According to the annual high school play survey conducted by EdTA, The Addams Family; Almost, Maine; and Check Please received top billing for the most produced musical, full-length play, and short play, respectively, during the 2018-19 school year.
Conducted every year since 1938, EdTA’s annual survey of the plays and musicals most frequently produced in America’s high schools provides a showcase and a snapshot of what resonates with teens, their teachers, families, and communities.
Gregory Bossler, EdTA’s director of publications said, “Over time, this survey reveals both enduring patterns and new developments. Patterns for frequently produced shows include those with large casts and youthful perspectives, and a newer development is having more shows with familiar, fantasy storylines. The availability of licensing is a major factor in what gets produced as well.”
After being ranked second last year, The Addams Family reclaimed its number one slot for most-produced musical, followed by Mamma Mia!, making its first appearance in the survey as the rights to it became available this year. Newsies, the rights for which became available in spring 2018 made its top 10 debut at number six.
Almost, Maine boasts its fifth straight year as the most-produced full-length play, followed by A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which has placed in the top 10 for 30 years. While Our Town remains a perennial favorite since the dawn of this survey, this year’s notable top 10 newcomers include She Kills Monsters and Clue, also newly available for licensing.
Finally, playwright Don Zolidis and Jonathan Rand dominated the top 10 short plays. While Rand’s Check Please consistently tops the list, his Law & Order: Fairy Tale Unit made an appearance at number eight, and three works by Zolidis earned top spots, including second (10 Ways to Survive the Zombie Apocalypse), third (The Brothers Grimm Spectaculathon), and fifth (The Audition).
Communities partake of high school theatre on a regular basis. Last year, EdTA expanded its exclusive play survey, now in its 81st consecutive year, to include not only data on which plays were produced in America’s high schools but also on how many people came to see them. This year, more than 3,000 schools responded to the survey and reported presenting an average of 10 performances each last year, with a total average audience of 1,800. Extrapolating these averages to all schools with a theatre program yields a potential audience of 48.1 million for high school theatre across America.
Since 2015, National Public Radio has kept an interactive database incorporating all the EdTA Play Survey results which can be found at npr.org.
While this is the 81st year of the Play Survey, 2019 marks the 90th anniversary of the International Thespian Society (ITS), the honor organization for middle and high school drama students, which has recognized 2.4 million students since its founding in 1929.
- The Addams Family (Andrew Lippa, Marshall Brickman, Rick Elice), TRW
- Mamma Mia! (Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson, Catherine Johnson), MTI
- The Little Mermaid (Alan Menken, Howard Ashman, Glenn Slater, Doug Wright), MTI
- Beauty and the Beast (Alan Menken, Howard Ashman, Tim Rice, Linda Woolverton), MTI
- Mary Poppins (Richard M. Sherman, Robert B. Sherman, Julian Fellowes), MTI
- Newsies (Alan Menken, Jack Feldman, Harvey Fierstein), MTI
- Little Shop of Horrors (Howard Ashman, Alan Menken), MTI
- Seussical (Lynn Ahrens, Stephen Flaherty, Eric Idle), MTI
- Into the Woods (Stephen Sondheim, James Lapine), MTI
10 (tie). Shrek (Jeanine Tesori, David Lindsay-Abaire), MTI
10 (tie). The Wizard of Oz (various)
- Almost, Maine (John Cariani), Dramatists Play Service
- A Midsummer Night’s Dream (William Shakespeare), public domain
- Peter and the Starcatcher (Wayne Barker, Rick Elice), MTI
- Our Town (Thornton Wilder), Samuel French
- Alice in Wonderland (various)
- Clue (Jonathan Lynn, Hunter Foster, Eric Price, Sandy Rustin), Playscripts
- She Kills Monsters (Qui Nguyen), Samuel French
- Radium Girls (D.W. Gregory), Dramatic Publishing
9 (tie). The Crucible (Arthur Miller), Dramatists Play Service
9 (tie). 12 Angry Jurors (Reginald Rose), Dramatic Publishing
- Check Please (Jonathan Rand), Playscripts
- 10 Ways to Survive the Zombie Apocalypse (Don Zolidis), Playscripts
- The Brothers Grimm Spectaculathon (Don Zolidis), Playscripts
- This Is a Test (Stephen Gregg), Dramatic Publishing
- The Audition (Don Zolidis), Playscripts
6 (tie). Bad Auditions by Bad Actors (Ian McWethy), Playscripts
6 (tie). Lockdown (Douglas Craven), Playscripts
- Law & Order: Fairy Tale Unit (Jonathan Rand), Playscripts
- 30 Reasons Not to Be in a Play (Alan Haehnel), Playscripts
- Tracks (Peter Tarsi), Dramatic Publishing