What we can learn from the Most Produced High School Musicals.

Last week, the Educational Theatre Association published their list of the most produced plays and musicals of the ’16-17 school year.

Why should we care?

Because there are 37,000 public and private high schools in this country, which means a lot of high school musicals, which means a huge potential revenue source for writers and investors alike. Yep, high school theaters pay royalties to perform shows and that money gets split between the investors of the original production (for a limited # of years) and the writers.

And by looking at this list, we can determine the similarities between the most produced plays and musicals . . . which, if getting mass-produced in the future is a goal, we can make choices accordingly.  It’s a bit of reverse engineering.

Let’s look at the Top 10 Produced Musicals:

1. The Addams Family
2. Beauty and the Beast
3. Shrek 
4. Seussical 
5. Cinderella
6. The Little Mermaid
7. The Wizard of Oz 
8. Into the Woods
9. Little Shop of Horrors 
10. Grease 

So what do you see?

I see:

  • Fantasies:  Except for Grease, they are all in magical worlds of some sort.
  • Adaptations:  Except for Grease, all are based on pre-existing source material.
  • Large Casts:  All of them can involve the entire Senior Class of the school if they so choose.

What else do you see?  What does this mean for some of the shows currently running on Broadway?  (I predict some serious licensing activity for Anastasia, don’t you?)  What does this mean for your show?

And should you use this info to help you decide what show you should start working on next?

You know what else I see?  Half of them didn’t recoup in their original run on Broadway . . . which means commercial success doesn’t mean anything to high school kids.

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Ken created one of the first Broadway podcasts, recording over 250 episodes over 7 years. It features interviews with A-listers in the theater about how they “made it”, including 2 Pulitzer Prize Winners, 7 Academy Award Winners and 76 Tony Award winners. Notable guests include Pasek & Paul, Kenny Leon, Lynn Ahrens and more.