CINCINNATI: The Educational Theatre Association (EdTA) has released the 84th annual play survey results. The results represent a snapshot of school theatre industry trends, with responses from both EdTA-affiliated schools and non-affiliated schools.
The most-produced full-length musicals of 2021-22 were:
1. Mamma Mia!
2. All Together Now!, MTI’s newly developed musical revue
3. The Addams Family
4. SpongeBob Musical
5. Disney’s Beauty and the Beast
6. You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown
7. Little Shop of Horrors
8. Into the Woods
9. Disney’s The Little Mermaid and Newsies (tied for ninth place)
In the new category of most-produced short musicals, the top were:
1. Disney’s Frozen JR.
2. Roald Dahl’s Matilda: The Musical JR.
3. Disney’s The Lion King JR.
4. Disney’s Beauty and the Beast JR.
5. Annie JR., Disney’s High School Musical JR., and Disney’s Moana JR. (tied for fifth)
8. Into the Woods JR.
9. Disney’s The Little Mermaid JR.
10. Seussical JR.
The most-produced plays this school year were:
The most-produced short plays of 2021-22 were:
1. Check Please
2. 10 Ways to Survive the Zombie Apocalypse
3. The Brothers Grimm Spectaculathon (One-Act)
4. 13 Ways to Screw Up Your College Interview and Law & Order: Fairy Tale Unit (tied for fourth)
6. Bad Auditions by Bad Actors
7. Cut, Our Place, Oz, and This Is a Test (tied for seventh place)
The survey indicates that high school theatre participation is on the rise, with 15,000 new thespians inducted into the International Thespian Society in May. There was a trend of schools moving back toward live, in-person productions this year, after two years heavily affected by the pandemic and COVID-19 safety protocols. While still influential, the impact of COVID protocols on school productions was less severe.
77 percent of respondents reported they planned a normal theatre season, with the same number of productions offered that they would have presented in a pre-pandemic school year. 91 percent of those planned productions completed their runs, with less than 10 percent cancelled due to COVID-19, and 4.6 percent reporting that they even expanded their plans for the theatre season. Just over 93 percent of respondents indicated that they presented all scheduled performances, and only about 12 percent had to postpone a performance due to pandemic-related causes.
“The encouraging takeaway from this year’s play survey is that theatre is making a comeback in schools around the country,” said EdTA’s content and marketing director, Matt Curtis, in a statement. “While many schools indicated that box office returns have taken a powerful and lingering hit due to limitations like socially distanced seating or a community’s hesitation to return to a live audience, teachers have shown that they were able to plan and execute theatre successfully with students, largely in person, during the 2021-22 school year.”
The Educational Theatre Association, home to the Educational Theatre Foundation and International Thespian Society, is an international nonprofit whose mission is to shape lives through theatre education. EdTA’s annual survey of the plays and musicals most frequently produced in America’s schools has been conducted every year since 1938. The foundation provides essential financial support to enhance theatre education, expand access, and foster racial equity. The International Thespian Society is an honor society active in nearly 5,000 schools and has inducted 2.4 million students since 1929.
Support American Theatre: a just and thriving theatre ecology begins with information for all. Please join us in this mission by making a donation to our publisher, Theatre Communications Group. When you support American Theatre magazine and TCG, you support a long legacy of quality nonprofit arts journalism. Click here to make your fully tax-deductible donation today!