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Survey reveals 2023 most-produced high school plays and musicals

The Educational Theatre Association’s poll also revealed how educators are affected by censorship concerns.

Production photo from a school staging of “The Addams Family” (Credit: Courtesy of the Educational Theatre Association)

The 2023 Educational Theatre Association (EdTA) survey has revealed the most-produced full-length plays and musicals from the 2022-2023 school year.

“The Addams Family” topped the list of full-length musicals. Rounding out the top ten were 2) “Mamma Mia!,” 3) “Into the Woods,” 4) “Little Shop of Horrors,” 5)“Beauty and the Beast,” 5) “The Little Mermaid,” 7) “SpongeBob SquarePants,” 8) the teen edition of “Chicago,” 9) “Legally Blonde” and 10) the high school version of “Mean Girls.” This year marked the first top-ten appearances for “Chicago” and “Mean Girls.”

Leading the list of full-length plays was “Clue.” Also in the top ten were 2) “Puffs,” 3) “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” 4) “The Play That Goes Wrong,” 4) “Radium Girls,” 6) “Almost, Maine,” 7) “Peter and the Starcatcher,” 7) “She Kills Monsters: Young Adventurers Edition,” 9) “Alice in Wonderland” and 10) “12 Angry Jurors.” Notably absent from this year’s list was “Our Town,” which fell just outside of the top ten. The play has typically made the full-length-play list since the survey began in 1938.

In addition, the survey revealed that censorship is top of mind for many educators across the country. Of the respondents, 85 reported being somewhat concerned about censorship, while 67 percent revealed that those concerns are influencing their choices for the upcoming school year.

When asked about the selections made for the current school year, 30 percent of respondents said they were aware of student, parent or administrative concerns. However, only six percent were asked to change their show — and four percent did switch their production. Cancellations affected just one percent of educators.

“We know educators are worried about the current wave of legislation mandating what they can and can’t teach,” EdTA executive director Dr. Jennifer Katona said in a statement. “What’s concerning about these results is the potential impact of self-censorship. School theater should be a way for students to explore diverse perspectives, which helps them develop empathy and critical thinking.”