SINCE 1938, EdTA has taken the pulse of high school theatre to find out which shows got the most stage time each academic year. Over time, this survey reveals both enduring patterns (large casts, youthful perspectives) and new developments (more familiar fantasy storylines). This year, more than 3,000 high schools responded to the survey. Participants reported more than 26,500 total performances, with an average audience of about 1,800. Extrapolating these averages yields a potential audience of nearly 50 million for high school theatre across America, comparable to the combined audiences for Broadway and regional theatre.

In musicals, The Addams Family reclaimed its number one slot for most-produced musical, followed by Mamma Mia!, the rights to which became available this year. Newsies, another new rights release (spring 2018), made its top 10 debut this year at number six.

Almost, Maine boasts its fifth straight year as the most-produced full-length play, followed by A Midsummer Night’s Dream, a primary contender for three decades now. While Our Town remains a perennial favorite since the dawn of this survey, this year’s notable 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 clinched top spots, including second (10 Ways to Survive the Zombie Apocalypse), third (The Brothers Grimm Spectaculathon), and fifth (The Audition).

The Spring Woods (Houston, Texas) High School production of The Addams Family.
The Spring Woods (Houston, Texas) High School production of The Addams Family. Photo by Susan Doremus.


1. The Addams Family (Andrew Lippa, Marshall Brickman, Rick Elice), TRW
2. Mamma Mia! (Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson, Catherine Johnson), MTI
3. The Little Mermaid (Alan Menken, Howard Ashman, Glenn Slater, Doug Wright), MTI
4. Beauty and the Beast (Alan Menken, Howard Ashman, Tim Rice, Linda Woolverton), MTI
5. Mary Poppins (Richard M. Sherman, Robert B. Sherman, Julian Fellowes), MTI
6. Newsies (Alan Menken, Jack Feldman, Harvey Fierstein), MTI
7. Little Shop of Horrors (Howard Ashman, Alan Menken), MTI
8. Seussical (Lynn Ahrens, Stephen Flaherty, Eric Idle), MTI
9. Into the Woods (Stephen Sondheim, James Lapine), MTI
10 (tie). Shrek (Jeanine Tesori, David Lindsay-Abaire), MTI
10 (tie). The Wizard of Oz (various)

The St. Charles (Mo.) High School production of She Kills Monsters. Photo by K. Thaemert Photography.


1. Almost, Maine (John Cariani), Dramatists Play Service
2. A Midsummer Night’s Dream (William Shakespeare), public domain
3. Peter and the Starcatcher (Wayne Barker, Rick Elice), MTI
4. Our Town (Thornton Wilder), Samuel French
5. Alice in Wonderland (various)
6. Clue (Jonathan Lynn, Hunter Foster, Eric Price, Sandy Rustin), Playscripts
7. She Kills Monsters (Qui Nguyen), Samuel French
8. 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


1. Check Please (Jonathan Rand), Playscripts
2. 10 Ways to Survive the Zombie Apocalypse (Don Zolidis), Playscripts
3. The Brothers Grimm Spectaculathon (Don Zolidis), Playscripts
4. This Is a Test (Stephen Gregg), Dramatic Publishing
5. The Audition (Don Zolidis), Playscripts
6 (tie). Bad Auditions by Bad Actors (Ian McWethy), Playscripts
6 (tie). Lockdown (Douglas Craven), Playscripts
8. Law & Order: Fairy Tale Unit (Jonathan Rand), Playscripts
9. 30 Reasons Not to Be in a Play (Alan Haehnel), Playscripts
10. Tracks (Peter Tarsi), Dramatic Publishing

View the 2018 annual play survey results.

This story appeared in the August 2019 print issue of Dramatics. Learn about the print magazine and other Thespian benefits on the International Thespian Society website.

2019 Annual Play Survey Titles
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