So many popular musicals have been reproduced in high school auditoriums around the country, and the world – the list was far too long to fit into only one article! This is why we have decided to split it up into two blog posts. To give each of these wonderful musicals a proverbial “stage” to shine from.
With this in mind, it is here where we continue to inform you of the most popular musical recreated for the high school stage in the year 2014-2015
1. Guys and Dolls
This musical, a very popular one all over the world, has music and lyrics written by Frank Loesser and a book written by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows. It opened on Broadway in 1950 and had a twelve hundred performance run. That year it won the Best Musical category at the Tony Awards and has gone on to be reproduced many times in the United States and the United Kingdom. It was also made into a film starring Frank Sinatra and Marlon Brando.
The basis of the plot was derived from short stories by writer Damon Runyon, two of which were titled “The Idyll of Miss Sarah Brown” and “Blood Pressure.” The story follows a ne’er do well named Nathan Detroit and his plight to hold one of his infamous traveling craps games in the city of New York. Detroit is not only short the funds needed for such a venture, he is continually being hounded by his longtime girlfriend Adelaide to get married.
Enter Sky Masterson, another gangster who has a reputation to never turn down a wager. Nathan bets Sky that he cannot take a woman of Nathan’s choosing to dinner in Cuba that night. Sky accepts the bet and Nathan chooses Sarah Brown, the leader of the mission who is attempting to save all their souls. Of course, Sky wins the bet and he and Sarah fall in love. Yet that love is compromised when Sarah learns that Nathan did hold his craps game in her mission, when she was on the trip with Sky.
The musical numbers and witty dialogue and fun plot is what makes this piece a great reproduction for high schools everywhere.
2. You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown
The next musical on our high school list is a comedy that was written by Clark Gesner (music and lyrics), and based on the popular Peanuts characters we have all come to know and love created by Charles M. Schulz. It is said that this musical is a popular one to recreate due to the minute cast and the easy staging required.
It is also said that Gesner began to create songs in the 1960’s that revolved around the beloved Peanuts characters but the United Features Syndicate would not give him permission to use the individuals from the cartoon. To get around them Gesner sent Schultz a recording of a few songs and the creator of the cartoon gave him the permission he needed.
In 1967 the full musical had its Off-Broadway premiere in the East Village at Theatre 80. It would be performed by the original cast nearly sixteen hundred times until it closed on February 14, 1971. In June of that same year a production opened on Broadway at the John Golden Theatre but would only run for less than forty performances, closing only a few weeks later.
3. The Wizard of Oz
It is no surprise that this story would be a favorite for high schools to reproduce. The stage musical version of this story is based on the loved film and the book written by L. Frank Baum. The book for the musical was created by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Jeremy Sams. Music from the original movie are used but, in addition to those, there are fresh songs created by Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice.
The musical version of this classic tale opened in 2011 at the London Palladium in the West End and closed in September of 2012 after giving well over five hundred performances. In December of that same year a new production of The Wizard of Oz premiered at the Ed Mirvish Theatre in Toronto but the formal opening was not given until January of 2013. This production would close in August of the same year boasting audiences that have reached near a half a million people.
The unique thing about this musical is that the lead character of Dorothy was performed, in the original production, was cast by viewers of the reality show Over the Rainbow, which only aired on British television. The reality show was reproduced for Canadian television to cast the role of Dorothy in the Toronto production as well.
Our next musical that has become a favorite for high school reproduction is based on the legendary John Water’s film of the same name. Using the original movie as inspiration Marc Shaiman, Scott Wittman, and Mark O’Donnell set out to create a stage version, with original songs, that would do the plot justice. The results were phenomenal.
After a preview in Seattle in 2002 at the 5th Avenue Theatre this musical quickly made its way to Broadway that same year opening on August 15th at the Neil Simon Theatre. It would win eight Tony Awards that year, one for Best Musical, Best Book, Best Score and Best Direction.
This version of the campy Waters movie would go on to tour the United States, be reproduced in Toronto, Las Vegas, Buenos Aires, London, Melbourne and Germany. IT was made into another film in 2007 starring John Travolta, Michelle Pfeiffer, Queen Latifah and Zac Efron.
With a plot line that surrounds the Civil Rights Movement, integration in the 1960’s and body shaming all tied in with catchy songs and fun characters, this musical is perfect for any high school repertoire.
5. Beauty and the Beast
Another classic tale makes its way to high schools everywhere via the stage musical. This time it is the legendary story of a gal who is kidnapped by a horrendous looking creature whom she eventually falls in love with. While some might believe this could be a case of Stockholm Syndrome, we find that her love breaks the evil spell held over the Beast and he turns back into a handsome prince. Morally, this story has taught children everywhere that beauty is indeed only skin deep.
The book for this musical was written by Linda Woolverton. Disney Theatrical Productions were behind the venture while the music was written by Alan Menken and lyrics by Howard Ashman. Tim Rice also wrote additional lyrics for the production.
The basis of the stage version was the 1991 Disney animated film, which used the fairy tale by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont. Musically, this story would grace the stages of theaters in London, Stuttgart, Buenos Aires, Beijing, Madrid, Seoul, Budapest, Manila, Israel, Helsinki, Mexico City and Johannesburg.
6. The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
This musical is not as well-known as the others on our list. The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee is performed in one act and has music and lyrics written by William Finn. The book was written by Rachel Sheinkin. Yet the idea for the work came from Rebecca Feldman and her play C-R-E-P-U-S-C-U-L-E, which is improvisational and was performed by The Farm, a New York comedy troupe.
After being developed in Massachusetts at the Barrington Stage Company the production made its way to the Second Stage Theatre, an Off-Broadway location, and opened there in February of 2005. It didn’t take long for it to take off and that same year, in April, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, made its way to Broadway.
The production ran for nearly three years and over one thousand performances before closing. Since then it has been reproduced in Australia, Mexico City and has taken an extensive tour of the United States. The original Broadway production won the Tony Award and Drama Desk Award for Best Book.
It seems that musicals made from movies are the way to go and Footloose is not different when it comes to success taking this route. The movie was released in 1984 but the musical version was not created until 1998. That year is opened at the Richard Rodgers Theatre on Broadway in and performed for nearly two years with over seven hundred performances.
The critical response for the performances by the cast was favorable as well as the criticism of the music. Yet all in all some of the reviews were less than favorable. Still, it was nominated for four Tony Awards that year but didn’t win any of them. The awards it was nominated for were Best Book of a Musical, Best Original Score, Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical and Best Choreography.
The subject matter surrounds a high school student, Ren, who is forced to move from Chicago with his mother to a small town named Bomont after his father abandons their family. His uncle and aunt live there and have opened their home when he and his mother face financial difficulty. Ren loves music and loves to dance.
Yet he finds that in this small town such things have been outlawed due to the teachings of the local preacher, who also has a teenage daughter that rebels against him. She and Ren and their group of friends set forth to make the adults of Bomont understand just how important music and dancing is, not only for them, but for people of every age.