13 Best Famous Musicals for High School Theatre in 2023?

If you are a high school theatre enthusiast, you know that musicals are the heart and soul of the stage. Musical productions offer an excellent opportunity for students to hone their acting, singing, and dancing skills while also providing a fun and memorable experience for the audience.

In 2023, there are a plethora of musicals for high school productions, each with its unique style, story, and music.

In this article, we have curated a list of the 13 best famous musicals for high school theatre that will make your production a smash hit.

So, whether you are a drama teacher or a student, read on to discover the best musicals for high school.

What are Musicals for High School Theatre?

Musicals for high school theatre are theatrical performances that feature singing, dancing, and acting, all of which are integrated into a storyline. Typically, these musicals are performed by high school students with a passion for the arts, such as singing, dancing, and acting.

Musicals for high school theatre are often adaptations of popular plays, books, movies, or even original works. They offer an opportunity for students to showcase their talents, hone their skills, and develop confidence, teamwork, and leadership abilities.

High school musicals are also an excellent way to unite the school community and foster camaraderie and school spirit. They provide a platform for students to express themselves creatively and gain valuable experiences to help them in their future careers.

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Picking the Best Musicals For High School

When picking the best musicals for high school, there are several factors to consider. Firstly, you want to choose a musical that will showcase the talents of your students and provide opportunities for them to shine on stage. Secondly, you want to choose a musical appropriate for your school’s audience and reflects your school’s values and beliefs. Here are some tips for picking the best musicals for high school:

Consider the Size of Your Cast.

One of the most important things to consider when choosing a musical is the size of your cast. If you have a large group of students, you may want to choose a musical with a large cast, such as Les Misérables or Into the Woods. If you have a smaller group of students, you may want to choose a musical with a smaller cast, such as Little Shop of Horrors or Once Upon a Mattress.

Think about your School’s Values.

Another important consideration when choosing a musical is whether it reflects your school’s values and beliefs. For example, if your school is known for its diversity and inclusivity, choose a musical that celebrates these values, such as In the Heights or The Color Purple. Choose a classic musical, such as Oklahoma! or The Sound of Music, if your school is more traditional.

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Consider the Age of your Students.

It’s also important to consider the age of your students when choosing a musical. Some musicals, such as Rent or Cabaret, may not be appropriate for younger students due to their mature themes and content. On the other hand, musicals like Annie or The Wizard of Oz are suitable for all ages and can be enjoyed by students and parents alike.

Look for a Musical with a Strong Storyline.

A musical with a strong storyline is essential for keeping your audience engaged and entertained. Musicals like Hamilton or Les Misérables have complex and compelling storylines that captivate your audience and leave a lasting impression.

Consider the Technical Requirements.

Finally, it’s important to consider the technical requirements of the musical. Some musicals require elaborate sets and costumes, while others can be performed with minimal technical requirements. Make sure you choose a musical within your school’s budget and technical capabilities.

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Overview of the Best Famous Musicals for High School Theatre in 2023

Below is an overview of the best famous musicals for high school theatre in 2023.

  • Hamilton
  • West Side Story
  • The Sound of Music
  • Les Miserables
  • Beauty and the Beast
  • Mamma Mia!
  • Grease
  • The Phantom of the Opera
  • The Lion King
  • Rent
  • In the Heights
  • The Addams Family
  • Little Shop of Horrors

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List of the Best Famous Musicals for High School Theatre in 2023

#1. Hamilton

Hamilton is a popular Broadway musical that has gained a significant following since its premiere in 2015. The musical tells the story of Alexander Hamilton, one of America’s founding fathers and the first Secretary of the Treasury.

The musical also delves into themes of immigration, race, and class, highlighting the struggles and triumphs of the early American republic. Through its energetic music and dynamic staging, Hamilton presents a unique and fresh perspective on American history, making it a favorite among audiences of all ages.

#2. West Side Story

West Side Story is a musical that has been popular with high school productions for decades. The story is a modern retelling of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, set in 1950s New York City. The musical explores the rivalry between two street gangs: the Jets, a white gang, and the Sharks, a Puerto Rican gang. The Jets’ leader, Tony, falls in love with Maria, the sister of the Sharks’ leader, Bernardo. The two lovers try to overcome their differences and be together, but the gang rivalry and societal prejudice ultimately lead to a tragic ending.

West Side Story deals with themes relevant to high school students, such as love, prejudice, and the challenges of growing up in a divided society. The musical’s message of hope and the power of love to overcome hate and intolerance has resonated with audiences for generations.

#3. The Sound of Music

“The Sound of Music” is a beloved musical that has captivated audiences for decades. The story is set in Austria just before the outbreak of World War II and is based on the true story of the von Trapp family. This musical follows the life of Maria, a young woman studying to become a nun but sent to be a governess to the seven children of the widowed Captain von Trapp.

This is a heartwarming story that celebrates the power of love and family. The music and lyrics, written by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, are some of the most memorable in musical theatre history.

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#4. Les Miserables

Les Miserables is a classic musical based on the novel by Victor Hugo. The story takes place in 19th-century France and follows the life of Jean Valjean, a former convict seeking redemption. The musical is known for its powerful music and themes of justice, love, and forgiveness.

The story also follows the lives of a group of young revolutionaries fighting for justice amid political turmoil in France. One of these revolutionaries, Marius, falls in love with Cosette, and their love story plays out against the backdrop of the revolution.

Les Miserables is a story of redemption, sacrifice, and the power of love to overcome even the greatest adversity. The music, including iconic songs such as “I Dreamed a Dream” and “One Day More,” is emotional and stirring, making it a favorite among musical theater enthusiasts.

Top of Form

#5. Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast is a classic fairytale about a young woman named Belle who falls in love with a prince cursed to live as a beast.

The story centers on the theme of true beauty being found within, as Belle learns to see past the Beast’s appearance and see the kindness and love he has within him.

Along the way, they face challenges and obstacles, but with love and determination, they find their way to happiness.

#6. Mamma Mia!

“Mamma Mia!” is a jukebox musical based on the music of the Swedish pop group ABBA. The story is set on a Greek island and follows a young bride-to-be, Sophie, who invites three men from her mother’s past to her wedding in the hopes of discovering which one is her biological father.

Ultimately, the truth about Sophie’s father is revealed, and the characters realize the importance of family and forgiveness.

Mamma Mia! is a lighthearted and fun musical perfect for high school productions. The catchy music, vibrant costumes, and energetic dance numbers will keep audiences entertained.

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#7. Grease

Grease is a classic American musical that takes place in the 1950s. The story follows the lives of a group of high school students, primarily focusing on the romantic relationship between Danny Zuko and Sandy Olsson. The musical explores themes such as teenage love, rebellion, and social hierarchies in high school.

The musical features popular songs such as “Summer Nights,” “Greased Lightning,” and “You’re the One That I Want,” which are performed by the characters throughout the story. The music and dance numbers contribute to the musical’s overall fun and energetic atmosphere, making it a beloved classic among high school productions.

#8. The Phantom of the Opera

This is a musical that tells the story of a mysterious figure who haunts the Paris Opera House. The Phantom falls in love with a young soprano named Christine and becomes her mentor, using his musical genius to help her become a star.

However, his obsession with Christine becomes dangerous as he becomes increasingly possessive and jealous, leading to tragic consequences.

The show features iconic songs such as “The Music of the Night” and “All I Ask of You,” and has been a popular musical choice for high school productions due to its dramatic plot and memorable music.

#9. The Lion King

“The Lion King” is a musical based on the 1994 animated film of the same name by Disney. It tells the story of a young lion prince named Simba, destined to become king of the Pride Lands, a fictional African savanna.

However, Simba’s uncle Scar plots to take the throne for himself, convincing Simba that he is responsible for his father’s death. As a result, Simba runs away and lives a carefree life with new friends, Timon and Pumbaa. But when he learns about Scar’s tyrannical reign, he must face his past and reclaim his rightful place as king.

The musical features music by Elton John and lyrics by Tim Rice, as well as additional music by Hans Zimmer and Lebo M.

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#10. Rent

“Rent” is a rock musical that tells the story of a group of impoverished young artists and musicians struggling to survive and create art in New York City’s East Village. The show explores themes of love, friendship, creativity, and the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s.

With its powerful music and lyrics, “Rent” has become a beloved classic of the musical theatre canon, inspiring generations with its message of hope and resilience in the face of adversity.

#11. In the Heights

“In the Heights” is a musical that tells the story of a diverse Washington Heights, New York City community. The plot revolves around the lives of the residents, primarily focusing on a bodega owner named Usnavi and his struggles to achieve his dreams.

The musical explores themes of identity, community, and the pursuit of the American Dream, as the characters navigate their daily lives and face various challenges.

With vibrant music and energetic dance numbers, “In the Heights” celebrates the culture, traditions, and struggles of the Latinx community in the United States.

#12. The Addams Family

“The Addams Family” is a musical based on the characters created by cartoonist Charles Addams. It tells the story of the bizarre and eccentric Addams family, unlike any other family in their community. As they prepare for a visit from their stranger relatives, the Beinekes and the Addamses must confront their prejudices and secrets.

The show features catchy songs, dance numbers, and plenty of humor and macabre themes that fans of the original comic strip and films will love.

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#13. Little Shop of Horrors

“Little Shop of Horrors” is a musical comedy about a hapless florist named Seymour, who discovers a strange plant that feeds on human blood. As the plant grows and becomes increasingly demanding, Seymour finds himself in a dangerous and chaotic situation. The musical is known for its catchy tunes, dark humor, and campy horror elements, making it one of the most famous musicals for high school productions. The show explores themes of ambition, greed, and the dangers of playing God.

Why are these Musicals the Best for High School Productions?

There are several reasons why the musicals mentioned above are considered some of the best for high school productions:

#1. Relevance

Many of these musicals feature themes that are relevant to high school students. Whether dealing with social anxiety in Dear Evan Hansen, standing up for oneself in Matilda, or fighting for what is right in Newsies, these musicals offer relatable and meaningful messages for high school students.

#2. Diversity

In today’s society, diversity and representation are more important than ever. Musicals like In the Heights showcase diverse characters and cultures, allowing high school students to explore different perspectives and learn about different communities.

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#3. Difficulty level

High school theatre programs must choose musicals that are challenging enough to showcase their students’ talents but are easy enough to produce. The above musicals strike a good balance with challenging music and choreography that high school students can rise to the occasion and execute well.

#4. Popularity

Many of these musicals have gained popularity recently due to successful Broadway productions, movie adaptations, or social media exposure. This popularity can generate buzz and excitement around high school production, leading to more ticket sales and community engagement.

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What makes a musical a good fit for high school theater?

An age-appropriate musical with relatable characters and a simple plot is a good fit for high school theater.

How long do high school musical productions typically run?

High school musical productions, including intermission, typically run for two to three hours.

Can high school productions of these musicals be modified to fit the school’s budget or space limitations?

Many of the musicals on the list can be modified to fit a school’s budget or space limitations.

Are there any musicals on the list that are more challenging to produce than others?

Yes, some of the musicals on the list, such as Les Miserables and The Phantom of the Opera, are more challenging to produce due to their complex set designs and vocal demands.

Can high school students perform multiple musical productions in one school year?

It depends on the school’s schedule and resources, but high school students can perform in multiple musical productions in one school year.


High school musicals are an excellent way for students to showcase their talents and creativity.

The 13 best famous musicals for high school theatre in 2023 offer diverse themes, styles, and music that will captivate the audience and leave a lasting impression.

From the hip-hop musical Hamilton to the classic romance of West Side Story, these musicals will make your high school production a hit.

So, whether you’re a teacher or a student, start preparing for your next musical production and let your talent shine on stage.



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