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According to the annual high school play survey conducted by the EdTA, The Addams Family; Almost, Maine; and Check Please received top billing for the most produced musical, full-length play, and short play, respectively, during the 2018-19 school year.
Conducted every year since 1938, EdTA’s annual survey of the plays and musicals most frequently produced in America’s high schools provides a showcase and a snapshot of what resonates with teens, their teachers, families, and communities.
Gregory Bossler, EdTA’s director of publications said, “Over time, this survey reveals both enduring patterns and new developments. Patterns for frequently produced shows include those with large casts and youthful perspectives, and a newer development is having more shows with familiar, fantasy storylines. The availability of licensing is a major factor in what gets produced as well.”
After being ranked second last year, The Addams Family reclaimed its number one slot for most-produced musical, followed by Mamma Mia!, making its first appearance in the survey as the rights to it became available this year. Newsies, the rights for which became available in spring 2018 made its top 10 debut at number six.
Almost, Maine boasts its fifth straight year as the most-produced full-length play, followed by A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which has placed in the top 10 for 30 years. While Our Town remains a perennial favorite since the dawn of this survey, this year’s notable top 10 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 earned top spots, including second (10 Ways to Survive the Zombie Apocalypse), third (The Brothers Grimm Spectaculathon), and fifth (The Audition).
Communities partake of high school theatre on a regular basis. Last year, EdTA expanded its exclusive play survey, now in its 81st consecutive year, to include not only data on which plays were produced in America’s high schools but also on how many people came to see them. This year, more than 3,000 schools responded to the survey and reported presenting an average of 10 performances each last year, with a total average audience of 1,800. Extrapolating these averages to all schools with a theatre program yields a potential audience of 48.1 million for high school theatre across America.
While this is the 81st year of the Play Survey, 2019 marks the 90th anniversary of the International Thespian Society (ITS), the honor organization for middle and high school drama students, which has recognized 2.4 million students since its founding in 1929.