67 Best Musicals For High School

Best Musicals For High School

By the time they're in high school, students are ready to sink their teeth into longer, more challenging musicals. We've rounded up the best musicals for high school students.

Many of these musicals are available in youth or teen editions to make them more appropriate for younger actors.

SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical

Release Date: 2016

SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical follows everyone's favorite sponge along with his familiar troupe of friends as an impending volcanic eruption threatens to wipe out Bikini Bottom. Songwriters include a surprising number of critically-acclaimed artists like John Legend and The Flaming Lips.

Most high schoolers are already familiar with SpongeBob, making this a great musical for newcomers. The songs aren't too taxing, and the performance is fantastic for a large cast.

The Lion King

Release Date: 1997

The Lion King is likely a familiar favorite with most high school students. The songs are fun and full of energy, and students will love the costumes.

The play requires 17 speaking parts, and there's plenty of room for more students in the ensemble. It's a great way to bring new kids into your theater program.

Grease

Release Date: 1971

Grease is the original high school musical, and students will love performing this classic. The songs are catchy, and Sandy and Danny's “Summer Lovin'” is sure to be a hit with the high school setting.

It has a cast of 18 with equal parts for males and females. There's also room for an ensemble.

13

Release Date: 2008

If you're working with a younger group of high schoolers, 13 is a fantastic coming-of-age tale. It tells the story of Evan Goldman, who's moving from New York to Indiana right before his Bar Mitzvah.

The original Broadway version had an entire cast and band of teenagers, making this an authentic option for high schools. It has eight roles and an ensemble.

The Wedding Singer

Release Date: 2006

The Wedding Singer is a musical based on the Adam Sandler movie of the same name. It's the story of Robbie, a wedding singer, who gets dumped at his own wedding and then falls in love with a girl who's already engaged.

Teens will enjoy the cheesy 80s-inspired songs and costumes.

Annie

Release Date: 1977

Annie is a broadway classic and is an exciting option for younger high school groups with a large number of girls. Many schools opt for Annie because of its optimism. It's a family-friendly musical, and it will draw in a large crowd.

The musical is performed in two acts. It also has eight major speaking roles, plus an ensemble.

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

Release Date: 2005

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee is a quirky musical that is well-suited to older performers with some improv skills. It's set during a spelling bee with a small group of kids and three adult officiants.

The musical requires audience participation as well. It's great for a small and experienced cast. It also works well for a slightly more mature audience.

Bare: A Pop Opera

Release Date: 2000

Bare is a good option for high school students as it takes place among a group of teens at a Catholic school. It follows a young gay couple and their friends as they face questions of sexuality and religion. It's set alongside a school performance of Romeo and Juliet.

Bare has a small cast with room for an ensemble. It's best for older performers due to its mature themes.

High School Musical on Stage!

Release Date: 2007

While many kids may deem High School Musical a bit too cheesy for their tastes, many theater kids love its wholesomeness, basketball choreography, and catchy songs. There are some standout roles for big personalities, especially Sharpay and Ryan.

The show is perfect for a large cast, and the songs are fun and easy to learn.

Oliver!

Release Date: 1960

Oliver! is a classic musical based on the classic work by Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist. It's the story of a young boy who is turned out on the streets after asking for more food. He falls in with a band of childhood thieves.

The musical is written for 17 actors and an ensemble.

Goosebumps: The Musical

Release Date: 2021

Many high schoolers likely read R.L. Stine's Goosebumps series when they were younger. The musical version adapts the book Phantom of the Auditorium. Students will enjoy the silliness of this tale.

The program is fantastic for theater groups with older and younger kids. It's a good option for family-friendly showings.

West Side Story

Release Date: 1957

West Side Story is a popular choice among high school drama groups. It has a large ensemble cast and exciting dance numbers. There are also tricky roles for talented students, like Anita and Bernard.

The story follows Tony and Maria, young lovers who are kept apart by rival gangs. Teens will easily be able to relate their story to Romeo and Juliet.

Camp Rock: The Musical

Release Date: 2010

Camp Rock: The Musical tells the story of a feud between rival music camps. One is a ragtag group of underdogs, while the others are more polished. The musical covers the plots of the Disney movies Camp Rock and Camp Rock 2.

There are 15 speaking parts and an ensemble. Many kids have already seen the films, so it should be a hit.

Heathers: The Musical

Release Date: 2010

Most of the teens in your theater group likely haven't heard of the 1988 film Heathers, but they are sure to be delighted by this wickedly funny musical. It follows four popular girls and a teen boy who wants to murder them.

There's a teen edition appropriate for high school actors. It features five leads and several other speaking parts.

Disenchanted!

Release Date: 2015

If your students are tired of doing the Disney classics, then Disenchanted! may be just the ticket. The musical, its title a punny nod to the Disney princesses, follows sassier versions of the fairy tale girls.

There's a high school edition available for licensing. The cast is made up of six to ten females and an ensemble.

Bye Bye Birdie

Release Date: 1960

Fans of Grease and West Side Story will also enjoy performing Bye Bye Birdie. It tells the story of a famous teen idol, Conrad Birdie, who's just been drafted into the military. His manager convinces him to do a final show and give a last kiss to a member of his fan club.

The musical requires six girls and five boys in the main parts, plus an ensemble. The script may need to be tweaked to make it appropriate for high school performers.

Emma: A Pop Musical

Release Date: 2017

Emma: A Pop Musical is based on the classic Jane Austen novel. It's been modernized and is now set in a high school where Emma is determined to match up all her classmates. The music consists of pop hits from beloved female singers.

The cast is made up of nine girls, five boys, and an ensemble. The subject matter and music make it perfectly suited for high school groups.

Seussical the Musical

Release Date: 2000

Seussical the Musical is based on the works of Dr. Seuss. It covers several of his most popular stories, including the following:

  • The Cat in the Hat
  • Horton Hears a Who
  • Green Eggs and Ham

Seussical is written for six main actors. There's also room for an ensemble.

Newsies

Release Date: 2011

Newsies is a musical based on the 1992 Disney film of the same name. It is a fictional account of the newsboy strike of 1899. It follows a teenage union leader and the two boys he takes under his wing.

Teens will enjoy the music and the fun dances. Newsies is a wonderful option for schools with a lot of boys auditioning.

Catch Me If You Can

Release Date: 2011

Catch Me If You Can tells the true story of Frank Abignale, Jr. Frank is a man who stole over $2 million by forging checks and successfully impersonating a pilot, doctor, and lawyer. He did this all before turning 21, making the musical based on his life a fantastic option for teens.

The program has seven leading roles and an ensemble. It's a great choice for schools with two strong male leads.

My Fair Lady

Release Date: 1956

My Fair Lady is a good option for classic Broadway enthusiasts. It's the story of Eliza Dolittle, a Cockney woman who gets caught up in a bet between two linguists. One bets the other that he can turn her into a proper lady. The ensuing comedy is funny and poignant.

My Fair Lady has a cast of two females and six males, plus an ensemble. It's a good option for a strong female lead.

Hairspray

Release Date: 2002

Hairspray is a musical based on the 1988 John Waters film of the same name. It tells the story of Tracy, an overweight teen with a big hairdo. She wants to dance on a teen TV program but is turned away. The show also rejects people of color. Tracy leads a march to make the program more diverse.

You can buy a license for the original or a junior version of the show, depending on the age of your students. There's a cast of 11 plus and an ensemble.

The Pirates of Penzance

Release Date: 1879

Many theater groups choose The Pirates of Penzance because it's in the public domain and doesn't require a license.

It's the story of a young indentured to pirates until his 21st birthday – only he learns he was born on a leap year and must remain indentured for many years longer.

Cinderella

Release Date: 1957

Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella is a popular musical for high school theater groups, as it's a familiar tale with a few twists on the Disney version.

It has a cast of five females, four males, and an ensemble. It's a classic option for performances for families or younger schools.

Freaky Friday: The Musical

Release Date: 2016

There have been many adaptations of Freaky Friday, including four movies. The performance tells the story of a teenager and her mom. The two just can't seem to understand one another, until a freak occurrence transfers them into the other's body.

The music is a fun option for high schoolers and doesn't require as much experience as some other classics. It's written for seven actors and an ensemble.

All Shook Up

Release Date: 2004

All Shook Up features the music of Elvis Presley. It follows the young people in a town where teenage affection is forbidden and what happens when a young rebel shakes things up. The story is reminiscent of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night and is a fun romp with mistaken identities.

Teens will love the music and costumes. The musical is made for nine speaking roles and an ensemble.

Footloose

Release Date: 1998

Footloose is another young vs. old story about a town that has outlawed dancing. The town gets turned on its head when a young dancer moves in and takes a liking to the pastor's daughter.

Footloose is an incredible choice for a theater group with a lot of skilled dancers. A high school version of the script is available for licensing.

Elf: The Musical

Release Date: 2010

If your group is planning a play for the holidays, Elf: The Musical is a great option. It's a funny story, and your students are likely familiar with the film. It follows Buddy, a human who grew up thinking he was one of Santa's elves.

The musical requires 11 roles and an ensemble cast. There's also a junior version available.

Mary Poppins

Release Date: 2004

Mary Poppins is one of the most popular musical films of all time, and the stage version is equally fun. A theater group with a love for the classics will enjoy the spirited singing and dancing in Mary Poppins.

It's ideal for a large cast as it has 16 speaking roles and an ensemble. If you're working with younger students, you may want to consider the junior version.

The Music Man

Release Date: 1957

The Music Man is set in the early 1900s. A con man comes to a small midwestern town and promises to train the town's boys into band members, selling the people instruments and uniforms. He plans to skip town but winds up falling in love with the town's librarian.

Drama groups can get licensing for the musical or a junior version. It's a large cast with 13 roles and an ensemble.

The Little Mermaid

Release Date: 2008

The Little Mermaid is one of Disney's most popular films and is sure to be a hit with high school drama clubs. Plus, kids may have a renewed interest due to the release of the new live-action film.

There's licensing available for the original version or a junior production. It has a cast of 12 and an ensemble. It's a good choice for groups with a couple of strong female leads to take on the roles of Ariel and Ursula.

Be More Chill

Release Date: 2015

Be More Chill started as a Young Adult novel by popular author Ned Vizzini. Jeremy is an unpopular, bullied teenager. He takes a pill that implants in his brain and teaches him how to be popular. The pill takes over, and Jeremy's life spins out of control.

The musical is ultimately a parable for being yourself, a good topic for teens. It's perfect for a small cast of ten.

Shrek: The Musical

Shrek: The Musical

Release Date: 2008

Most high school students have likely seen the Shrek films and should be eager to perform the musical. It's the story of an ogre with a chip on his shoulder who finds friendship and love as he makes his way through the world.

Schools will need a decent budget for makeup and costumes. It has seven primary roles and an ensemble. Licensing is also available for a junior version.

Carrie: The Musical

Release Date: 1988

With Carrie: The Musical, teachers can give their students a lesson in theater history. It's considered to be one of the biggest flops of all time. Over the years, the musical has gained cult status and has become a favorite among high schools.

Older students will enjoy performing the horror story. It's written for a cast of 14.

Schoolhouse Rock Live!

Release Date: 1993

Modern kids may not be familiar with the 1970s show, but they will enjoy this fun musical featuring a teacher preparing for his first day of school. It features many of the original show's most popular songs.

Schoolhouse Rock Live! is a good option for large groups as teachers can feature different students in different numbers.

Ruthless!

Release Date: 1992

Ruthless! is a convoluted tale of a young girl who is so determined to become a Broadway star that she's willing to commit murder. It's dark and witty, perfect for some talented actresses.

It has an all-female cast, making it perfect for all-girl drama groups. It also has a cast of seven.

Fiddler on the Roof

Release Date: 1964

Fiddler on the Roof is set in 1905 Russia and tells the story of Tevya, a father desperately trying to hold onto his Jewish traditions. His oldest daughters don't feel the same and want to choose their husbands based on love.

This important story is a popular option with high school groups. There are 14 roles and an ensemble.

Beetlejuice

Release Date: 2019

Beetlejuice is a wickedly funny musical about a demon who needs a living person to say his name three times so that he'll appear. He convinces a recently deceased couple to haunt the new family who moves into their house, including a grieving teenager.

There are 11 roles, and the titular role requires a particularly talented male. There currently isn't a school version, but groups can make adjustments to the original.

Hamilton

Release Date: 2015

Hamilton is one of the biggest musicals of all time. High schoolers will love seeing what they learned in history class in a new light. They'll also enjoy the rap and hip-hop score.

The musical is well-suited to a large, diverse cast. Groups will need talented singers, rappers, and dancers.

The Wizard of Oz

Release Date: 2011

Many students should be familiar with The Wizard of Oz from the 1939 film. The musical version is similar but includes a few new songs from Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice.

The Wizard of Oz is a fantastic option for high schoolers. The songs are fun, and they'll love the costumes and big group numbers. This option will need a talented art and costume department to bring the play to life.

Oklahoma!

Release Date: 1942

Oklahoma! set a precedent for modern musicals. It tells the story of two love triangles set in Oklahoma in 1905. It's a bit of a comedy of errors as two couples fight to end up with the right person.

The cast includes four females and six males. There's also room for an ensemble.

Ride the Cyclone

Release Date: 2008

Ride the Cyclone is a quirky tale fit for slightly more mature teens. It's the story of six teens who are killed in a roller coaster accident. A mechanical fortune teller gives one of them a chance to return to the living, but the group must vote on who returns.

The musical has seven main parts and a small ensemble.

Into the Woods

Release Date: 1986

For fairy tale fans who want something a little darker than a Disney musical, Into the Woods is a great choice. It incorporates several characters from the Grimm Brothers' fairy tales.

Into the Woods is perfect for a large cast, with 21 roles and an ensemble. A junior version is also available.

School of Rock

Release Date: 2015

School of Rock is based on the hit film of the same name. It tells the story of Dewey, a man who is kicked out of his band and poses as a substitute teacher.

He forms a new band when he discovers how musically talented his students are. It's a good option for a mixed-age group.

Little Shop of Horrors

Release Date: 1982

Little Shop of Horrors is a dark comedy about a shy young man who finds a mysterious plant. The plant turns murderous and is bent on world domination.

Groups will enjoy performing this musical because it's funny and has catchy 1950s doo-wop-inspired songs.

Matilda

Release Date: 2010

Matilda is based on the Roald Dahl book about a mistreated little girl with telekinetic powers. The musical is written for 14 roles and an ensemble.

It's great for a group of mixed ages, and the familiar favorite will draw in a large audience.

Spamalot

Release Date: 2005

Spamalot is a Monty Python parody of the King Arthur legend. It's witty and irreverent and a fantastic option for older, more experienced theater groups. There's a school edition with a large cast, including additional female characters.

Legally Blonde the Musical

Release Date: 2007

Legally Blonde follows the plot of a sorority girl who discovers her true calling at Harvard. It's a great musical for groups with strong female leads. It's written for a cast of seven plus an ensemble.

Tuck Everlasting

Release Date: 2015

Tuck Everlasting is based on the children's novel of the same name. It tells the story of Winnie, who meets a family of immortals, and contemplates becoming an immortal herself. It's made for a cast of ten and is perfect for middle and high school audiences.

Dear Evan Hansen

Release Date: 2016

Dear Evan Hansen is a popular musical with roles for talented kids. It tells the story of Evan, a teen with social anxiety, who is mistaken as a friend of a boy that commits suicide. The play is designed for eight roles.

The Addams Family

Release Date: 2010

The Addams Family is one of the most popular musicals for high school students. It's fun, and teens will love the costumes, the music, and the unique characters. There are ten featured roles and an ensemble.

Mamma Mia!

Release Date: 1999

Due to the popularity of the films and the music in recent years, Mamma Mia! is an amazing option for high schoolers. It tells the story of Sophie, who invites three men who may potentially be her father to her wedding. This play is good for strong female leads and large casts.

Zombie Prom

Release Date: 1993

Zombie Prom is sure to be a hit with teens. It's set in a high school where a boy from the wrong side of the tracks is dating the girl next door. When her parents forbid her from seeing him, he commits suicide and comes back as a zombie.

Cats

Release Date: 1981

Cats is a quirky choice but one that high schoolers can have fun with. The costumes, songs, story, and dancing are over the top. The musical is great for an experienced group. There's a young actors edition available for a cast of 24.

Wicked

Release Date: 2003

Wicked is one of the most popular musicals of all time. It's a different take on the Wizard of Oz story, told from the Wicked Witch's point of view. Wicked is an excellent option for strong female leads and can accommodate a large cast.

Beauty and the Beast

Release Date: 1994

Beauty and the Beast is a Disney musical featuring songs from the film and some new hits. It's a popular choice for performances for families and younger kids. There are also plenty of roles for a large cast and a junior version available.

The Secret Garden

Release Date: 1991

The Secret Garden is set in the early 1900s and tells the story of a young English girl who's orphaned in India and sent back to India to live with relatives. She discovers a secret garden along with a sense of home and family.

This musical is great for performances for younger audiences. There are several versions available, and it requires a cast of 24.

You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown

Release Date: 1968

You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown features the beloved Peanuts characters in a series of short stories. It's written for a cast of six and is great for younger audiences.

The songs are upbeat and silly, and students will have fun embodying the cartoon characters.

Mean Girls

Release Date: 2018

Mean Girls follows the same plot as the film of the same name, and its dark humor is sure to be a hit with high school students. It requires a cast with strong female leads, and it will draw in a large crowd.

Once Upon a Mattress

Release Date: 1959

Once Upon a Mattress is another good option for groups who want something a little more fun than classic fairy tales. It's a sendup of The Princess and the Pea and other famous stories.

It's written for a cast of 11 and an ensemble. A youth edition is also available.

The Prom

Release Date: 2018

Many students are likely familiar with The Prom film on Netflix. The musical tells the story of a young girl who's been banned from going to prom with her girlfriend. A group of washed-up Broadway stars rally to help her.

Little Women

Release Date: 2005

Little Women is based on the Louisa May Alcott book of the same name. It tells the story of the four March sisters living in 1800s Massachusetts.

The musical is a good fit for groups with strong female leads. There are nine feature roles and an ensemble.

Bring It On: The Musical

Release Date: 2011

For groups with strong dancers, Bring It On is a solid choice. It's loosely based on the film but with a different plot. It still tells the story of rival cheer teams from richer and poorer parts of town.

The musical is ideal for strong female leads. It has a cast of 12 and an ensemble.

The Sound of Music

Release Date: 1959

The Sound of Music is set during WWII and follows a young governess trying to decide whether to become a nun. The family has to escape the Nazis. It's written for a cast of 18, and it will teach students a lot about history.

Fame: The Musical

Release Date: 1988

Fame is about a diverse group of teens at a performing arts school in New York City. It depicts the ups and downs of trying to make it in show business.

There's a cast of 14 and an ensemble. A junior edition is also available.

Frozen

Release Date: 2018

Frozen is a familiar favorite with a fun, upbeat musical score. It's great for a cast with strong female leads and family performances. There's a large cast and a junior production for younger casts.

Guys and Dolls

Release Date: 1950

Guys and Dolls is a musical set in 1950s Manhattan. It follows a couple of gamblers and a bet to make a woman fall in love with one of them. Teens will love the catchy songs, costumes, and humor in this classic tale.

A junior version is available. The cast is 12 and an ensemble.

Top Musicals For High School, Final Thoughts

So there you have it, the best musicals for high school students. Whether you’re looking for something lighthearted and humorous or a play based on a historical event, these options will blow away your audience.

With this list, you should be able to find the perfect fit for your drama group and start prepping for opening night!

P.S. Remember though, none of what you've learned will matter if you don't know how to get your music out there and earn from it. Want to learn how to do that? Then get our free ‘5 Steps To Profitable Youtube Music Career' ebook emailed directly to you!

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