The 50 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’ve curated a list of 50 musicals, both timeless and novel, that are the perfect fit for high school performances.

In the world of high school theater, musicals stand out as the showpieces that foster camaraderie, creativity, and confidence among budding performers. Beyond entertainment, they provide an invaluable platform for students to express themselves, build lifelong friendships, and cultivate a love for the arts that can last a lifetime.

1. “Annie”

Set in the backdrop of the 1930s Depression era, we’ve got Annie, an orphan looking for her place in the world and finding solace with a well-off millionaire. When choosing the costumes, channel the 1930s – envision flowy dresses and dapper suits, but always remember Annie’s iconic red getup.

2. Mamma Mia!

“Mamma Mia!” is one of the most popular broadway musicals that can be enjoyed by people of all ages and is perfect for high school performers. With roles versatile enough for both boys and girls, it presents an opportunity for a dynamic cast of young actors. As for the costumes, the 70s vibe is real with flare pants and ruffled tops. The straightforward set design keeps the attention firmly on the performance.

3. Working

“Working” is a narrative about the diverse world of professions. Offering five central roles and a myriad of supporting ones, it’s a chance for broad student participation. The costumes lean towards the simplistic, think uniforms from various jobs which you might just find in a thrift store or maybe even in your parents’ closets. Additionally, the musical invites conversation on themes like classism and racism.

4. Bye Bye Birdie

“Bye Bye Birdie” is a nostalgic trip to the 1950s. Centered around a rockstar’s army draft, it blends humor and sentiment. Costuming captures the era with 50s-style poodle skirts and leather jackets, making it a delightful visual treat.

5. Hairspray

Set in 1960s Baltimore, “Hairspray” is not just a popular musical but also delves into poignant social discussions. The wardrobe choices are reflective of the era, with ladies donning 60s-style balloon dresses and gents in crisp suits. The extensive list of ensemble cast allows a larger group of students to get involved.

6. Fame the Musical

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.

7. Ruthless!

Enter the world of young Tina Denmark in “Ruthless!”, where she’s all about snatching that leading role in her school play. With its all-female cast, it’s a production cherished by high schools worldwide. On the costume front, think puff dresses. And, oh! Tina’s got to rock that blonde curly wig to truly shine.

8. Little Women

Drawing inspiration from Louisa May Alcott’s classic, “Little Women” is a musical that screams empowerment, chronicling the journey of four sisters amidst the Civil War. A trip back to the 1860s requires corset dresses and bonnets. A heads up: get those powerful vocalists on board for the principal roles.

9. Carrie: The Musical

A Stephen King novel turned musical shouldn’t be a miss on this list. Dive into the eerie world of “Carrie,” a story of a telekinetic teenager confronting school bullies. It’s thrilling but not for the faint of heart. Props like fake blood are a must. The ambience? Think typical high school with a prom twist.

10. Beauty and the Beast

Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” remains a timeless favorite. With its roots in the iconic animation, it’s filled with memorable melodies. Ideal for high schools given its expansive cast. Costume-wise, brace yourself for some craftsmanship, especially with Belle’s transformation from village charm to elegant royalty.

11. Into the Woods

“Into the Woods” is an intricate tapestry of fairy tales, from Cinderella to Jack and his famed beanstalk. It’s a challenging musical to choose, meshing various tales, which means props and preparations need to be on point. Pulling this off will be a core memory for the cast and the viewers alike!

12. The Wizard of Oz

“The Wizard of Oz” is an enduring tale that high schoolers will appreciate bringing to life. With classics like “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”, the musical offers nostalgia. Costume-wise, details matter. With characters ranging from the Tinman to the Scarecrow, there’s ample opportunity for diverse roles.

13. Mary Poppins

Yet another Disney gem, “Mary Poppins” is a tale of a magical nanny and her adventures. Set in a British backdrop, costumes lean towards puffy dresses and characteristic hats. And who wouldn’t want to try singing “Supercalifragilistic”?

14. Matilda

Based on Roald Dahl’s book, “Matilda” revolves around a gifted girl navigating her challenging life. Costumes for this play are straightforward, easily sourced from local shops. One of the best high school musicals, it’s a story of resilience and wit.

15. Cinderella

Cinderella, the timeless tale of rags to royalty, is always a hit. With roles from Prince Charming to comedic step-sisters, it’s suitable for larger casts. While costumes, particularly gowns, are detailed, renting is an option. Plus, the familiar dialogues and tunes make it a treat.

16. Seussical

Drawing from Dr. Seuss’s works, “Seussical” follows Horton the elephant’s intriguing adventures. Costumes are the highlight, bursting with color and whimsy. Why not get the art class involved? As for the dialogues, they’re simple, fitting well for younger and older high schoolers alike.

17. Shrek the Musical

Drawn from the beloved animated film, “Shrek the Musical” is as vibrant on stage as on screen. The character makeup here will test students’ artistic talents, and while dialogues suit the high school age, some of the songs might need a closer look.

18. The Little Mermaid

A splash of underwater magic, “The Little Mermaid” centers on Ariel’s quest for humanity. Thanks to the internet, ready-to-wear costumes like mermaid tails and Ursula’s getup are easily available. And, with Alan Menken and Howard Ashman’s melodies, this musical’s bound to enchant.

19. The Addams Family

Spooky, quirky, and all kinds of fun, “The Addams Family” spins a tale about Wednesday Addams’ unique love life. With Andrew Lippa’s distinct tunes, it’s no wonder this musical stands out. As for the costumes, they’re rich in gothic charm, and makeup plays a pivotal role, adding to the pre-show excitement.

20. Peter Pan

As you journey with the boy who shunned adulthood, consider upping the game with interactive set pieces, like a “flying” Peter or maybe even an animatronic crocodile. Costumes? Classic with a hint of DIY. Think green tunics, fairy wings, and pirate hats.

21. Little Shop of Horrors

A musical with a dark twist, “Little Shop of Horrors” has Seymour grappling with a blood-thirsty plant. Reflecting the 60s, the costumes can be thrift store finds. The true challenge? Students capturing the essence of suspense and eeriness through their acting.

22. Emma: A Pop Musical

Drawing inspiration from Jane Austen’s timeless tale, “Emma: A Pop Musical” fuses classic storytelling with modern melodies. As for costumes, well, it’s a blend of Austen-era charm with a contemporary touch.

23. The Sound of Music

The Sound of Music” never grows old. Drawing from the real-life story of the Von Trapp family, this one is a bundle of old-world charm. Expect a lot of sailor dresses and other vintage threads. And word of advice? Your choir game needs to be on point; those ballads won’t sing themselves.

24. Bring It On

Cheers and jeers come to life in “Bring It On: The Musical”. If you’ve ever daydreamed about cheerleading showdowns, this is your jam. But heads up: it demands a good bit of pep and some killer dance moves. Looking for outfits? The internet’s got your back with those.

25. The SpongeBob Musical

Bikini Bottom faces some wild times, and guess who’s there to save the day? Yup, SpongeBob Squarepants and his gang! Dive deep into comedy and creativity with costumes. Vibrant, under-the-sea vibes are key. Consider playing around with textures, and maybe add some funky, oceanic makeup to the mix.

26. West Side Story

Think Romeo and Juliet, but with a rhythmic swing. Set amidst the bustling 1950s NYC, it’s all about the Sharks vs. the Jets showdown. With a myriad of roles, it’s a good bet that everyone in the class can hop in.

27. Catch Me If You Can

Inspired by the intriguing tales of con-artist Frank Abagnale Jr., this musical is an exciting chase wrapped in 1960s glamour. Anticipate a variety of parts with a hint of retro – think pilot swag and chic stewardess vibes.

28. High School Musical

Let’s face it, “High School Musical” is basically a rite of passage. Birthed from the iconic Disney flick, it’s a whirlwind of high school nostalgia. Bonus? The tunes are catchy, and the wardrobe won’t have you breaking the bank.

29. Les Misérables

Imagine the drama crew taking on 19th-century France, navigating a heartfelt story of redemption. Pro tip for our aspiring actors: Embrace those period costumes. Flowing skirts, worn-out vests, and distressed hats will help them get into character. Hey, and a makeshift barricade for the stage might be cool, too.

30. Anything Goes

A chaotic cruise with comedy at its heart, and the drama club’s in for a treat. With the ensemble transforming into 1930s ship-goers, they’ll be donning elegant gowns and smart tuxedos. And let’s not forget those sailor vibes for the crew members.

31. Once Upon a Mattress

Ever heard of “The Princess and the Pea?” This musical is a fun twist on it, revolving around Princess Winnifred and her quest for love. Packed with comedic bits, it guarantees laughs. And those costumes? Crafty types can whip ’em up with a visit to their local craft joint.

32. Grease

A nod to the OG movie, “Grease” will have you reminiscing about 1950s high school romance. With classic jams like “Summer Nights,” it’s a crowd-pleaser. Wardrobe-wise? Think poodle skirts and those iconic leather jackets.

33. Oklahoma!

Loosely based on Lynn Riggs’ play, “Oklahoma!” offers a wholesome countryside vibe. The wardrobe is a throwback, featuring prairie dresses. Vocal chops are key here, given the rich musical scenes.

34. Guys and Dolls

A 1950 Broadway gem, “Guys and Dolls” paints a picture of 1920s love and life. From flapper dresses to slick coats, the attire is all about old-school glam. And hey, brush up on those tap dancing skills – there’s plenty of footwork.

35. You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown 

Brought to life from the iconic “Peanuts” comic strip, this musical centers around Charlie Brown’s adventures. It’s a light-hearted affair, sprinkled with comedic moments. Costume-wise, it’s a breeze – just pull out some basic colorful tees.

36. Godspell

This one is the Gospel of Matthew but make it modern. It’s a spiritual blend of song and dance with a twist. Wardrobe-wise, mix in some everyday wear with subtle biblical vibes. Colors and layering will be your friends here, and if you’re feeling it, splash in some face paint.

37. My Fair Lady

High society meets street smart in this classic. A professor tries to turn a flower girl into a refined lady, and the style shift is everything. Start with simple florist outfits and slowly transition into sophisticated gowns and posh suits. And don’t forget those diction lessons!

38. Fiddler on the Roof

This one takes us through the heartfelt journey of a Jewish dad in Tsarist Russia, trying to get with the times and understand his daughters. For attire, focus on early 20th-century Eastern European vibes. We’re talking shawls, vests, and traditional Jewish shtetl outfits.

39. Pippin

Let your students embark on a journey with a young prince trying to figure out his life. This is a chance to play around with medieval yet whimsical outfits. Think tunics, capes, and maybe even some glow-in-the-dark props for that extra magical touch.

40. The Music Man

This musical’s about a slick con man with dreams bigger than his truths, aiming to scam a town with illusions of a boys’ band. Get that Vintage Americana style on point for this one – waistcoats, straw hats, and modest dresses should do the trick. Instruments? Well, that’s optional.

41. Footloose

Now, here’s a trip. A town where dancing is banned? Perfect for the seniors to rebel against! Channeling the ’80s is key. Students can raid their parents’ old wardrobes or hit up thrift stores. Think high-tops, vibrant colors, and yes, big hair.

42. Newsies

Go all in on this one! “Newsies” takes you back to 1899 New York City during the Newsboy Strike. Vintage streetwear is the vibe. Think caps, vests, and suspenders. And maybe, just maybe, a newspaper or two to fling around during those dance numbers.

43. Singin’ in the Rain

Set during the switch from silent films to the glitzy talkies, this musical is all about the drama – both on and off the screen. Costuming tip: embrace those retro styles. We’re talking sequins, flapper dresses, and maybe a flashy umbrella for that iconic rain scene.

44. The Drowsy Chaperone

Ever wanted to poke fun at those old 1920s musicals? Now’s your chance. This parody is cheeky, and the more over-the-top the outfits, the better. Think glitzy headbands, faux pearls, and yes, maybe a feather boa or two.

45. Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

Time for a splash of color! As the cast tells Joseph’s tale, that iconic coat should be a group project – maybe every member can add a patch? For the rest? Keep it simple with earthy tones to let that coat steal the show.

46. Chicago

So, the jazz band might be getting jealous with this one. As our high schoolers dance and sing their way through the sparkling chaos of 1920s Chicago, their wardrobe’s gonna shine. For those playing the leads? Sequined dresses, dapper suits, and fedoras are the way to go.

47. Honk!

For a different vibe, dive into this reimagined “The Ugly Duckling” tale. Cute, quirky, and full of heart, this is your chance to play with animal-inspired costumes. But keep it low-key – subtle beaks, feathered caps, and webbed shoes will do the trick without going overboard.

48. The Fantasticks

A tale as old as time but still a hit! It’s a straightforward romantic comedy with just enough twist to keep the audience intrigued. Since it’s been around the block, you might want to spruce it up with some fresh, quirky costume choices. Vintage with a twist, anyone?

49. Thoroughly Modern Millie

Dive into the 1920s with Millie, a small-town gal navigating the maze of a bustling city. Flapper dresses and snazzy suits? Absolute must-haves! Maybe even sneak in a feathered headband or two. Remember, the jazzier, the better.

50. Rent: School Edition

This musical revolves around the lives of several New Yorkers dealing with love, dreams, and reality checks. Urban, edgy styles work here. Think ripped jeans, combat boots, and lots of layered outfits. Maybe even mix in some thrift store finds to give it that authentic city vibe.

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!