be produced as a fundraiser for school theatre programs, came in at second place. The only other new title to break into the top 10 was “The SpongeBob Musical” at fourth place in its first full year of availability to school programs.

While “Clue” remains at the top for the second consecutive year, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” continues its now-32-year run of appearing in the top 10 most-produced full-length plays. “Our Town”, which remains a perennial favorite since the dawn of this survey, came in again this year at number 10 in the category.

Overall, high school theatre participation is on the rise. EdTA reports more than 15,000 new thespians were inducted into the International Thespian Society in May 2022.

EdTA is the parent organization of the International Thespian Society, the middle and high school theatre honor society that has recognized more than 2.4 million students since 1929, and Dramatics, which initiated the annual play survey.

Here are the complete top 10 results for each category surveyed:

Most-Produced

Full-Length Musicals

2021-22

1. Mamma Mia! – by Catherine Johnson, Benny Andersson, and Björn Ulvaeus (Music Theatre International)

2. All Together Now! – by various composers (Music Theatre International)

3. The Addams Family – by Andrew Lippa, Marshall Brickman, and Rick Elice (TRW)

4. The SpongeBob Musical – by Kyle Jarrow, Tina Landau, and various composers (Concord Theatricals)

5. Disney’s Beauty and the Beast – by Alan Menken, Howard Ashman, Tim Rice, and Linda Woolverton (Music Theatre International)

6. You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown – by Charles M. Schulz, Clark Gesner, Michael Mayer, and Andrew Lippa (Concord Theatricals)

7. Little Shop of Horrors – by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman (Music Theatre International)

8. Into the Woods – by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine (Music Theatre International)

9. (tie) Disney’s The Little Mermaid – by Alan Menken, Howard Ashman, Glenn Slater, and Doug Wright (Music Theatre International)

9. (tie) Disney’s Newsies – by Alan Menken, Jack Feldman, and Harvey Fierstein (Music Theatre International)

Most-Produced Short

Musicals 2021-22

1. Disney’s Frozen JR. – by Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Robert Lopez, and Jennifer Lee (Music Theatre International)

2. Roald Dahl’s Matilda: The Musical JR. – by Dennis Kelly and Tim Minchin (Music Theatre International)

3. Disney’s The Lion King JR. – by Elton John, Tim Rice, Will Van Dyke, Lebo M, Mark Mancina, Jay Rifkin, Roger Allers, and Irene Mecchi (Music Theatre International)

4. Disney’s Beauty and the Beast JR. – by Alan Menken, Howard Ashman, Tim Rice, and Linda Woolverton (Music Theatre International)

5. (tie) Annie JR. – by Charles Strouse, Martin Charnin, and Thomas Meehan (Music Theatre International)

5. (tie) Disney’s High School Musical JR. – by David Simpatico and various composers (Music Theatre International)

5. (tie) Disney’s Moana JR. – by Opetaia Foa‘i, Mark Mancina, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Susan Soon He Stanton (Music Theatre International)

8. Into the Woods JR. – by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine (Music Theatre International)

9. Disney’s The Little Mermaid JR. – by Howard Ashman, Glenn Slater, Alan Menken, and Doug Wright (Music Theatre International)

10. Seussical JR. – by Lynn Ahrens, Stephen Flaherty, and Eric Idle (Music Theatre International)

Most-Produced

Plays 2021-22

1. Clue – by Sandy Rustin, Hunter Foster, and Eric Price (Broadway Licensing)

2. Puffs – by Matt Cox (Concord Theatricals)

3. A Midsummer Night’s Dream – by William Shakespeare (public domain)

4. Almost, Maine – by John Cariani (Broadway Licensing)

5. She Kills Monsters – by Qui Nguyen (Concord Theatricals)

6. 12 Angry Jurors – by Reginald Rose (Dramatic Publishing)

7. Alice in Wonderland – by Lewis Carroll (various licensing companies)

8. Radium Girls – by D.W. Gregory (Dramatic Publishing)

9. Peter and the Starcatcher – by Rick Elice and Wayne Barker (Music Theatre International)

10. Our Town – by Thornton Wilder (Concord Theatricals)

Most-Produced Short

Plays 2021-22

1. Check Please – by Jonathan Rand (Broadway Licensing)

2. 10 Ways to Survive the Zombie Apocalyps – by Don Zolidis (Broadway Licensing)

3. The Brothers Grimm Spectaculathon (One-Act) – by Don Zolidis (Broadway Licensing)

4. (tie) 13 Ways to Screw Up Your College Interview – by Ian McWethy (Broadway Licensing)

4. (tie) Law & Order: Fairy Tale Unit – by Jonathan Rand (Broadway Licensing)

6. Bad Auditions by Bad Actors – by Ian McWethy (Broadway Licensing)

7. (tie) Cut – by Ian McWethy (Broadway Licensing)

7. (tie) Our Place – by Terry Wayne Gabbard (Dramatic Publishing)

7. (tie) Oz – by Don Zolidis (Broadway Licensing)

7. (tie) This Is a Test – by Stephen Gregg (Dramatic Publishing)

Submitted by the Educational Theatre Association.

Education Theatre Association’s 84th annual play survey results

Submitted story