The Educational Theatre Association (EdTA) has released its annual list of the most produced plays, musicals, and short plays at middle and high schools in the United States, a list they have maintained since 1938. Reflecting the 2019-2020 school year, this year's survey also examined the impact of COVID-19 closures and cancellations on school theatre departments.
Topping the list of musicals for the second year in a row was The Addams Family, followed by Mammia Mia! and Beauty and the Beast. The most-produced full-length play was the newly available Clue, with school stalwart Almost, Maine coming in at number two and Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream following. The top short play was Check Please, followed by 10 Ways to Survive the Zombie Apocalypse and Tracks. The complete list is below.
A large percentage—85—of the nearly 3,300 schools surveyed reported canceled performances, leading to 2.6 million fewer people in the audience and resulting financial losses. This financial hit amounted to more than half of the season's budget for 28 percent of responding schools, and between 26-50 percent of the budget for an additional 30 percent of respondents. Nearly half of the schools surveyed reported that these losses will lead to cutbacks to their 2020-21 seasons and/or other arts-related activites and opportunities.
Despite the losses and cancelations, this year's schools reported a total audience of 3.6 million. Even with the estimated loss of 2.6 million potential audience members due to COVID-19-related cancelations, this number translates to an estimated total audience for all school theatre nationwide of more than 49 million, roughly comparable to the combined audience for Broadway touring companies and regional theatres.
EdTA's philanthropic arm, the Educational Theatre Foundation, has established a relief fund for schools affected by COVID-19. The Thespian Relief Fund will award grants to help school theatre programs continue despite revenue and district budget losses in the 2020-2021 school year. More information about making donations and applying for grants can be found at EducationalTheatreFoundation.org.
Take a look at the complete list of the most-produced shows at middle and high schools in the 2019–2020 school year:
1. The Addams Family (Andrew Lippa, Marshall Brickman, Rick Elice), Theatrical Rights Worldwide (TRW)
2. Mamma Mia! (Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson, Catherine Johnson), Music Theatre International (MTI)
3. Beauty and the Beast (Alan Menken, Howard Ashman, Tim Rice, Linda Woolverton), MTI
4. Into the Woods (Stephen Sondheim, James Lapine), MTI
5. The Little Mermaid (Alan Menken, Howard Ashman, Glenn Slater, Doug Wright), MTI
6. Seussical (Lynn Ahrens, Stephen Flaherty, Eric Idle), MTI
7. (tie.) Little Shop of Horrors (Howard Ashman, Alan Menken), MTI
7. (tie.) Matilda (Dennis Kelly, Tim Minchin), MTI
9. The Wizard of Oz (various), Concord Theatricals (CT)
10. Cinderella (Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein II, Douglas Carter Beane), CT
1. Clue (Jonathan Lynn, Hunter Foster, Eric Price, Sandy Rustin), Playscripts (Pl)
2. Almost, Maine (John Cariani), Dramatists Play Service (DPS)
3. A Midsummer Night’s Dream (William Shakespeare), public domain
4. Peter and the Starcatcher (Wayne Barker, Rick Elice), MTI
5. Radium Girls (D.W. Gregory), Dramatic Publishing (DP)
6. 12 Angry Jurors (Sherman L. Sergel, Reginald Rose), DP
7. She Kills Monsters (Qui Nguyen), CT
8. Puffs, Or: Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic and Magic (Matt Cox), CT
9. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (Simon Stephens, Mark Haddon), DPS
10. Romeo and Juliet (William Shakespeare), public domain
1. Check Please (Jonathan Rand), Pl
2. 10 Ways to Survive the Zombie Apocalypse (Don Zolidis), Pl
3. Tracks (Peter Tarsi), DP
4. (tie.) Check Please: Take 2 (Jonathan Rand), Pl
4. (tie.) The Brothers Grimm Spectaculathon (Don Zolidis), Pl
6. (tie.) The Actor’s Nightmare (Christopher Durang), DPS
6. (tie.) Law & Order: Fairy Tale Unit (Jonathan Rand), Pl
6. (tie.) The Internet Is Distract – Oh Look a Kitten (Ian McWethy), Pl
9. Our Place (Terry Wayne Gabbard), DP
10. The Lottery (Brainerd Duffield, Shirley Jackson), DP
For more on the 2019–2020 survey, visit SchoolTheatre.org.