With so many fantastic plays available, it can be challenging to determine which one is the best fit for your students. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of the 40 best theater plays for high school students.
These plays are guaranteed to captivate and delight your students from start to finish. So, let’s dive in and find the perfect play for your classroom!
- 1. Peter and the Starcatcher
- 2. Puffs, Or: Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic and Magic
- 3. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
- 4. Our Town
- 5. The Crucible
- 6. Alice in Wonderland
- 7. Noises Off
- 8. Romeo and Juliet
- 9. Pygmalion
- 10. Clue
- 11. Almost, Maine
- 12. Radium Girls
- 13. Run for Your Wife
- 14. The Man Who Came to Dinner
- 15. And Then There Were None
- 16. The Women of Lockerbie
- 17. Twelve Angry Jurors
- 18. A Midsummer Night’s Dream
- 19. The Wolves
- 20. Sense and Sensibility
- 21. Macbeth
- 22. A Christmas Carol
- 23. She Kills Monsters
- 24. The Brothers Grimm Spectaculathon
- 25. The Laramie Project
- 26. Check Please
- 27. Twelfth Night
- 28. Middletown
- 29. The Importance of Being Earnest
- 30. Night of January 16th
- 31. Addams Family
- 32. Annie
- 33. Sherlock Holmes
- 34. One Stoplight Town
- 35. Wizard of Oz
- 36. The Odd Couple
- 37. Matilda
- 38. Mamma Mia!
- 39. You Can’t Take It With You
- 40. Lion King
- Final Thoughts
1. Peter and the Starcatcher
First on the list is “Peter and the Starcatcher”. This play is perfect for high school students who are looking for a fast-paced, action-packed adventure.
The play follows the story of Peter Pan before he ever went to Neverland. Students will love the costume and set design in this play, as well as the characters they’ve known since childhood.
2. Puffs, Or: Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic and Magic
Next on the list is “Puffs, Or: Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic and Magic”. This play is a more light-hearted take on the wizarding world. The characters will be dressed as their favorite Harry Potter characters, and the set will be designed to look like Hogwarts.
3. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
“The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” is a play that will challenge your students to think outside the box. The main character, Christopher, is autistic, and his view of the world is very different from everyone else’s.
Make sure to choose the student who can pull off heavy drama and comedy for this role, as it is one of the most demanding high school plays.
4. Our Town
“Our Town” is a classic American play that takes place in the early 1900s. The play follows the lives of the residents of Grover’s Corners, New Hampshire.
This play will show students and guests what life was like in a small town back then. Students in the play will dress up in old-fashioned clothes like their grandparents used to wear.
5. The Crucible
Another classic play, “The Crucible” is set during the Salem witch trials and follows the story of John Proctor, a man who is accused of being a witch. It has quite a few roles, so a lot of students can participate. The dialogues between the characters are very intense, so choose students who can handle that kind of pressure.
6. Alice in Wonderland
This play will relive the classic story of “Alice in Wonderland”. Students will love getting to wear the iconic costumes and play memorable characters like the Queen of Hearts and Alice herself. You can make the set design for this high school theater as simple or as complex as you like.
7. Noises Off
“Noises Off” follows the backstage drama of a theater troupe as they try to put on a production of “Nothing On”. This play is perfect for high school students because it’s full of comedy and chaos. The set design for this play should be fairly simple, as most of the action takes place backstage.
8. Romeo and Juliet
As a Shakespeare play, everyone knows the story of Romeo and Juliet, but seeing it acted out on stage is a completely different and exciting experience.
High school students will have a great time playing Romeo, Juliet, and other characters. The costumes can be old-fashioned or modern, depending on your preference.
“Pygmalion” is a play about the Greek mythological character Pygmalion. This play will teach your students about Greek mythology and how strong love can be.
The dialogue in this play is very witty, so choose students who are quick on their feet. The costumes for this play should be inspired by Ancient Greece.
“Clue: The Musical” is a musical adaptation of the popular board game about solving a crime. High school students who love to sing and dance will love doing this play. The costumes and set design can be as simple or as extravagant as you want them to be.
11. Almost, Maine
“Almost, Maine” is a play made up of nine short scenes, each taking place at the same time in the fictional town of Almost, Maine. This play is a mixture of comedy and drama, which makes it doable for high school students. The set design can be very simple, as the focus is on the characters and their interactions with each other.
12. Radium Girls
This play is based on a true story about the girls who worked in the radium factories in the early 1900s. This play will teach your students about history and the importance of fighting for what’s right.
The costumes for this play should be inspired by the clothing of that period, which was mostly trench coats and long skirts.
13. Run for Your Wife
“Run for Your Wife” is a hilarious farce that follows a man hilariously attempting to juggle two unsuspecting wives. Amidst the uproarious laughter and delightful chaos, the set design is easy to handle. What is important are the props, which should be plentiful.
14. The Man Who Came to Dinner
Another comedy, “The Man Who Came to Dinner”, is about a man who overstays in a small town. This play will have your audience laughing from beginning to end. High school students will have a blast playing the various roles in this play.
15. And Then There Were None
“And Then There Were None” is a murder mystery play based on the book by Agatha Christie. It’s a rather long play, but it’s full of suspense and excitement. The costumes for this play should be period-accurate, as it is set in the 1930s.
16. The Women of Lockerbie
Next on the list is “The Women of Lockerbie”. It is a play about the aftermath of the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing. It is a heartbreaking play, and the lead roles should be played by emotionally mature high school students.
17. Twelve Angry Jurors
“Twelve Angry Jurors” is a play about, you guessed it, twelve jurors who are tasked with deliberating the fate of a man on trial for murder. This play requires characters who can think critically and argue their points convincingly. The set design for this play is very simple, as most of the action takes place in one room.
18. A Midsummer Night’s Dream
High school students will love performing in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”. It is a classic play with a lot of comedy and romance. You can choose how simple or complex the set design is. Just be sure to include plenty of greenery for that magical forest vibe.
19. The Wolves
“The Wolves” is a play about a girls’ soccer team. It focuses on the relationships between the teammates and how they deal with success and failure.
This play requires a lot of energy and enthusiasm from the cast. Most characters will be wearing soccer varsity sets that can easily be purchased online.
20. Sense and Sensibility
This play is based on the book by Jane Austen. The costumes for this play should be inspired by the 1800s period, which means lots of petticoats and bonnets for the ladies. High school students will enjoy dressing up for this play.
This is one of Shakespeare’s most popular plays, and a lot of high-school students have enjoyed performing it. The play is full of action, suspense, and tragedy.
Macbeth is a complex character, and the lead role should be played by a student who can understand his motivations. The costumes and set for the play should be inspired by medieval times.
22. A Christmas Carol
“A Christmas Carol” is a classic holiday play that tells the story of Ebenezer Scrooge and his transformation from a grouchy old man to a kind-hearted one. This play has a long list of characters, including ghosts, so it’s perfect for the whole class to participate in.
23. She Kills Monsters
“She Kills Monsters” is a play about a woman who discovers her late sister’s Dungeons and Dragons notebook. She then embarks on an adventure to defeat the monsters in her sister’s game. This play is full of action and requires some special effects for the monsters.
24. The Brothers Grimm Spectaculathon
The next play on the list is “The Brothers Grimm Spectaculathon”. It’s a mix of the famous fairy tales by the Brothers Grimm.
This play is perfect for high school students because it’s full of comedy and many small roles can be played by multiple students. There are ready-made costumes for the famous characters that they can order online.
25. The Laramie Project
“The Laramie Project” is a play about the aftermath of the murder of Matthew Shepard. It is based on interviews with real people who knew him.
This play is for older high school students who are emotionally ready, as it talks about serious subjects like gender, homophobia, and hate crimes. It could really open the eyes of both the actors and the audience.
26. Check Please
“Check Please” is about two people who go on a blind date. It’s a light-hearted play that will make the audience laugh.
The set design can be very simple, as most of the action takes place in one restaurant. High school students can easily pull this off with the help of some props and costumes.
27. Twelfth Night
Next, we have “Twelfth Night”. This is another one of Shakespeare’s popular plays. It’s a romantic comedy about mistaken identity and love.
The play has many iconic characters, such as Viola, Olivia, and Sir Toby Belch. High school students will enjoy dressing up in the costumes for this play, as it is set in the Elizabethan era.
“Middletown” is about the everyday lives of the people who live in the small town of Middletown. It’s a slice-of-life play that will give audiences a glimpse into the mundane lives of its characters. The set design can be very simple, and the costumes can be found in the students’ closets.
29. The Importance of Being Earnest
“The Importance of Being Earnest” is about two men who pretend to be someone they’re not to win the affection of the women they love. This play is funny and clever, perfect for high school students to perform. The outfits should match the Victorian-era style.
30. Night of January 16th
Last but not least, we have “Night of January 16th”. This is a courtroom drama about the trial of a man accused of murdering his wife. The play has a twist ending that will surprise the audience. The set can be very simple, as most of the action takes place in one room.
31. Addams Family
This comedy play is about a spooky family dealing with a common worry: their daughter Wednesday is in love with a respectable young man, and the two families meet for the first time. The Addams Family has a macabre charm with its dark and eerie atmosphere that captivates guests.
Each character is special, which is perfect for students wanting to try acting. The singing and dancing parts are fun and simple. The stage can look like Halloween or just be dark and moody.
As one of Broadway’s finest plays, “Annie” is a joyful musical story about a young girl named Annie who lives in an orphanage.
You can get costumes from your closet or buy them from thrift stores. The stage setup can be easy or fancy, depending on what you like. The story is great for kids, and it’s a top choice for high school plays.
33. Sherlock Holmes
“Sherlock Holmes” is a whodunit play that is great for male leads. The play’s mysteries and suspenseful elements is great to capture the students’ attention while providing an introduction to classic detective literature.
The set should be old-fashioned with Holmes’ home and London spots. The cast members should embody the character’s keen observation skills, analytical thinking, and confidence. The play falls under Concord Theatricals, legally using Arthur Conan Doyle’s character and stories.
34. One Stoplight Town
“One Stoplight Town” is a play about people in a tiny town with just one traffic light. It shows how they talk, relate, and deal with problems. The play looks at how they come together, connect, and handle changes. It’s all about the community and how life changes in a small place. Actors get their costumes from their closets, and the whole play happens in just one place.
35. Wizard of Oz
If you’re looking for a fun play with lots of actors, “Wizard of Oz” is a great choice. It’s about a girl named Dorothy and her dog Toto, who end up in the magical land of Oz. To make the play exciting, you’ll need costumes, props, and a creative team to set up the stage.
36. The Odd Couple
“The Odd Couple” is a comedic play that revolves around two mismatched roommates, Felix and Oscar. The story follows their humorous interactions and conflicts as they navigate living together after their respective marriages end.
Since the play talks about divorce and relationships, it’s better for emotionally mature high school students to take on the lead roles.
“Matilda” is a musical play based on Roald Dahl’s novel. It’s about a clever young girl named Matilda who faces challenges at home and school. Targeted for a mixed audience, this is a fun play that high school students will enjoy. You can make the stage simple or fancy since there are different places in the story.
38. Mamma Mia!
If you’re looking for a female-led play, “Mamma Mia” is a great choice. The play is about a girl named Sophie who wants her dad to walk her down the aisle at her wedding. The tricky part is that she doesn’t know who her dad is.
The play contains fun and iconic ABBA songs that you want to sing along to, and the costumes are casual summer wear and outfits from the 1970s. You might need a license to use the songs and script.
39. You Can’t Take It With You
“You Can’t Take It With You” is a funny play about a strange family, the Sycamores. They meet their serious potential relatives. The play talks about being yourself, doing what you love, and how society’s rules can clash with personal happiness.
The play’s script is funny and smart. Students who can think fast would do great in the main parts. The set is simple to make, and the play works well with a lot of actors.
40. Lion King
Finally, there’s the famous “Lion King.” Lots of students know the story from the animated movie, so it’s a fun play they can relate to.
There are many characters, so students can play different parts. The set and costumes might require creative people and a bigger budget, but it’s a fantastic choice for a child-friendly and enjoyable play for your students.
And that’s the end of the list! Whether you like comedic plays or serious drama, these plays are great for your high school theatre. These plays vary in genre, length, and difficulty, so there’s something for everyone. With your whole class involved, you’ll surely have an awesome performance! Thanks for reading!