23 Best Small Cast Musicals

Best Small Cast Musicals

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.

Best stories in theater

Altar Boyz

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.

Calvin Berger

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.

Curvy Widow

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.

Innovative musicals

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.

First Date

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.

Gunmetal Blues

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.

Musicals with minimal performers

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.

Melancholy Play: A Chamber Musical

Centered on Tilly and her melancholy of distinct quality, Melancholy Play: A Chamber Musical tells the story of how every stranger she meets falls in love with her. Her melancholy inexplicably turns to happiness, however, and suddenly her lovers are tossed into chaos.

Even more upsetting, Tilly’s hairdresser Frances becomes so melancholy that she turns into an almond. It’s up to Tilly to figure out how to turn Frances back.

Plays with few actors

Murder for Two

Featuring a book and the music of Joe Kinosian and a book and lyrics of Kellen Blair, Murder for Two is a two-actor whodunit in which both actors sing and play the piano located onstage.

It is designed such that one actor plays all the suspects and ancillary characters while the other plays the policeman investigating the murder. It keeps both actors very busy.

The musical originally premiered in 2011 in Chicago, and from 2013 to 2014, it would go on to run Off-Broadway in New York.

Jerry’s Girls

Jerry’s Girls had humble beginnings as a presentation at a Manhattan nightclub. The revue featured four actresses along with composer and lyricist Jerry Herman.

Following the success of Herman’s La Cage Aux Folles, an all-star, full-scale version of Jerry’s Girls was mounted and launched in February 1984 in Palm Beach, Florida, at the Royal Poinciana Playhouse.

The show toured, and it was a success. The revue would go on to premiere on Broadway in December 1985 at the St. James Theatre in New York City. It ran for 14 previews and 141 performances.

Jerry’s Girls puts the brilliant songwriting of Jerry Herman front and center while honoring more than 40 female stars who’ve appeared in his musicals.

Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill

This jukebox musical, written by Lanie Robertson, explores some of jazz and swing music singer Billie Holiday’s pivotal life moments. It also features several Holiday classics, like “God Bless the Child,” “Somebody’s on My Mind,” and “Don’t Explain.”

The musical premiered in Atlanta, Georgia, at the Alliance Theatre, in April 1986. An Off-Broadway run would begin shortly after in June 1986 and closed after 281 performances.

The musical is set in South Philadelphia, in March 1959. It narrows in on Holiday, who is giving one of her final performances in a dingy bar. She sings and shares stories from her life while becoming more intoxicated and by the end, increasingly incoherent.

Now. Here. This.

From the team of [title of show] comes Now. Here. This., a four-person musical exploring life’s difficult questions, such as friendship, outer space, reptiles, and death.

The show debuted Off-Broadway in March 2012 at the Vineyard Theatre in New York City. The show had a short run, closing in April 2012.

Set in a natural history museum, Now. Here. This. follows the journey of four friends who travel from the present, to the past, and back to the present. The museum exhibits prompt them to share stories from their own lives along the way.

Small theatrical performances


Featuring the music, lyrics, and book of writer, composer, and lyricist Dan Goggin, Nunsense is a comedy musical originally based on a line of greeting cards.

The concept was further developed by Goggin, who created a cabaret show that ultimately turned into a full-length musical.

The Off-Broadway production would open in December 1985 and would run for 3,672 performances. This made it the second longest-running Off-Broadway production ever.

Nunsense was also adapted for TV, and it even inspired three spin-offs and six sequels.

The hilarious story follows five nuns who are doing their best to manage a fundraiser because the rest of the sisterhood died of botulism. The remaining nuns must raise the funds necessary to bury the deceased.

Ordinary Days

Sung-through musical, Ordinary Days follows four characters – Claire, Jason, Warren, and Deb, who discover how their ordinary lives connect in extraordinary ways. The musical is set in New York City.

Ordinary Days features the music and lyrics of composer and lyricist Adam Gwon. The show opened Off-West End in 2008 and Off-Broadway in 2009. It continues to play across the world.

Pete ‘n’ Keely

Featuring the music of Patrick Brady, the lyrics of Mark Waldrop and Patrick S. Brady (among others), and a book by James Hindman, small scale musical Pete ‘n’ Keely premiered Off-Broadway in December 2000 at the John Houseman Theatre.

The story narrows in on a divorced signing duo who reunite on a TV special, reprise their best songs, and go off script to bicker with each other, much to the amusement of viewing audiences.

Pump Boys and Dinettes

Written by a performance group of the same name, Pump Boys and Dinettes premiered on Broadway in February 1982. Originally a two-man show, the musical grew from humble beginnings.

The story follows two women and four men who work at a gas station / dinette located somewhere between Smyrna and Frog Level, California.


With music by Keith Herrmann and lyrics and a book by Barry Harman, Romance/Romance is a two-act musical. The two acts, however, are only linked by one song (performed in each act) and the common theme of love.

The first act, The Little Comedy, is based on an Arthur Schnitzler short story that explores the relationship between a couple, with a twist – both parties have adopted personalities separate from their own.

The second act, Summer Share, is based on the 1898 play Le pain de ménage by French author Jules Renard. Two married thirtysomething couples spend time in a rented cottage, as innocuous flirtation quickly turns into the possibility of an affair.

The Ballad of Little Jo

Based on a film of the same name, The Ballad of Little Jo follows the true story of Josephine Monaghan. Josephine disguised herself as a man named “Jo,” living in a tough Idaho mining town for almost 20 years.

With the music of Grammy-winning songwriter Mike Reid, the folk-ballad-infused music of The Ballad of Little Jo brings the story to life.

The musical also features the lyrics of Sarah Schlesinger, along with a book by Sarah Schlesinger, Mike Reid, and John Dias.

Top Small Cast Musicals, Final Thoughts

Did you find what you were looking for? Which production do you wish you caught? What musical do you plan to see next?

Musicals for small casts are nothing if not innovative, often relying on the strengths of the performers, auditory cues, and props for storytelling. That’s what makes them worth seeing! So, be sure to support your favorite musicals.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *