Whether you love musicals, or you’re looking for musicals that can be performed with a small cast, you’ll be glad to know there is a long list of titles to explore. And no matter your persuasion, if you’re a fan of musicals, you should explore the following.
Here we look at the best small-cast musicals.
[title of show]
No, the title is not a mistake (and it’s quite brilliant, I might add). This one-act musical features the music and lyrics of composer, lyricist, and actor Jeff Bowen, with a book by writer and theatrical actor Hunter Bell.
The show is self-referential, to the degree that it documents its own creation as well as its entry into the New York Musical Theatre Festival. The story revolves around the struggles of the author, composer / lyricist, as well as their actress friends leading up to production.
[title of show] premiered in New York City in September 2004. The production ran off-Broadway in 2006, and then on Broadway in 2008, tallying up 102 performances. The musical won a Tony and the writers, stars, and director won Obie Awards.
This musical comedy became a huge hit, becoming the ninth longest-running Off-Broadway musical comedy, with 2,032 performances.
With music and lyrics by composer, lyricist, writer, and musician Michael Patrick Walker and composer / musical director Gary Adler, Altar Boyz is about a fictional Christian boy band. The show is satirical in nature, poking endless fun at boy bands and Christian music more generally.
The story centers on five Ohioans trying to make it in New York City on their Raise the Praise tour. Will the Big Apple’s many temptations get the better of them, or will they stay true to the very values they espouse?
This show sounds like it’s right down my alley, and I have yet to see it.
Loosely based on the 1987 play, Cyrano de Bergerac by French poet and dramatist Edmond Rostand, Calvin Berger is a 2006 musical featuring the music, lyrics, and book of Barry Wyner.
The play centers on insecure high school senior Calvin Berger who has fallen for Rosanna. Alas, Rosanna can’t get over his unfortunate looks, especially his nose, and “friend zones” him.
Meanwhile, Rosanna develops a crush on newcomer Matt, though he is a little too shy to talk to her. Rosanna enlists Calvin as the mediator to set up a date with Matt. Things get very interesting from there…
Children’s Letters to God
Children’s Letters of God was an Off-Broadway musical based on Stoo Hample’s best-selling book, with music by David Evans, and lyrics by composer and lyricist Douglas J. Cohen.
The musical revolves around five children who wrestle with life’s serious issues – divorce, sibling rivalries, first love, loss of a pet, and more. Non-religious in nature, the musical mostly asks open-ended questions about life.
Based on a true story, the 2016 musical comedy, Curvy Widow, features a book by Bobby Goldman along with the music and lyrics of Drew Brody.
The story centers on a fifty-something woman who throws herself into the modern dating world. From disastrous first dates to navigating internet personal ads, the widow laughs in the face of failure, discovering many truths about love, sex, and life along the way.
Double Trouble (A Musical Tour de Farce)
From the creators of Mid-Life! The Crisis Musical comes Double Trouble (A Musical Tour de Farce), a 1940s Hollywood spoof. What makes this musical for small casts so special is that it is performed by two performers who play 10 distinct characters.
Part of the hilarity of the show stems from its complexity, which includes audio cues at precise timings.
The musical features the book, music, and lyrics of Bob and Jim Walton.
Revolving around the concept of a blind date, First Date features the music and lyrics of Alan Zachary and Michael Weiner, as well as a book by Austin Winsberg.
The musical opens with five New Yorkers discussing their most disastrous dating experiences. The scene then homes in on Aaron, a quirky, nervous man, at a restaurant. The waiter guesses that he must be on a first date and seats him.
In walks in Casey who spots Aaron putting in eye drops. She hopes that the date ends as quickly as possible, and promptly downs a few strong drinks before joining Aaron. The story unfolds from there…
With the music and lyrics of Matthew Sweet and a book by Todd Almond, Girlfriend is a pop-rock musical characterized by an all-male cast.
The musical is set in the 90s, in Nebraska. The story centers on Mike, a popular football player, and Will, a social outcast. Having graduated and realized there is more to life than high school, Mike and Will begin asking themselves what’s next.
Featuring the music and lyrics of Craig Bohmler and Marion Adler, Gunmetal Blues premiered in 1991 at the Phoenix Little Theatre in Phoenix, AZ.
Lounge act or hard-boiled detective tale? That’s for you to decide. Watch as the private eye searches for a missing blonde as he journeys through rainy streets, smoky bars, and more blondes.
Gutenberg! The Musical!
Gutenberg! The Musical! was written by Anthony King and Scott Brown and focuses on two clueless composers seeking favor with investors.
Unfortunately, as earnest as they are, the composers’ portrayal of Johannes Gutenberg is inaccurate, because after searching Google and noting that Gutenberg’s life was a bit of mystery, they decided to make it up as they went.
Created as a 45-minute one-act musical, Gutenberg! The Musical! Was developed in New York City between 2005 and 2006, until it opened Off-Broadway in December 2006.
This musical sounds amazing, and I would love to see it.
I’m Getting My Act Together and Taking It on the Road
Featuring a book and the lyrics of playwright, lyricist, and actress Gretchen Cryer and the music of Nancy Ford, I’m Getting My Act Together and Taking It on the Road premiered Off-Broadway in 1978.
The story focuses on Heather, a recent divorcee of 39. Heather wants to make a comeback as a pop star, and she goes on to share her material with her manager. Finding no favor there, she decides to part ways with her manager to take her show on the road.
Love, Linda (The Life of Mrs. Cole Porter)
Love, Linda (The Life of Mrs. Cole Porter) is a one-woman musical following the story of Southern beauty Linda Lee Thomas, who married Cole Porter, the legendary songwriter. Linda was one of the driving forces behind his career.
The musical features the music and lyrics of Cole Porter and a book by Stevie Holland and Gary William Friedman.