The 30 Best Musicals for High School – The Ultimate Guide

Are you a high school student looking for the best musicals to perform in your upcoming show? In this blog post, we will discuss 30 of the most popular and well-loved high school musicals.

We’ll provide a brief discussion of each show and give you a few reasons why it made our list. So, without further ado, let’s get started!

1. Mamma Mia!

Mamma Mia Saturday Cast - US Musical at King SchoolMamma Mia Saturday Cast – US Musical at King School

This classic musical can be enjoyed by people of all ages and is perfect for high school performers. It has a wide range of roles that can be played by both male and female students.

Costumes are set in the 1970s, mainly flare pants and ruffled tops. The set is minimalistic, allowing the focus to be on the actors and actresses.

2. Working

Trailer: WorkingTrailer: Working

Another great musical for high school performers is “Working.” The show has 5 main casts and several supporting roles, allowing many students to participate.

The costumes are of the different job uniforms and can easily be found in thrift stores or your parents’ closets. This musical is perfect for those who want to explore social issues and discuss classism, racism, sexism, and ageism through song

3. Bye Bye Birdie

Bye Bye Birdie high school productionBye Bye Birdie high school production

Bye Bye Birdie is a high school musical classic. The show is set in the 1950s and follows the story of a rockstar who is drafted into the army. The costumes are 50s-style poodle skirts and leather jackets.

4. Hairspray

Hairspray - Westhill High SchoolHairspray – Westhill High School

The musical entitled Hairspray is famous for the characters’ iconic hairdo. The show is set in Baltimore, Maryland in the 1960s and tackles social issues.

The costumes are 60s-style balloon dresses and suits. It has a long list of characters so a lot of high school students can participate.

5. Fame the Musical

Fame the Musical, by CAPAFame the Musical, by CAPA

This show is based on the 1980 film of the same name. It follows a group of students attending the High School for Performing Arts in New York City.

The costumes of the cast are just the normal clothes that youngsters wear to school when they’re not in their uniforms. It is best to choose a student that can dance gracefully for the main character, Carmen Diaz.

6. Ruthless!

Ruthless! The Musical | TrailerRuthless! The Musical | Trailer

This is an all-female musical about a girl named Tina Denmark who will do whatever it takes to be the star of her school play. The show has been performed by high school students all over the world. The costumes are puff dresses and the lead character, Tina, must wear a blonde curly wig to pull off the look.

7. Little Women

Little Women - University High School - 2015 - Cast 1 -Act 1Little Women – University High School – 2015 – Cast 1 -Act 1

Little Women is an empowering musical for young women. It is based on the book by Louisa May Alcott and follows the lives of four sisters during the Civil War.

The costumes are 1860s corset dresses and bonnets. Make sure to choose the students who can sing to play the main roles.

8. Carrie: The Musical

Carrie the Musical - Brien McMahonCarrie the Musical – Brien McMahon

This thrilling musical is based on the Stephen King novel, Carrie. The story follows a girl with telekinetic powers who is bullied by her classmates.

The musical includes gory scenes and is not recommended for faint-hearted individuals. This will require props like fake blood and the setting of the play is high school and prom.

9. Beauty and the Beast

RHS "Beauty and the Beast" Spring MusicalRHS “Beauty and the Beast” Spring Musical

Who doesn’t love Disney’s Beauty and the Beast? The musical is based on an animated film and includes classic songs.

It is perfect for a high school production because it has a large cast with many different roles. The costumes are elaborate and will require a lot of time to put together, especially for Belle’s character that shifts from a village girl to a princess.

10. Into the Woods

Into The Woods (John W. North High School) 12-7-2019Into The Woods (John W. North High School) 12-7-2019

Into the Woods is a musical that combines different fairy tales. It includes classic characters like Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk, Red Riding Hood, and more. It is a rather challenging musical that will require lots of preparations from props to production but the result is always worth it.

11. The Wizard of Oz

The Wizard of Oz Play by Pitman High SchoolThe Wizard of Oz Play by Pitman High School

High schoolers will love performing in The Wizard of Oz musical. It is based on a classic film and includes famous songs like “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”

The costumes are very detailed and will require some time to put together. This play consists of a wide variety of characters, from the Tinman to the Scarecrow, making it fit for a high school production.

12. Mary Poppins

Mary Poppins  - Summit High School - 2016Mary Poppins – Summit High School – 2016

Another classic Disney film turned musical, Mary Poppins, is something that high school students will enjoy working on. The story follows the life of a nanny who arrives to take care of the children of a wealthy family.

The costumes are very British which mostly consist of long puffy dresses and fancy hats. This musical has many famous songs like “Supercalifragilistic

13. Matilda

Matilda The MusicalMatilda The Musical

This is a musical based on the book by Roald Dahl. It follows the story of a young girl who is neglected by her parents and decides to take matters into her own hands.

The costumes are very simple and can be found in local shops and thrift stores. This play has been performed by high school students all over the world.

14. Cinderella

Rodger's and Hammerstein's Cinderella   University High School   2017   Cast ARodger’s and Hammerstein’s Cinderella University High School 2017 Cast A

Another Disney classic, Cinderella, is perfect for a high school production. It has a large cast with varying roles from prince charming to step-sisters.

The costumes of each cast are grand and elaborate but you can easily rent gowns. The dialogue is appropriate for high school students and the songs are catchy.

15. Seussical

2020-03-05  Seussical the Musical!  Thursday Night Show2020-03-05 Seussical the Musical! Thursday Night Show

This is a musical based on the works of Dr. Seuss. It follows the story of Horton, an elephant who hears a voice coming from a speck of dust.

The costumes are very colorful and quirky, making them can be a fun activity for your art class. In terms of dialogue,  it is very simple and easy to follow making it perfect for high school students.

16. Shrek the Musical

Shrek the Musical - University High School - 2013 - Cast 1Shrek the Musical – University High School – 2013 – Cast 1

This is a musical based on the popular animated film, Shrek. It will challenge the students’ make-up and artistic skills to pull off the characters’ looks. The dialogue is appropriate for high school students but the songs may require some research.

17. The Little Mermaid

The Little Mermaid - Wallkill Valley Regional High SchoolThe Little Mermaid – Wallkill Valley Regional High School

The Little Mermaid is a musical based on a Disney film. It follows the story of Ariel, a mermaid who dreams of becoming human. There are ready-made costumes you can find online like mermaid tails and Ursula’s tentacles so that the students can focus on practicing their lines.

18. The Addams Family

Mt Olive High School - Addams Family - March 2015Mt Olive High School – Addams Family – March 2015

This is based on the Addams Family franchise. It follows the story of Wednesday Addams who falls in love with a boy from a “normal” family.

The costumes are very gothic yet easy to find. This play requires a lot of make-up for the characters so the students will have lots of fun preparing for their characters.

19. Little Shop of Horrors

Little Shop of Horrors (Full), Unionville High School Musical 2019Little Shop of Horrors (Full), Unionville High School Musical 2019

“Little Shop of Horrors” is a comedy-rock that follows the story of Seymour, a florist who raises a plant that feeds on human blood. The costumes vibe in the 60s and can be easily found in local thrift stores. This play requires students to use their acting skills to create suspense and fear.

20. Emma: A Pop Musical

Emma! A pop musical- How Will I know?Emma! A pop musical- How Will I know?

This is a musical based on the classic novel by Jane Austen. Students’ costumes will be 19th-century British or they can just wear their everyday uniform. This play requires students to have good diction and elocution skills.

21. The Sound of Music

CHHS "The Sound of Music" Friday CastCHHS “The Sound of Music” Friday Cast

Another classic musical, “The Sound of Music” is based on the true story of the Von Trapp family. The characters will be wearing old-fashioned clothes like sailor dresses. This play requires students to sing well as most of the songs are ballads.

22. Bring It On

✿~ Bring It On: The Musical // Toms River High School North    ~✿✿~ Bring It On: The Musical // Toms River High School North ~✿

“Bring It On: The Musical” is based on the story of two rival cheerleading teams. High school students will love to be part of this play, especially girls who dream of becoming a cheerleader.

This play requires students to have good energy and be able to dance well. Costumes can be easily bought or rented online.

23. West Side Story

West Side Story- 12-10-20West Side Story- 12-10-20

“West Side Story” is a musical based on the classic Romeo and Juliet story but with a twist. It is set in New York City during the 1950s and follows the story of two rival gangs, the Sharks and the Jets. It has a long list of characters needed so the entire class can participate.

24. Catch Me If You Can

Amity High School "Catch Me If You Can The Musical"  Act 1Amity High School “Catch Me If You Can The Musical” Act 1

“Catch Me If You Can” is a musical based on the true story of con man Frank Abagnale Jr., who was a con artist in the 1960s. The play has a large cast with many small roles that can be played by students. The costumes are mostly 60s clothes like a retro pilot and stewardess costumes.

25. High School Musical

FLHS Presents: High School MusicalFLHS Presents: High School Musical

Every high school student knows about the “High School Musical.” It is a musical based on the popular Disney Channel movie.

The play has many well-known songs that the students will love to sing live. The characters’ outfits are just the typical teenage clothes that they can easily find in their closets.

26. Once Upon a Mattress

Once Upon a Mattress HHS 2020Once Upon a Mattress HHS 2020

This is a musical based on the story of “The Princess and the Pea.” It follows the story of Princess Winnifred who is looking for a husband. The play has many comedy scenes that will keep the viewers entertained. The costumes are very colorful and can be easily made with materials from a local craft store.

27. Grease

Hubbard High School Presents “Grease”May 2019Hubbard High School Presents “Grease”May 2019

“Grease” is a musical based on a classic movie of the same name. It is set in the 1950s and the story is about Danny and Sandy, two high school students who fall in love.

The play has many well-known songs like “Summer Nights” and “You’re the One That I Want.” The costumes are mostly 50s clothes like poodle skirts and leather jackets.

28. Oklahoma!

Oklahoma! - Montgomery High School - 2018-02-23Oklahoma! – Montgomery High School – 2018-02-23

“Oklahoma!” is a musical based on the play by Lynn Riggs. The students should wear old-fashioned clothes like prairie dresses to give off that countryside life. This play requires students to have good singing voices as there are a lot of musical productions within the play.

29. Guys and Dolls

Guys and Dolls - University High School - Cast AGuys and Dolls – University High School – Cast A

This 1950 Broadway production is still one of the most popular musicals. It is set in the 1920s and tells the story of a rich man falling in love with a mission worker.

The costumes are mostly 1920s clothes like flapper dresses, colorful coats, and hats. This play requires students to be able to tap dance as there is a lot of dancing involved.

30. You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown 

You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown - University High School - Pink CastYou’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown – University High School – Pink Cast

“You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown” is a musical based on the popular cartoon strip “Peanuts.” It follows the story of Charlie Brown and his friends.

The play has many comedy scenes that will keep the viewers entertained throughout the show. The costumes are just basic clothes like colorful t-shirts and polka dot dresses.

Final Thoughts

These are just some of the best musicals for high school students. Whatever play you choose, make sure that it is appropriate for your high school students and that they will be able to understand the story and the lyrics. Also, take into consideration the time and effort required to put on the production. Thanks for reading!