The Educational Theatre Association has unveiled its list of the most-produced plays, musicals, and short plays in U.S. high schools during the 2021-2022 school year, the result of a survey that has been conducted annually since 1938.
Mamma Mia! came out on top of the musicals list this year, with frequent chart topper The Addams Family falling into third place behind Music Theatre International's benefit revue All Together Now!, which was provided to schools and theatres to perform free of charge in celebration of the return of live, local theatre last year. New to the list of most-produced musicals is The SpongeBob Musical (titled SpongeBob SquarePants for its Broadway run).
This year's list newly tracked short musicals, with Disney's Frozen JR. topping the inaugural list, followed by Roald Dahl's Matilda: The Musical JR. and Disney's The Lion King JR. Notably, all of the short musicals in the top 10 list come from MTI's Broadway Junior collection, which adapts Broadway musicals for performance by elementary and middle school-aged actors.
The most produced play of the year was Clue—a title the work has held for three years—followed by Puffs, A Midsummer Night's Dream, and list mainstay Almost, Maine. Playwrights Don Zolidis and Jonathan Rand continue to dominate the most-produced short plays, with Rand's Check Please in the top spot as it was last year.
The survey also tracked school theatre programs rebounding from two school years marked by pandemic-related shutdowns, cancellations, and virtual productions. Of those surveyed this year, 77% reported they planned an in-person theatre season, with slightly more than 93% of those planned productions completing their full runs as scheduled—only 12% had to postpone performances due to COVID.
“The encouraging takeaway from this year’s play survey is that theatre is making a comeback in schools around the country,” says EdTA Content and Marketing Director Matt Curtis. “While many schools indicated that box office returns have taken a powerful and lingering hit due to limitations like socially distanced seating or a community’s hesitation to return to a live audience, teachers have shown that they were able to plan and execute theatre successfully with students, largely in-person, during the 2021-22 school year.”
Take a look at the complete list of the most-produced shows at high schools in the 2021-2022 school year:
1. Mamma Mia! (Catherine Johnson, Benny Andersson, and Björn Ulvaeus), Music Theatre International (MTI)
2. All Together Now! (Various), MTI
3. The Addams Family (Andrew Lippa, Marshall Brickman, and Rick Elice), Theatrical Rights Worldwide (TRW)
4. The SpongeBob Musical (Kyle Jarrow, Tina Landau, and various), Concord Theatricals (CT)
5. Disney's Beauty and the Beast (Alan Menken, Howard Ashman, Tim Rice, and Linda Woolverton), MTI
6. You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown (Charles M. Schulz, Clark Gesner, Michael Mayer, and Andrew Lippa), CT
7. Little Shop of Horrors (Alan Menken and Howard Ashman), MTI
8. Into the Woods (Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine), MTI
9. (tie) Disney's The Little Mermaid (Alan Menken, Howard Ashman, Glenn Slater, and Doug Wright), MTI
9. (tie) Disney's Newsies (Alan Menken, Jack Feldman, and Harvey Fierstein) MTI
1. Disney's Frozen JR. (Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Robert Lopez, and Jennifer Lee), MTI
2. Roald Dahl's Matilda: The Musical JR. (Dennis Kelly and Tim Minchin), MTI
3. Disney's The Lion King JR. (Elton John, Tim Rice, Will Van Dyke, Lebo M, Mark Mancina, Jay Rifkin, Roger Allers, and Irene Mecchi), MTI
4. Disney’s Beauty and the Beast JR. (Alan Menken, Howard Ashman, Tim Rice, and Linda Woolverton), MTI
5. (tie) Annie JR. – (Charles Strouse, Martin Charnin, and Thomas Meehan), MTI
5. (tie) Disney’s High School Musical JR. – (David Simpatico and various composers), MTI
5. (tie) Disney’s Moana JR. (Opetaia Foa‘i, Mark Mancina, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Susan Soon He Stanton), MTI
8. Into the Woods JR. (Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine), MTI
9. Disney’s The Little Mermaid JR. (Howard Ashman, Glenn Slater, Alan Menken, and Doug Wright), MTI
10. Seussical JR. (Lynn Ahrens, Stephen Flaherty, and Eric Idle), MTI
1. Clue (Sandy Rustin, Hunter Foster, and Eric Price), Broadway Licensing (BL)
2. Puffs (Matt Cox), CT
3. A Midsummer Night’s Dream (William Shakespeare), public domain
4. Almost, Maine (John Cariani), BL
5. She Kills Monsters (Qui Nguyen), CT
6. 12 Angry Jurors (Reginald Rose), Dramatic Publishing (DP)
7. Alice in Wonderland (Lewis Carroll), Various
8. Radium Girls (D.W. Gregory), DP
9. Peter and the Starcatcher (Rick Elice and Wayne Barker), MTI
10. Our Town (Thornton Wilder), CT
1. Check Please (Jonathan Rand), BL
2. 10 Ways to Survive the Zombie Apocalyps (Don Zolidis), BL
3. The Brothers Grimm Spectaculathon (One-Act) (Don Zolidis), BL
4. (tie) 13 Ways to Screw Up Your College Interview (Ian McWethy), BL
4. (tie) Law & Order: Fairy Tale Unit (Jonathan Rand), BL
6. Bad Auditions by Bad Actors (Ian McWethy), BL
7. (tie) Cut (Ed Monk), BL
7. (tie) Our Place (Terry Wayne Gabbard), DP
7. (tie) Oz (Don Zolidis), BL
7. (tie) This Is a Test (Stephen Gregg), DP
The Educational Theatre Association houses both the Educational Theatre Foundation and the International Thespian Society and works to support, celebrate, and increase access to theatre education.
For more on the 2021-2022 survey, visit SchoolTheatre.org.